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Louis Jordan: “Caldonia”

This is a fascinating clip — and not just because it features Louis Jordan, which usually would be enough.

The Steve Allen Show pulls off a live remote between New York and San Francisco. The band moves and multiple cameras are employed. That wouldn’t be easy today. It must have been rocket science in the late 1950s, when this probably was shot.

Jordan had a number of hits. His songs, which usually had great names, included Choo Choo Cha’Boogie, Five Guys Named Moe, Is You Is or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)? Let the Good Times Roll, Saturday Night Fish Fry and Jack, You’re Dead.

For the record, the five Moes are Big, Little, Four-Eyed, No and Eat. In Choo Choo Cha’Boogie, Jordan describes a guy who would rather take a train. Shakespeare would have been proud of the line “democratic fellows named Mac”:

Headin’ for the station with a pack on my back
I’m tired of transportation in the back of a hack
I’d love to hear the rhythm of the clicketty clack
and hear the lonesome whistle see the smoke
from the stack
and pal around with the democratic fellows named Mac
Take me right back to the track Jack.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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