Tag Archives: Louis Armstrong

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (8-4-20)

Inspired by the August 4 birthdays of Louis Armstrong, Yo-Yo, Frankie Ford, Timi Yuro, and 808 State’s Graham Massey; and the August 3 birthdays of Tony Bennett, Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Syreeta, and Ricky Blaze.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (7-28-20)


Inspired by the July 28 birthdays of Devo’s Jerry Casale, Rachel Sweet, Rudy Vallee, Stephen Lynch, and Afroman; and the July 27 birthdays of Maureen McGovern, The Moonglows’ Harvey Fuqua, Bobbie Gentry, Juliana Hatfield and Phosphorescent.

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Throwback Thursday – 1964

Between the British invasion, the growth of Motown, and the girl group sound, many arguments could be made as to why 1964 was the best year for pop music. Here are twenty:


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Twenty Facts About And Thirty Songs Produced By Quincy Jones

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1) He’s had a record 79 Grammy Award nominations. He’s won 27.
2) He arranged the Frank Sinatra/Count Basie version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which astronaut Neil Armstrong played when he first landed on the moon.
3) Jones produced the soundtrack of the motion picture The Wiz. He later said he hated working on it, as he didn’t like most of the songs nor did he like the film’s script. However, on the set on The Wiz he got to know the singer who played the scarecrow, Michael Jackson. Jackson asked him to recommend a producer for his next album. Jones threw out a few names and also offered to produce it himself. Jackson took him up on his offer, though his record label thought it was a bad idea. The album, 1979’s Off the Wall, went on to sell 20 million copies and won Jackson his first Grammy Award.
4) While widely known as the producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bad and Off the Wall albums, Jones is also the producer of the hit records “We Are the World” by USA for Africa; “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Lesley Gore; “Angel” by Aretha Franklin; “I’ll By Good to You,” “Stomp” and “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson; “One Mint Julep” by Ray Charles; and “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” by Donna Summer, among others. He also worked with Bono, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Little Richard, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, James Ingram and Patti Austin, plus plenty more.
5) “Quincy Jones is one of the most versatile and potent figures of popular culture….When you listen to his impressive and monumental body of work, it’s easy to understand how and why he’s touched such a broad audience of music lovers. He’s done it all.” – Michael Jackson
6) Time magazine named him one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.
7) In the early 1960s he became the Vice President of Mercury Records, the first African-American at a major record company to reach that executive level.
8) His middle name is Delight.
9) Along with Bob Russell, he became the first African-American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Eyes of Love” from Banning.
10) With seven Oscar nominations, he is tied with sound designer Willie Burton as the African-American with the most Oscar nominations.
11) Jones produced the film The Color Purple, his first foray into film production. He asked Steven Spielberg to direct it, which he did. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.
12) Among his 33 movie scores are the ones for The Color Purple, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
13) He has a daughter with actress Nastassja Kinski as well as six other children.
14) He’s the father of actress Rashida Jones. She’s pretty.
15) In 1988 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment, who produced the television program The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
16) He never learned how to drive.
17) Among the charities Jones supports are American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), MusiCares, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Rape Foundation, UNICEF, NAACP, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
18) In 1974 Jones suffered a brain aneurysm. He was given a 1 in 100 chance of surviving. Family and friends, including Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and Sidney Poitier, planned a memorial service for him, which he got to attend.
19) Today he turns 82 years old.
20) “The thing is to find your lightning – and ride your lightning.” – Quincy Jones

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Ray Charles And The Birth Of A Classic

In 1927, Howard Hoagland Carmichael was working at a law firm in his native Indiana. He befriended cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, who introduced Hoagland to trumpet player Louis Armstrong. Smitten by the jazz music his friends played, Hoagy, as he was known, quit the law firm and moved to New York, attempting to make it in the music business as a composer.

Another friend of Hoagy, saxophone player and bandleader Frankie Trumbauer, suggested to the former attorney “Why don’t you write a song called ‘Georgia?’” and helped get the lyrics started by adding “It ought to go ‘Georgia, Georgia’.” Big help that Frankie was.

At a party one night, Hoagy sat at the piano and began to bang out a tune based on Trumbauer’s suggestion. His college roommate, Stu Gorrell, who moved to New York to make a name for himself in banking, was with him, and suggested a song title – “Georgia on My Mind.”

Neither Carmichael nor Gorrell had ever been to Georgia. In fact, it has been suggested that Gorrell, who wrote the lyrics to “Georgia on My Mind,” was not writing about the state at all. He wrote the song’s words about Carmichael’s sister, who at that time was going through a messy divorce. Her name? Georgia.

On September 15, 1930, Hoagy Carmichael and His Orchestra made the first recording of “Georgia on My Mind.” Bix Beiderbecke played cornet in what turned out to be his last recording session. He died from pneumonia less than a year later at age 28.

