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Posts Tagged ‘Cannonball Adderley’


I usually go on and on about the real meaning of Labor Day but I am tired today. Here’s a post from a couple of years ago about a favorite song concerning work, fittingly titled Work Song, of all things. Great tune. Have a good Labor Day and just try to at least give a little thought to what the holiday represents.


I call this painting Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a title I used for a few paintings from my early Exiles series, in which this piece is included. I seldom show this piece and am not sure if it has ever appeared here. While I like this piece for a variety of reasons– for instance, I love the sky and hill colors– I never felt it was up to the same level as the other work in the Exiles series. I felt that it was more flawed than the others and too forced, not as organically formed as much of the other Exiles.

But every time I pull this piece out I feel a small sense of satisfaction in it and maybe that it needed to be aired out. I want to play a song today and thought this would be a good opportunity to let this little guy get out a bit. We’ll see.

The song is Work Song. It was written by the brother of jazz great Cannonball Adderley, who originally performed the song as an upbeat  jazz piece. But it has been interpreted by a number of artists over the years, some to great effect. Others, not so much to my taste. But one of my favorites is from one of my  guilty pleasures, Tennessee Ernie Ford.

He certainly doesn’t seem like a “cool” choice if you remember his public persona in the 50’s and 60’s as the goofily naive but affable hick from Bristol, Tennessee. I enjoyed that caricature as kid but it was his music that hooked me. He had a deep and mellow voice and a knack for choosing songs and arrangements that fit him perfectly. His series of country boogies were great and his 16 Tons is a classic. His version of this song is a great interpretation, spare and deep felt.

I couldn’t find a decent video of this song so here is the track alone:

Here’s another version that is a different interpretation from a band called The Big Beats with vocalist Arlin Harmon. I don’t have a lot of info on either though from what I can glean Harmon was a highly esteemed singer out in the Northwest. It’s a solid rocking performance with a different flavor than Tennessee Ernie’s. Give a listen.

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Labor Day weekend and I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, figuring that I was due a break because at heart I always considered myself more under the label of worker than artist. Even in my terminology paintings are more often referred to as works or pieces. And when I was starting out I felt my ability to labor, focused and on task, wold provide a big boost in pursuing this path. And it did.

So Labor Day remains a favorite holiday for me in theme. I like the idea of work and the meaning and purpose behind it. I like the history of the holiday, how the growth of  Labor and Unions being celebrated coincided with the growth of this nation and the middle class, how these movements gave us the protections and guarantees that we all too often take for granted these days. We forget that these  things were not given to the workers– they were demanded and fought for.

Bled and died for.

So have a great weekend. Picnic. Parade. To my friends in Texas, you don’t have to be reminded about work– you have much ahead of you. But take a minute and think about the work you do, the life you live and those earlier people who worked and fought hard so that you might have a better life than their own.

Here’s a great piece of classic jazz from Cannonball Adderley. It is titled Work Song. Jazz might not be your thing but you have to admit that these guys are working it. Oh, and the little piece of work at the top is a new small painting, Sound & Silence, that is now at the West End Gallery.

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