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Happy Birthday, Junior Parker–Probably

It’s my birthday, so I checked out This Day in Music, which said that Junior Parker — who wrote “Mystery Train” — was born on this day in 1927. In some cases, a person writes a great song that becomes a standard, though his or her version is not so great. Not the case here: The song is both: It is a classic and has been covered by Elvis and many, many others. Parker’s version is great in its own right.

There is a problem, though: Wikipedia says he was born on May 27, 1932.

No matter. Here is more on Parker, whose real name was Herman Parker, Jr.:

In 1951 he formed his own band, the Blue Flames, with the guitarist Pat Hare.[3] Parker was discovered in 1952 by Ike Turner, who signed him to Modern Records. He put out one single on this record label, “You’re My Angel.” This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips, and he and his band signed with Sun Records in 1953. There they produced three successful songs: “Feelin’ Good” (which reached #5 on the US BillboardR&Bchart), “Love My Baby,” and “Mystery Train“, later covered by Elvis Presley.[3] For Presley’s version of “Mystery Train”, Scotty Moore borrowed the guitar riff from Parker’s “Love My Baby”,[7] played by Pat Hare.[8] “Love My Baby” and “Mystery Train” are considered important contributions to the rockabilly genre. (Continue Reading…)

Parker was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

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.

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

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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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