That record wasn’t a big seller, but one year later, on September 24, 1931, Frankie Trumbauer, the man who suggested Carmichael write a song about Georgia, recorded the tune and had a #10 hit with it.

In the years that followed other jazz greats recorded renditions of “Georgia on My Mind,” including Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Gene Krupa with Anita O’Day.

Prior to “Georgia on My Mind,” Stu Gorrell had never written a song. The closest he came to doing so was suggesting that Carmichael name a tune he wrote “Star Dust.” Subsequent to “Georgia on My Mind,” Gorrell never wrote another song. He went on to become a Vice President at Chase Bank.

doggies + Ray 2014-09-24 11.53
Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia on September 23, 1930, eight days after Carmichael first recorded “Georgia on My Mind.” Charles became familiar with the tune from all the versions of it performed over the years. He would hum the tune in his car on the way to gigs. He would hum the tune in his car on the way home from gigs. His driver, Tommy Brown, had an idea. Said Charles, “Cat said, ‘You hum it so much, why don’t you record it?’”

Charles took Brown’s advice. In 1960, “Georgia on My Mind” became Ray Charles’ first #1 pop hit.

On April 24, 1979, “Georgia on My Mind,” written by two men who had never been to Georgia, and possibly about the sister of one of those men, was adopted by the Georgia General Assembly as Georgia’s state song.

Today’s playlist is made up of twenty classic Ray Charles’ recordings, including the sublime “Georgia on My Mind.”

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It’s Quincy Jones’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

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Twenty Things You Should Know About Quincy Jones:
1) He’s had a record 79 Grammy Award nominations. He’s won 27.
2) He arranged the Frank Sinatra/Count Basie version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which astronaut Neil Armstrong played when he first landed on the moon.
3) Jones produced the soundtrack of the motion picture The Wiz. He later said he hated working on it, as he didn’t like most of the songs nor did he like the film’s script. However, on the set on The Wiz he got to know the singer who played the scarecrow, Michael Jackson. Jackson asked him to recommend a producer for his next album. Jones threw out a few names and also offered to produce it himself. Jackson took him up on his offer, though his record label thought it was a bad idea. The album, 1979’s Off the Wall, went on to sell 20 million copies and won Jackson his first Grammy Award.
4) While widely known as the producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bad and Off the Wall albums, Jones is also the producer of the hit records “We Are the World” by USA for Africa; “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Leslie Gore; “Angel” by Aretha Franklin; “I’ll By Good to You,” “Stomp” and “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson; “One Mint Julep” by Ray Charles; and “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” by Donna Summer, among others. He also worked with Bono, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Little Richard, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, James Ingram and Patti Austin, plus plenty more.
5) “Quincy Jones is one of the most versatile and potent figures of popular culture….When you listen to his impressive and monumental body of work, it’s easy to understand how and why he’s touched such a broad audience of music lovers. He’s done it all.” – Michael Jackson
6) Time magazine named him one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.
7) In the early 1960s he became the Vice President of Mercury Records, the first African-American at a major record company to reach that executive level.
8) His middle name is Delight.
9) Along with Bob Russell, he became the first African-American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Eyes of Love” from Banning.
10) With seven Oscar nominations, he is tied with sound designer Willie Burton as the African-American with the most Oscar nominations.
11) Jones produced the film The Color Purple, his first foray into film production. He asked Steven Spielberg to direct it, which he did. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.
12) Among his 33 movie scores are the ones for The Color Purple, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
13) He has a daughter with actress Nastassja Kinski as well as six other children.
14) He’s the father of actress Rashida Jones. She’s pretty.
15) In 1988 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment, who produced the television program The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
16) He never learned how to drive.
17) Among the charities Jones supports are American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), MusiCares, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Rape Foundation, UNICEF, NAACP, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
18) In 1974 Jones suffered a brain aneurysm. He was given a 1 in 100 chance of surviving. Family and friends, including Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and Sidney Poitier, planned a memorial service for him, which he got to attend.
19) Today he turns 81 years old.
20) “The thing is to find your lightning – and ride your lightning.” – Quincy Jones

As Friday is dance day at Tunes Du Jour, we’ll kick off today’s playlist with Q’s #3 club hit of 1981, “Ai No Corrida.”

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An Atheist Jew’s Guide To Christmas Music, Part 1

Raised Jewish, I celebrated Hanukkah. For several years, my family also celebrated Christmas. We didn’t go to midnight mass, we didn’t drink egg nog, we didn’t throw a special type of log in the fireplace. (By the way, I have no idea what makes a Yule log yuley). We put tinsel and candy canes on a large potted plant my mother had in the den and bought each other small but practical gifts. For example, when I was 11 for Christmas my parents got me a salt shaker. The Christmas celebrations stopped after I innocently told Grandpa Mordechai about them. My parents were so angry with me they took away my salt shaker.

