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Teasing Vegetarians and Dreams of Valentino

It is impossible to listen to Save the Bones for Henry Jones (above) — especially as delivered by Reggie Houston — without smiling at this gentle teasing of vegetarians. This is how it starts:

Today we’ll have a party.
We’ll eat some food that’s rare.
And at the head of the table,
We’re going to place brother Henry’s chair.
Invite all the local big dogs,
We’re gonna laugh, gonna talk and eat.
We’re gonna to save the bones for Henry Jones,
You see Henry, he don’t eat no meat.

For what essentially is a novelty, the song has an impressive resume. It was written by Johnny Mercer and performed by The Pointer Sisters and Nat King Cole. Here is a very different but also great version sung by Cole and Mercer. The first time I heard it, I believe it was sung by Lou Rawls, Ray Charles and perhaps a third star.

Here is the start of Houston’s Wikipedia Bio:

Houston was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Ralph Houston, a pianist and acoustic bassist, and Margarete Houston, who was both an educator and social activist. At the age of 10 Reggie Houston began studying the saxophone. His first professional gig came at the age of 12 when he joined the Batiste family band, The Gladiators, widely considered to be one of the pioneering bands of funk.

Houston continued to perform with The Gladiators throughout high school and while home on holiday from his undergraduate studies at Southern University and Xavier University University of Louisiana. Although performing jazz, blues and funk throughout New Orleans during this time, it was forbidden to practice these musical styles in any African American university in the United States. (Continue Reading…)

Below, Houston plays the old and interesting song The Sheik of Araby. I find anything to do with Rudolph Valentino a bit weird.

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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.