15/03/2019: “The Jitterbug Waltz” by Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins is surely one of the best guitarists of all time. Not just for his technical ability, but for his ability to turn the guitar into an emotional weapon.

When wielded by him, the guitar truly transcends its nature as a lump of wood with six metal strings, and becomes more like a paintbrush.

“The Jitterbug” for example, is for me highly evocative of Hawaii. It’s got that distinctive twang and bend common to a certain type of Hawaiian song. In fairness, that style is well known in certain varieties of Country music as well.

Country music is really the tradition in which Chet Atkins is most firmly rooted. He does do a lot of Jazz as well, which is where this song is from. This is his interpretation of the 1942 song by Fats Waller and His Rhythm, which is very different, not least because it’s driven by a Hammond organ.

Chet Atkins’ version of the song was released in 1951 as a single.

There are a few versions around, but I like this one best!

So bewitching!

24/12/2018: “Christmas Eve Can Kill You” by The Everly Brothers

I will do a happy, traditional Christmas song tomorrow. But today, I wanted to do something different.

“Christmas Eve Can Kill You” is a reminder that for a lot of people, Christmas is a sad, lonely time. Think of the huge numbers of homeless people who are cold and lonely at a time of extravagance and “good cheer”.

It’s about a man hitchhiking on Christmas Eve, and getting ignored, so he has to trudge in the snow, alone.

The song is very much an Everly Brothers standard template, which is a good thing. It’s obviously a melancholy song, but very beautiful. It’s a country-esque instrumental, with guitar fingerpicking, and a mournful steel guitar. The Everly Brothers’ harmony singing is wonderful here, and the story is expressed movingly.

A line like “take pity on the stranger in the cold” makes its meaning pretty clear…

The song was written by David Linde, and released by the Everly Brothers in 1971.

A thought provoking take on Christmas.