Though I no longer celebrate Christmas, I still have a major jones for Christmas music. I own many more Christmas records than any atheist Jew probably should. We’re talking in the hundreds.

I eschew Christmas classics performed by well-known middle-of-the-road acts such as Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Kenny G (sell-out Jew), Neil Diamond (sell-out Jew) or Barbra Streisand (sell-out Jew). Frank Sinatra shows up only in a duet with Cyndi Lauper and Bing Crosby shows up only in his duet with David Bowie.

Including the Crosby/Bowie version, I have 15 renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy” in my iPod, by a diverse list of artists including Johnny Cash, The Temptations, Joan Jett, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop and RuPaul.

I have ten versions of “Winter Wonderland,” and that’s not counting the cross-dressing parody “Walkin’ Round in Women’s Underwear,” not performed by RuPaul.

I have “Christmas in Hollis,” “Christmas in Harlem,” “Christmas in Washington,” “Christmastime in the LBC,” “Christmas in the City,” “Christmas in Heaven,” “Christmastime in Hell” and “Christmas at the Zoo.”

I have Christmas songs by most of my favorite artists of all-time, including The Beatles, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, R.E.M., Elvis Presley, The White Stripes, Kanye West, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, and Radiohead.

Some Christmas songs aren’t Christmas songs at all. “Frosty the Snowman,” “Let It Snow Let it Snow Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” don’t mention the baby Jesus or Santa Claus or presents or a bullied reindeer with a skin ailment.

Some of the Christmas songs I have are a bit odd. “I Found the Brains of Santa Claus,” a smooth jazz version of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” C3PO and R2D2 singing “Sleigh Ride.” I have Liberace reciting “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” though his version doesn’t hold a candle to Aretha Franklin’s version, in which the Queen of Soul took a few liberties with the words: “A bundle of gifts he had and what did I get? / As I squealed, opening the package, the same old shit!” Her lyrics are downright Disneyesque compared to Snoop Dogg’s reading of the famous poem. If you’re interested, Google the lyrics because I’m not going to print them here.

I have John Denver singing “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Verse one opens with a couplet for the arithmetically-challenged: “Just last year when I was only seven / Now I’m almost eight you can see.” Santa needs to bring John some flashcards. The next two lines create a holiday image that is less Norman Rockwell and more John Waters: “You came home at quarter past eleven / And fell down underneath the Christmas tree.” Someone needs to get him to a 12-step group. He can attend a meeting with the title character of Fishbone’s “Slick Nick, You Devil You,” who came down the chimney with a keg of brew and spilled Jack Daniels all over the drapes.

I have Sarah Silverman singing “Give the Jew Girl Toys,” in which she taunts Santa by singing “You have a list / Well, Schindler did to / Liam Neeson played him / Tim Allen played you.”

Then there’s the classic “Fairtytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, which evokes the holiday spirit with the line “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy faggot,” something yelled at me every year by those Salvation Army Santas.

Better still is “Macarena Christmas.” I LOVE “Macarena” and I’m betting you do to though you probably won’t admit it. “Macarena Christmas” celebrates the birth of our lord and savior Baby Macarena by taking the chorus from the hit single and uncleverly inserting it repeatedly into a medley of Christmas songs, so it goes “Joy to the world, the Lord has come / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena, Que tu cuerpo es pa darle alegria y cosa Buena / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena / Eeeeeh, Macarena – ay / Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way.” Sound effects of what sounds like an infant with the hiccups are thrown in. It makes no sense, y me gusta mucho.

My favorite holiday album and one of the greatest all-time albums period is Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You, featuring tracks he produced for The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans. Every cut on it is classic and can be enjoyed by the whole family, except Grandpa Mordechai.

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Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight is the first of the eight nights of Hanukkah, so I thought I’d treat my readers to a Hanukkah playlist, with the hope that you’re not tired of all the Hanukkah music played on the radio and in stores this time of year.

I wanted to start with Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy,” which tells the little-known story of the Robot Funk, who does the blessing over the menorah candles, and the Hanukkah Pimp. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

As I couldn’t use the Beck song, I decided to kick off with the classic “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” as performed by the cast of South Park. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

Does Spotify have “Hanukkah Rocks” by Gefilte Joe & the Fish? No? Okay, then. Clearly Spotify is taking sides in the War On Hanukkah.

Suffice to say I have enough Hanukkah songs for each night of the holiday, save the last five.

Running out of Hanukkah-specific tunes, I turn to holiday fare associated with that other big holiday that’s coming up. Many of these songs are considered Christmas classics; however, they don’t mention Jesus or Santa, so for our purposes they now will be considered Hanukkah classics.

With those songs in the mix, our playlist clocks in at just over a half hour. Sigh. I’m adding in Thanksgiving tunes. Enjoy your holidays!

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