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She Said, “I Can’t Take the Way He Sings But I Love to Hear Him Talk”

This stanza is, of course, from the classic “Up on Cripple Creek,” which was written by Robbie Robertson and performed by The Band:

Now me and my mate were back at the shack
We had Spike Jones on the box
She said, “I can’t take the way he sings
But I love to hear him talk”

I always was curious about Spike Jones, and finally looked him up. I confused Spike (actually, Lindley Armstrong) Jones with Spike Milligan, an English comedian who was the driving force behind The Goon Show, which was a precursor to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Spike Jones also was a comedian — I guess there are few brain surgeons or philosophy professors nicknamed “Spike” — who lived from 1918 to 2002. Jones, according to Wikipedia, was…

…an American musician and bandleader specializing in performing satirical arrangements of popular songs. Ballads and classical works receiving the Jones treatment would be punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells, and outlandish vocals. Through the 1940s and early 1950s, his band recorded under the title Spike Jones and his City Slickers and toured the United States and Canada under the title The Musical Depreciation Revue.

He actually sounds like a riot. Above is the “Poets and Peasants Overture” by Franz von Suppé. I am confident that this is not what he had in mind. A bonus on the clip is the presence of the great Jim Bachus, who played Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and the voice of Mr. Magoo.

Wikipedia profiles of Spike MilliganSpike Jones and Jim Bachus and Google Play were used to write this post.

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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.


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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