Friday, November 27, 2009

Harry Belafonte - Streets I Haved Walked

This is an album where Harry Belafonte sang mostly traditional songs from several parts of the world. He even sang the traditional Japanese court song, Sakura, in Japanese language. Joining him in the recording of this album was the choir of Springfield Gardens Junior High School No. 59.

This album was released in 1963.

Side 1:
Sit Down – Early Negro Spiritual
Erev Shel Shoshanim - Israeli
Waltzing Matilda – Australian
My Old Paint – American West
Mangwene Mpulele – South African
This Land Is Your Land – American

Side 2:
Tunga – Portuguese
Sakura – Japanese court song
Amen – Negro Spiritual
The Borning Day – West Indian
This Wicked Race – Spiritual in Gospel Tradition
Come Away Melinda – A song for all children everywhere

Monday, November 23, 2009

Harry Belafonte - Belafonte At Carnegie Hall

In 1990, I was working in Singapore. At the time, I stayed with a few friends in a rented flat at Bukit Batok. During that time, one of my housemates, TC Loh, was an addict to watching video tapes movies. He rented a tape almost everyday. Normally after our dinner, we would watch the 8:30pm Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s variety show on TV. Immediately after the variety show, TC would start to watch a video tape movie. On most occasions, I sat on sofa in front of the TV but I hardly watched the video tape movies as I preferred to read newspapers or computer magazines.

One evening, TC was watching movie while I was reading newspapers. I was suddenly attracted by some unique music from the movie. The movie was “Beetle Juice”, a horror/comedy show that adopted 2 Harry Belafonte’s songs, “Banana Boat Song” and “Jump in the Line”. I still remember that TC and I were greatly amused by the 2 songs. TC was definitely impressed because he continued to sing “Banana Boat Song” in Belafonte’s style for many months. I subsequently bought a CD of Harry Belafonte and I have been keeping that CD until today.

Harry Belafonte (1927 - ) was born in New York. His father was a Jamaican. His released his first album in 1954. Wikipedia listed that his album, “Calypso”, was the first album to surpassed 1 million mark in 1956. (Bing Crosby’s “white Christmas” and Tenessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons,” both singles had previously surpassed the 1 million mark.

Personally, I find that the sound of the album is superb. Moreover, Belafonte was so at ease in front of the audience. He cracked jokes, recounted his childhood days in Jamaica, talked about how did the British song “The Marching Saints” ended as a funeral song in Jamaica. The audience was simply captivated by Belafonte as the entire hall was dead silent when Belafonte when he spoke. I am captivated too!

To sum up how great is this LP album,’s commented that “A digitally remastered but truncated single-disc CD reissue of the classic 1959 performance by Harry Belafonte was issued upon its 30th anniversary in 1989. Inexplicably, all of Belafonte's between-song patter and four songs were eliminated, no doubt in an attempt to fit the whole concert on one disc. The editing was done with a machete, and the concert loses all of its spontaneity and pacing. For those who are familiar with the original, magnificent double-LP set, the edits will make you cringe. For the record, the excised songs are "Take My Mother Home," "Man Piaba," "All My Trials," and "Merci Bon Dieu." Save your turntables and get the records. ~ Cary Ginell, All Music Guide”

Song List:

Side 1 – Introduction/Darlin’ Cora, Sylvie, Cotton Fields, John Henry, Take My Mother Home

Side 2 – The Marching Saints, The Banana Boat Song (Day-O), Jamaica Farewell, Man Piaba, All My Trials

Side 3 – Mama Look a Boo Boo, Come Back Liza, Man Smart (Woman Smarter), Hava Nagila, Danny Boy, Merci Bon Dieu

Side 4 – Cucurrucucu Paloma, Shenandoah, Matilda

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Song - The Way It Was In ‘51

Lyrics by Merle Haggard

Sixty-six was still a narrow two-lane highway
Harry Truman was the man who ran the show
The bad Korean war was just beginning
And I was just three years too young to go
Country Music hadn't gone to New York City yet
And a service man was proud of what he'd done
Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox
That's the way it was in fifty one.

There's so much about the good old days I'd love to tell
And there's folks around I know still remember well
Slow dancin' close together when a ballad played
'Cause a thing called Rock and Roll was yet to come
It was a big year for a drive-in rest'rant carhop
That's the way it was in fifty one.

There's so much about the good old days I'd love to tell
And there's folks around I know still remember well
Slow dancin' close together when a ballad played
'Cause a thing called Rock and Roll was yet to come
It was a big year for a drive-in rest'rant carhop
That's the way it was in fifty one.

