ELLN October Music Quick Pick

Each month this year, I have been highlighting an album as part of ELLN’s outreach and engagement, and just to give you something non-legal related to enjoy every month.  I hope you join us on our Forums and at next week’s ACC virtual annual meeting! If you’re an in-house counsel and not part of the ACC or the Employment & Labor Law Network, you can join ACC and ELLN today and see what we’re all about!  I hope to (virtually) see you soon.

ELLN October Music Quick Pick

ELLN Chair Doug Hass has long been a music buff (he founded country music site Roughstock.com in 1993) and long done a lot of driving for and to work.  That’s given him lots of time to indulge and explore his music interests To help entertain you on your commutes or at the gym, office, home, or on the go, Doug is offering a year-long series of picks that will showcase some of the best albums you may have never heard, or that deserve another listen. We hope that each monthly choice piques your interest in these albums and artists.  These may be titles that you have never heard of, but our hope is that your interest will be piqued and your musical world enriched!

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys – The Tiffany Transcriptions (1993)
10 Disc Set: Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora
Disc 2: Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora

When I started this series at the beginning of the year, I only knew one thing: how I wanted to wrap up this year of picks. Last month, I told you about sitting in a tiny bar on the outskirts of Austin enjoying 25 cent Pearl beer and Justin Trevino.  The only way that I could have improved on the evening would have been to transport myself back about 60 years so it could have been Falstaff Beer and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys playing in the bar.  That would have been heaven.  Western swing is an foundational genre, borrowing heavily from jazz, but incorporating elements from many other musical styles, including pop, blues, jazz, Mexican mariachi, and traditional folk.  Merle Haggard once said that to simply call Bob Wills’ music “country” would be like calling Louis Armstrong just a trumpet player. Bob Wills is the quintessential Western swing bandleader. Move over Allmans. Take a seat Grateful Dead.  Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys are the original jam band!

For those of you familiar with jazz, or big band, or other barnstorming genres, you might guess that the biggest difficulty in introducing you to western swing is finding a suitable album.  The only way to get the essential flavor of Wills and his band (or Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, or any of these legends) is to hear live recordings.  To do that, you have two good choices: For The Last Time, the 1973 album when all of the living, original Texas Playboys, with cameos from Merle Haggard, Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, and more, joined an ailing Wills to re-record some classic hits (Wills was present for the first day of the recording, but suffered a major stroke that night that left him in a coma until he passed away in 1975).  Those recordings are a great retrospective, but notably missing was Tommy Duncan, the band’s legendary lead singer who died in 1967.

So to introduce or re-introduce you to western swing—and Tommy Duncan’s voice—my pick is a 10-disc box set (remember those?) entitled The Tiffany Transcriptions.  Wills and his band cut them for radio syndication in 1946 and 1947, and the recordings were later boxed up and released in 1993.  Unlike “official” record label albums, these recordings capture the band live: spontaneous and wide ranging, covering everything from Wills’ hits “Faded Love” and “San Antonio Rose” (both on Disc 2) as well as a version of Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” (Disc 3), and songs from Miller, Goodman, Count Basie, Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, and Benny Goodman.  You will hear traditional folk and fiddle tunes, blues, boogie, show tunes, and even yodeling from the McKinney Sisters.  The joy of digital media is you get to hear records that have long been out of print.  The box sets, or at least individual discs, are still available in small quantities if you prefer that route.  I have linked searches to the box set above, but if you need a place to start, I would go straight to Disc 2, which I have also linked above.

I hope you enjoy (or enjoy rediscovering) this month’s pick!  If you have enjoyed this year’s picks, ELLN’s incoming Chair, Darryl Uffelmann has asked me to continue this series next year, so we’ll tackle the Bakersfield Sound in the next edition!

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