Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Precious Lord

I meant to get this up last Saturday, for Alice's birthday. A belated happy birthday, Alice.
Today's selection is "Precious Lord," composed by Thomas Andrew Dorsey(born July 1, 1899, Villa Rica, Ga., U.S. — died Jan. 23, 1993, Chicago, Ill.) He was a songwriter, singer, and pianist, known as the "father of gospel music." Born the son of a revivalist preacher, Dorsey was influenced by blues pianists in the Atlanta area. After moving to Chicago in 1916, he appeared under the name of "Georgia Tom," became a pianist with Ma Rainey, and composed secular "hokum" songs (those peppered with risqué double entendres). In 1916 he moved to Chicago, where he attended the College of Composition and Arranging. In the 1920s he toured with Ma Rainey and his own bands, often featuring the slide guitarist Tampa Red.
He wrote his first gospel song in 1919. In 1931, Dorsey experienced great personal tragedy. The death in childbirth of both his wife and newborn son devastated him. As he related in the documentary "Say Amen Somebody," "People tried to tell me things that were soothing to me … none of which have ever been soothing from that day to this." Out of that tragedy he wrote "Precious Lord," the song for which he is best known.
In 1932 he abandoned the blues completely and founded the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. His more than 1,000 gospel songs include "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," "Peace in the Valley," and "If We Ever Needed the Lord Before." He recorded extensively in the early 1930s. Many of his songs were introduced by Mahalia Jackson. He founded and directed the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.
Credits : Frank Driggs Collection/© Archive Photos;]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mary Sings the Rose of Tralee

Well, dear hearts, this is an experiment.
I'm not writing much of my own these days - too busy running around to all the appointments and other obligations which life has so rudely imposed upon us. So I thought I might start recording some songs here on the blog.
This is my first effort - recorded with the headphone mic, so it's a little over-driven.
Aside from the technical roughness, this old song is a favorite of mine (and Rick's). I learned it to sing at the funeral of Alex Brannon. She asked me years ago to sing it at her funeral - it was her father's favorite song, she said, or at least one of his favorite songs, and that's what she wanted. When someone asks you to sing at their funeral you answer, "Of course! Yes! You bet I will!"
But that was years ago, and you can imagine my astonishment and consternation when Alex died last winter and I was called and told I needed to sing this song for her funeral. I had not learned it, alas.
But I learned it then, and sang it for the funeral, and have sung it a lot since. Once this tune wends its way into your head, you're hooked. It is charming, that's all I can say, and I hope you enjoy it.
And please get back to me with whether you think posting song videos is a good idea, and any suggestions. I'm on track to do it. I don't think I can do any material that is not my own, or public domain, and that's OK because I'm not getting any younger and when I go so will my songs. Except of course for The Way of Sex, which seems to have got up and flown around the world. Not that I get any credit for it, but it's nice to know I was the channel for a song so many people can relate to, and laugh with. Maybe that's the one I'll do next, if this works.
If I can't get it up on the blog, I may have to go to YouTube, but we'll see.