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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-Chat(Moderators: bhcordova, RedHotMama, BFW) Songs about the Cities where I have lived
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Graham Martin
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Location: Redland Bay, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
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« on: Jul 23, 2017, 07:56PM »

This post is a bit of an indulgence, hence the location in Chit Chat. It concerns the music written about the major cities where I have lived over my lifetime, all of which have deep nostalgic memories for me. I am glad I was lucky enough to have experienced them.

LONDON, England (1938 – 1960)
London is my home city. I lived in Kenton (Harrow), which is part of the Greater London Area now, but in my days living there it was in the county of Middlesex. Harrow is the location of one of the best known public schools in England. A strange coincidence is that that I learned only last week that my next-door neighbour's father was a schoolmaster at Harrow School.

Also cementing my links to London was the fact I went to college in Kilburn, which was part of the City of London, Greater London. And my first job was right in the business centre of London, known as “The City”. After that, I spent quite a few years working in the precinct of the major London rail terminus, Euston. I do still have traces of a London accent (Cockney) but it is now heavily overlaid with Aussie.

“Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner” by Flanagan & Allen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln3sidFtIAU

Flanagan & Allen were a British singing and comedy double act popular during World War II, and long afterwards. They would often feature a mixture of comedy and music in their act, and this led to a successful recording career as a duo. The recordings of Flanagan and Allen remain popular to this day and the duo are frequently impersonated by professionals and amateurs - including me, along with my most recent trumpet playing buddy, Derek Capewell.

“Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner” by Acker Bilk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vaoDEofM28

Although Acker insists that "London Is My Cup Of Tea" -  the name of the LP from which this version comes - he is in fact from Summerset, where the cider apples grow. Acker was just about my favorite jazz clarinetist and bandleader from the heady days of the British Trad Jazz Revival of the 1950/60s. This recording is from the times after the Trad Boom, when Acker recorded many very successful albums with strings. Even with that lush backing, it is his beaut jazz tone that gets me every time!

BIRMINGHAM, England
Towards the end of World War II, my mother evacuated us to Birmingham to get away from the V Bombs and Doodle Bugs that were falling all around us. I was very young, of course, but I do remember it well and I even went to Primary School there for a short time. I guess the thing I remember the best was the old Birmingham trams, which we did not have in London and I still consider to be a wonderful form of transport. I was delighted when I first arrived in Brisbane, Australia and found they still had trams. No longer unfortunately.

This recoding is by ELO an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1970. During their original 13-year period of active recording and touring, they sold over 50 million records worldwide

"Birmingham Blues" by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF83aaIV0Jo

ST ALBANS, Hertfordshire, England (1959 – 1966)
I am not altogether sure that I consider St Albans to be a city - not a big one anyway. But it is always referred to as St Albans City and it has its own cathedral, the full name being the Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban. St Albans was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north, and it became the Roman city of Verulamium. There are still existing ruins of the old Roman wall and Roman Theatre. 

London is only 25 miles away by road, but it seems like a lot more. In my time, St Albans people did not think of themselves as Londoners, albeit it is now pretty much a dormitory town, within the London commuter belt and the Greater London Built-up Area. Nowadays it even has a commuter rail line known as ThamesLink.

It was a lovely place to live in the 1960’s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Albans

The tune I have chosen will be much better known to you as “That’s Amore”, which was a big hit for Dean Martin. The original words of the tune are about Naples, which was one of my favourite holiday destinations as a young man. This was very unusual for Brits of modest means in those days, but I used to get free train tickets on the Continent due to working for British Railways. I chose the tune because of picturesque tour through St Albans with Ricky Lopez as guide. The video really shows the character of the place.

If you look at the top left-hand corner of this video at 0.18 you will see an old house/shop known as “The Gables”. The two windows in the gable end are a flat, where I lived for a short time. At the other end of the short line of shops is the Clock Tower (video at 0.53). I also lived in Holywell House (an old girl’s School and not the original Holywell House), Holywell Hill, right under the bells of St Albans Abbey (Cathedral) that is featured in the video (1.42 & 3.24).

“That's St Albans” - Ricky Lopez

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-G1uy_-B_U

BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia
I have lived in the Greater Brisbane Area three times: From 1966 to 1970, 1975 to 1977 and 2003 until the present time.

When I first arrived in Brisbane, as an immigrant sponsored by the State Government, it came across to me as a big country town and I loved it. The building that stood out was the Town Hall, which these days is dwarfed by multi-storey buildings. Being involved in the construction industry and having worked a lot on the buildings that now constitute Brisbane, I sometimes say to myself “What an earth did we do?”. But it is still a nice-looking city and the expansion is understandable due to the population growth - 718,800 when I arrived in 1966, and now standing at 2,380,000. In recent years the population growth has been 6% each year, which just demonstrates how attractive it is to live in this part of Australia.

Probably the first tune for me about Brisbane is the folksy “Brisbane Ladies”. This version is by the Wild Colonial Boys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I38TwYFKTyk

More recent is a Midnight Oil lament about change in general and, more specifically, the changing faces of our cities because of the greed of urban developers.

