Monday, January 7, 2008

Keep hummin´

I had never heard of Johnnie & Jack until Bob Dylan suddenly opened quite a lot of his concerts with a song called Humming Bird back in 2001. I fell in love with it right away. This was when His Bobness employed what I think was his last truly great live band, featuring guitarists Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell, who also provided some stunning vocal harmonies. Soon I found out that Humming Bird was originally recorded by a duo called Johnnie & Jack.

Johnnie Wright and Jack Anglin were stars on the Louisiana Hayride in the fifties and scored many a hit until Jack´s untimely death in 1963. He met his fate - can you believe it - in a car accident on the way to the funeral of Patsy Cline. Johnnie & Jack may sound like a true brother team, but they were just brothers in law. Wright is long married to country singer Kitty Wells by the way, and managed her career next to his own. As far as I know both are still alive and must be well in to their nineties now.

Humming Bird is an ode to a named train that ran from Cincinatti to New Orleans since 1946. "I love to hear your lonesome whistle whine..." Where this song is pure country in the tradition of the Louvin Brothers and Bill Monroe, Uncle John´s Bongos is more of a novelty song, poking fun at the then flourishing beat generation. It became famous in Dylan circles when the former spokesman for a generation based his own Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (from "Love & Theft") on it.

Johnnie & Jack - Humming Bird MP3
Bob Dylan - Humming Bird (Live Paris 29-4-´02) MP3
Johnnie & Jack - Uncle John´s Bongos MP3
Bob Dylan - Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Live Paris 29-4-´02) MP3

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