Yeah! Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox
Oh Lord! That's the way it was in fifty one

* * *

This is the first song on side A of Merle Haggard's "The Way It Was In '51" album.

I am the type of person who likes to recount my good old days. And since Merle Haggard is a damn good song writer who wrote so many songs about his own good old days. I was instantly attracted to the musics and lyrics his songs on the very moment I listened to my first Merle Haggard's album. I bought that album, "Someday We'll Look Back", in December 2006.

Most of Merle Haggard songs are very rhythmic and catchy. I just could not help but to hum along. "The Way it was in '51" is a typical example of Merle Haggard's songs, so rhythmic, so catchy and more importantly, counting his good old days.

Here's the link to this song,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Merle Haggard - The Way It Was In '51

When I decided to post an album of Merle Haggard previously, I was so indecisive on whether to post “The Best of Merle Haggard” or “The Way It Was In ‘51”. After I posted the former, I then thought something would be missing if I did post the later. So here is Merle Haggard’s “The Way It Was In ‘51”.

I found that many country singers were influenced by 2 great country and western music legends, Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) and Hank Williams (1923-1953). Hank Williams wrote so many great songs that many singers included Hank Williams’ songs in their albums. On side 1 of this album, Haggard sang 5 songs of Hank Williams and a song written by him, “The Way It Was In ‘51”.

Merle Haggard’s also idolized Lefty Frizzell. As a rebelious teenager, Merle Haggard landed in and out of reform schools many times. At the age of 14, he attended a Lefty Frizzell’s concert when he was out of the reform school. That concert left a great influence on Merle Haggard. Subsequently, Haggard followed Frizzell’s singing style very closely. I found both of them sounded very similar. In fact, I come to know Lefty Frizzell after searching for Merle Haggard’s information on Internet. On side 2 of this album, Haggard sang 4 songs of Lefty Frizzell and a song written by him, “Goodbye Lefty”.
I love the 2 songs written by Merle Haggard “The Way It Was In ‘51” and “Goodbye Lefty”. The 2 songs reflect the typical style of Merle Haggard. The rest of the songs are well known songs of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. They were simply superb.

Besides singing very well, Merle Haggard is also a very talented song writer. He has won countless music awards as a singers and song writer, including Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, in 1984 and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. He was also inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1994.

This album was released in 1978.

Song List:

Hank’s Side : The Way It Was In '51, Moanin' The Blues, My Heart Would Know, Lovesick Blues, I Saw The Light

Lefty’s Side : Mom And Dad's Waltz, It Meant Goodbye To Me, I'm An Old Old Man Tryin' To Live While I Can, I Never Go Around Mirrors, Goodbye Lefty

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Merle Haggard - The Very Best of Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard was born in 1937. Merle and his parents lived in an old boxcar that they converted into a home.

After his father passed away in 1946, Haggard’s world turned upside down and he turned rebellious. He also started to commit petty crimes. At the age of 13, he was caught shoplifting and was sent to a reform school. For the next few years, Merle would find himself in reform schools, sometimes making an escape, only to get thrown back in again.

In 1957, Haggard was sent to San Quentin Prison for 3 years after he was found involved in a robbery case. According to Wikipedia, “Merle attended three of Johnny Cash's concerts at San Quentin. Seeing Cash perform inspired Haggard to straighten up and pursue his singing. Several years later, at another Cash concert, Haggard came up to Johnny and told him ‘I certainly enjoyed your show at San Quentin.’ Cash said ‘Merle, I don't remember you bein' in that show.’ Merle Haggard said, ‘Johnny, I wasn't in that show, I was in the audience.’"

Merle Haggard released his first single in 1963. His singing style was very similar to his idol Lefty Frizzell. In fact, I admire Merle Haggard very much because of his vast talent, no just only in singing, but also in writing many of the songs that he sang. In this album, he wrote/co-wrote 13 out of the16 songs!

There is no released date stated in this album. However, I believe it was released around 1972 because the songs in this album were released between 1969 and 1972.

Song List:

Side A: Okie From Muskogee#, Hungry Eyes*, Workin’ Man Blues*, Swinging Doors*, Someday We’ll Look Back*, Branded Man*, I’m a Lonesome Fugitive, The Bottle Let Me Down*

Side B: Silver Wings*, I Wonder What She’ll Think About Me Leaving*, Today I Started Loving You Again#, Mama Tried*, No Reason to Quit, Every6 Fool Has a Rainbow*, The Fightin’ Side of Me*, It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)

* Songs written by Merle Haggard
# Songs co-written by Merle Haggard