“Dreamworld” mentions the iconic Breaky Creek Hotel, (where I often had a lunch and a beer) being sold off. It also tells of the demolition of the popular Brisbane dancehall, Cloudland, a venue that Midnight Oil had frequently played at, in 1982, and which was demolished in the dead of the night despite protection orders. I blame the Bjelke-Petersen Government, who also decided to demolish Brisbane's iconic Bellevue Hotel, after a secret report warned the historic building would cost $2 million to restore and only $40,000 to knock down.

“Dreamworld” – Midnight Oil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcKcjpSWmm0

The next tune is also about Brisbane, says some nice true things about it, and has some good views of the city:

“The Brisbane Song” - Mathew Turner-Dauncey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDB8FOAHCJQ

This next tune is about the early days of the convicts in the Brisbane area, which is located on Moreton Bay. My most recent jazz band is called “The Morton Bay Jazzband”. Dropping the ‘e’ was the original spelling before the cartographers messed it up. And of course, Redland Bay where I now live, is the Southern end of Moreton Bay. Hence my earlier jazz band’s name, “The Southern Bay Stompers”.

“Moreton Bay” by John Denver

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz9Lp7vpjlc

SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia

The song “My City of Sydney” was written by American actor/vocalist/songwriter Tommy Leonetti, who spent some time living in Australia when he made the Sydney TV variety show "The Tommy Leonetti Show" from 1969 to 1970. The tune was used by the Australian TV channel ATN7 in Sydney for station identification into the 1980s.

As a backdrop to the song there is a clip of Tommy wandering around Sydney and along the beaches. This was filmed back in the very early 70’s, so you do notice a huge difference in the Sydney skyline - the hydrofoils, the old ferries, there is no Centrepoint Tower and even the Opera House is still in the final stages of construction – but this is the Sydney I perhaps remember best.

In the opening of the tune, there is a comparison of Sydney with sister city San Francisco. Although I did not live in San Francisco, it was my favourite American city and is very like Sydney in terms of its attractions.

“My City of Sydney” by Tommy Leonetti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71NOg0hxLnU

DETROIT – USA
When I lived in the US, I did not actually live in Detroit. I lived on a farm in the small town of Chelsea, Michigan; which is about 57 miles out of Detroit, along Interstate 94. I worked in Wayne which is closer (26 miles) but spent a lot of time in Detroit itself. I was certainly a fan of the Red Wings and Tigers – still am! I guess the relationship between Chelsea and Detroit is somewhat the same as between St. Albans and London, when I lived in the UK.  And funnily enough, Chelsea reminded me a lot of St Albans.

I must say that, although I liked Detroit very much, it was business and personal reasons that towards the end of my stay made me feel: “I just been wasting my time” and “I wanna go home”. So, I took a Southbound Qantas flight and returned to Brisbane, Australia.

In the video, although Bobby also wants out of Detroit, he does outline a typical life situation for the large numbers of people, mostly from rural Appalachia and Southern States, who originally went to Detroit during the war years to man the booming defence industries: “By day I make the cars, and by night I make the bars. If only they could read between the lines”. I should point out that when I was living in Detroit, it was in a boom period. I hate to see what has happened to it today with the decline of the motor industry.

“Detroit City” - Bobby Bare

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yKesnaFYUw
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Grah

"May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay......forever young."
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 23, 2017, 08:48PM »

And I just presumed it was about Birmingham, Alabama.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #2 on: Aug 19, 2017, 09:44AM »

I can only think of a few songs that relate to my home City of Rochester NY.  A Foreigner song "Rev on the Red Line" mentions a Street in Rochester NY (Lake Ave. a street notorious for late night drag racing), Lou Gramm a Rochesterian and lead singer for Foreigner from Rochester wrote the song.  The other would be the couple of Folk Songs regarding the Erie Canal which passed through Rochester. 
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Andrew Meronek

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« Reply #3 on: Aug 19, 2017, 12:59PM »

Six Mile Stretch from Sam Donahue can apply to Detroit.  :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za4Fd9m07EE

I'm racking my brain for a Woodward Avenue reference in a tune I've played many times and coming up blank. Hate when that happens. Think early swing/Basie kind of style.
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Graham Martin
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 19, 2017, 04:06PM »

Six Mile Stretch from Sam Donahue can apply to Detroit.  :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za4Fd9m07EE

I'm racking my brain for a Woodward Avenue reference in a tune I've played many times and coming up blank. Hate when that happens. Think early swing/Basie kind of style.

I am not familiar with a 'Six Mile Stretch' in Detroit, especially not from the 1940s, but am guessing from your post that it either refers to Six Mile Road or a 6-Mile section of Woodward Ave?

I am familiar with the fact that In 1909, the stretch of Woodward Avenue, between six mile and seven mile road, became the first mile of road in the world to be paved with concrete.

There is a tune called "Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue" - Karen Newman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pyRex3bW8s 
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Grah

"May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay......forever young."
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