A story with a happy ending seems more unusual these days, but I have one for you. I’ll also provide the moral right here, rather than saving it for the end: Kindness is everything.
Yesterday I published a blogpost here — primarily to show off the new-old eBay purchase above, Sidney Bechet, soprano saxophone; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Don Donaldson, piano; Ernest Myers (also known as “Ernest Wilson Myers,” and his nickname was “Serious”) string bass; Wilbert Kirk, drums — a delightfully intent version of ST. LOUIS BLUES.
Recording sessions usually produced four sides, and two others were accepted for issue on V-Disc: AFTER YOU’VE GONE, and BUGLE CALL RAG – OLE MISS. But one, tantalizingly called MEDLEY OF PARODIES, remained unissued, music I’d heard of perhaps twenty-five years ago but never heard. It was described as Myers singing parodies of three popular songs: DEAR MOM, TANGERINE, and NAGASAKI. David J. Weiner had told me that TANGERINE was now called GASOLINE, a hymn to that substance so scarce in wartime, but that was all I knew. It had come to light and was one track on a giant Bechet CD box set, but that set was not easily purchased.
So yesterday I asked, here and on an online jazz research group, whether anyone had a digital copy of the music to share with me, not expecting much. I was proven wrong in the nicest ways by Fernando, Mario, David, Tom, James, and Jeremy, who offered digital copies in various formats. Two people pointed me to archive.org (make sure you have a comfortable chair before visiting that site, because you’ll want to stay a while: the link offers the entire 14-CD Bechet set) — not the highest-quality sound, but the one easiest to share with you, so I offer the MEDLEY OF PARODIES here.
I find it goofily charming — from Bechet as the very smooth master of ceremonies to Myers’ heartfelt vocals, Vic’s little interjections and Kirk’s Catlett-accents . . . “a little entertainment,” as Sidney says. (I was dreading that NAGASAKI would be anti-Asian, but thank goodness, they stick to the original lyrics with a few variations.) Did it remain unreleased because of the naughty words or the topical references to Hitler and MacArthur? Would it have been stopped by the censors? And the parodies, candidly, are fairly sophomoric although effective.
Dreams don’t always come true when we’re out of Thirties popular songs or Disney films, but this one did, and I’ve been enjoying it immensely.
I thought it possible that some readers might not know the original DEAR MOM and TANGERINE, so here are contemporaneous versions:
And to quote Sonny Greer, “Cast your bread upon the waters and it comes back buttered toast.”
Much gratitude to all the generous people who leaped to fill a lack, and to my readers worldwide, as ever. Knowing you’re out there is a great joy.
May your happiness increase!