Friday, October 07, 2005

The Latest in Song-Poems!

Here are a few comments about two tracks I've uploaded to the gmail site. I've been collecting song-poem records for nearly ten years now, and although my collecting had slowed to a crawl a couple of years ago, it is now going at full speed again, due to CDR trading and online buying.

(for those of you just joining the song-poem world, or not there yet, please see for an explanation.)

The songs I've uploaded are two of my favorites among my recent purchases. The first is "Be Optimistic" by Sammy Marshall and the Rays, on the "Roxie" label. Following a short burst of the chorus, this song opens up with a line which has to be among the least likely lyrics one would ever imagine opening a song called "Be Optimistic". But I'll leave that surprise for you.

In general, the song doesn't sustain that insanity level, but the main point of the song - which seems to be along the lines of "don't gamble, and don't believe in luck, but still, 'be optimistic' " - is muddled enough to make for a bizarre listening experience, especially since the singer barely describes anything good happening to you - prior to your arrival in heaven, that is.

Of course, that is to say that the Lord is involved, a message I could agree with, if the theology wasn't so completely black and white: is he actually saying that the bad news of the first verse happened because he "rolled them dice"? And is blind faith in God the very definition of Optimism? Apparently so. Well, um....

But above all, that opening verse, with it's combination of peppy presentation and sad lyrics, just floors me. All of the above is strongly enhanced, all that much more, by one of my four favorite song-poem singers, Sammy Marshall. (The glitches near the end of this MP3, by the way, are present on the record itself.)

The other disk is my very first 78 rpm song-poem purchase. At least I assume it's a song-poem - it's on a label said to be dedicated to such releases, "Stylecraft". On the other hand, maybe it isn't a song-poem - it sounds fairly professional, if odd in lyric and subject. The song is "The Grinder Man", performed by Frankie Day. I love the arrangement, and I'd also love to know exactly what the lyric "...knives and shivs..." means, as I'm not aware of the difference between the two. Perhaps a kind reader/50's gang member out there can clarify this point for me. I'm just glad to own a smoothly sung, demo performance of a tin pan alley-ish song which contains the word "shiv".



Michael said...

Hey! I have this record also! In fact, I just digitized my own copy, haha, I should have saved myself the time! Good ole Sammy!

Michael said...

Grinder Man, great!!