Posts Tagged ‘Elton John’

Long John Baldry - Everything Stops For Tea a.jpg-for-web-xlargeSunday morning and I just finished my coffee/protein get-me-started drink and now am working on my first cup of tea for the day.  Something soothing in the whole idea of tea. Maybe it’s the slowness of it, the steeping and sipping  associated with it that attracts me. One of my favorite moments of the day is finishing my cup of tea after breakfast and holding the china cup, feeling the warmth radiate through its thin walls.  There’s something meditative in that.

That brings me neatly to this week’s Sunday morning musical choice which features tea as its central theme.  It’s a song called Everything Stops For Tea from the 1972 album of the same title from the late British blues/rocker Long John Baldry, who in the early 1960’s put into motion the careers of a number of what were to be large stars such as Elton John and Rod Stewart.  I liked this album from the moment I first saw it– must have been the colorful cover that is at the top of the page here.

But I loved the music as well, especially the title track which is Baldry’s cover of a song made popular in Britain in the 1930’s by Jack Buchanan,  a Scottish actor/singer known for his debonair man-about-town roles in the theatre and on film.  Oddly enough for a song concerning one of the most British of things, the song was written  three Americans– Maurice Sigler, Al Goodheart and Al Hoffman.

Regardless, it’s a fun song that I often find myself humming at odd times.  Give a listen and maybe have a cuppa while you’re at it.  Most of all, have a great Sunday.


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Archie Comics Cover _608It’s always interesting to discover something new — a few interesting facts or the true backstory — about things that have been in plain sight for most of your life.  Take for instance the song Black and White , released in 1972 by the pop band Three Dog Night.  The song went to #1 on the pop charts here and, with its pleasant beat and gentle message of racial equality, has been a staple of oldies radio for decades now.

I never really thought much about the song even though I’ve heard it hundreds of times over the years, even singing along with the lyrics that have been embossed in my synapses with repeated listening.  It came on the radio in our car the other day and Cheri and I couldn’t agree on who had written the song.  Three Dog Night didn’t write many of their own songs, most being penned by other, more notable songwriters– Hoyt Axton, Laura Nyro, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Elton John and others.  So whenever we hear one of their songs we try to identify the original songwriter.  But we drew a blank with Black and White.

Looking it up, we were both surprised that it was written in 1954 by songwriters Earl Robinson and David Arkin, a blacklisted teacher and set-designer who was the father of actor Alan Arkin.   This fact  made sense to me because I knew that Alan Arkin was a folksinger in the 1950’s, scoring a hit that went to #4 on the charts with a version of the The Banana Boat Song with his group, the Tarriers.

The song was written to celebrate the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case  Brown v Board of Education which outlawed segregation in public schools and was first recorded in 1956 by Pete Seeger.  In the original version, which Seeger sang, the beginning lyrics are different than the ones that so many of us who know the song through the Three Dog Night version remember– the ink is black/the page is white/ together we learn to read and write.  The original deals directly with the supreme court decision:

Their robes were black, Their heads were white,

The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight,

Nine judges all set down their names,

To end the years and years of shame.

The 1972 version that Three Dog Night recorded was based on one that was recorded a year before, in  1971, by a British group, Greyhound, that had a hit in the UK with it.  The Greyhound hit did not use these original lines anywhere in their version and Three Dog Night merely copied  this.  Though it doesn’t greatly diminish the song, it would be nice to have these lines in the song.  Perhaps by 1971 or 1972 they felt that the 1954 Supreme Court decision was no longer topical or relevant.

So, there you have it: a seemingly innocuous and pleasant song with some real history behind it.

Here’s a 1970 version from the Jamaican band The Maytones.  I believe that Greyhound‘s version of the following year came from this one.

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