Monday, February 12, 2024

Another Piece of the Norris Puzzle

To start today's post, let me just reiterate that, any time I come to own a previously unknown / unshared record linked to the fabulous Norridge Mayhams (AKA Norris the Troubadour), it will get shared here, and very promptly. 

I will do this even though many of these records have a dubious - or even virtually no - connection to song-poems. The link remains that, at a certain point in the 1960's, Norris stopped performing his own songs (or, as in this case, hiring and no doubt paying existing outfits to record them), and started using the song-poem companies to record his songs. But even at that point, as he had always done, it seems likely that he wrote both the words and the music for his material, so even when he used the song-poem companies, his releases were a little different than the standard material found on those releases. 

However, I find his story - and his music - endless fascinating, and so will always share with you what I find. And here's something believed to be unique among the tens of thousands of people who utilized the song-poem companies at one point or another. Norridge Mayhams wrote an actual, honest-to-goodness popular hit record. The song was "We'll Build a Bungalow", and you can hear the hit version here. Note the absence of Mayhams' name on the label. He spent years trying to sue his way into both receiving writer's credit for and receiving the profits of his song. 

Anyway, Norris recorded (and paid for others to record) "Let's Build a Bungalow" on his own labels more than a half dozen times, from the 1940's through his final records in the 1980's. But I'm going to guess that my new acquisition, heard below, is the first recording of the song, and it appears on Norris' own Co-Ed label, on a 78, which I'm guessing is from the late 1940's (although the lousy sound quality suggests to me the recycled shellac which was used near the end of World War II). It's credited to Carl Bostic and His Orchestra, a conglomeration which appeared on other Co-Ed 78's, as well, including one that I've shared before on this site, in a most excellent performance of an excellent song

For all of the reasons that I described above, this is probably better described as a Vanity Record than a Song-Poem, but again, in the interest of bringing more Norris/Norridge Mayhams to the world, I'm sharing it here. I'd like to draw particular attention to the almost random nature of the piano solo, particularly from 1:45 to 2:10. Some measures feature only a single note, others have flurries of notes which seem played almost by accident. 

Download: Carl Bostic and His Orchestra - We'll Build a Bungalow (You Spell It For Two)


On the flip side, Carl Bostic and His Orchestra return, with a song called - and I want to get this right, exactly as it appears on the label - "I WANT A Co-ED by my SIDE". In case you just thought "Co-Ed was a clever label name, with a clever and unique logo, well, no. Norris was obsessed with all things college, and wrote songs about various aspects of college for much of his life. For me, the highlight of this song is the rather unusual use of language in spots, which is a trademark of Norris' compositions, although the pianist, yet again, makes some unusual choices in both the solo and in his fills. 

 Download: Carl Bostic and His Orchestra - I WANT A Co-ED by my SIDE



1 comment:

Sammy Reed said...

2/21/24: I have just made a new post on my S&B blog!