Saturday, January 24, 1998

On This Day (1948): T-Bone Walker “Call It Stormy Monday” charted

Call It Stormy Monday

T-Bone Walker

Writer(s): Aaron Walker (see lyrics here)

Released: November 1947

First Charted: January 24, 1948

Peak: 5 RB, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.27 video, 16.40 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker is often called “the father of electric blues.” SS He “deeply influenced virtually every guitarist during the decade following World War II” SS with his blend of blues and jazz guitar. UP As early as 1935, he experimented with a protype of an amplified guitar. SS He went fully electric in 1939. SS B.B. King said, “Musically, he was everything I wanted to be.” SS

Walker was born in Linden, Texas in 1910. He grew up “steeped in the northeast Texas blues scene” SS learning from legends such as Leadbelly and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He worked with legends such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway, and Charlie Christian. He made his recording debut in 1929 but it was “Call It Stormy Monday,” recorded nearly two decades later, “that made him a legend.” SS King said, “I especially loved ‘Stormy Monday’…’cause it’s the true-life story of a workingman.” SS

The lyrics explore the sadness he feels each day of the week. “As if the classic lyrics sung so smoothly by Walker weren't enough…his sophisticated, jazzy electric guitar work introduced a whole new element into blues guitar playing, both in his single string soloing and his memorable chording.” BH

It is “one of the most influential records not only in blues history, but in guitar history.” BH “It became a song that virtually every blues band had to know; in fact, it was also required learning for countless jazz, soul, pop, and rock performers who may have had no other blues songs in their entire repertoires.” BH “Stormy Monday” was one of the first five inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and only the second blues song inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


First posted 9/7/2023.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd “Blue on Black” charted

Blue on Black

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Writer(s): Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mark Selby, Tia Sillers (see lyrics here)

Released: April 7, 1998

First Charted: January 24, 1998

Peak: 78 US, 8 AA, 16 AR, 12 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 52.1 video, 48.96 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In the wake of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death in 1990, several white blues artists emerged during the nineties as possible heirs to his throne. The most successful of these was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Born in 1977 in Shreveport, Louisiana, he began seriously playing guitar at age 7 after meeting Vaughan. Shepherd released his first album, Ledbetter Heights, in 1995 when he was 18 years old.

That album gave him a top-10 mainstream rock hit with “Déjà Voodoo,” but he found even greater success with 1997’s Trouble Is, an album which produced four top-10 hits on the mainstream rock chart. The most successful of these – and the biggest hit of Shepherd’s career – was “Blue on Black.” The song not only reached #1, but was ranked as Billboard’s top rock track of 1998. GN It was also Shepherd’s only chart hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #78.

Shepherd wrote the song with the husband-and-wife team of Mark Selby and Tia Sillers. Shepherd and Selby had the music down and then Sillers (who also co-wrote Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”) came up with the idea for the lyrics. She noticed Shepherd’s shirt, which was blue on black. As he said, “if you mix those two colors together, black consumes the blue.” WK It became a “powerful metaphor for a one-sided or broken relationship.” SF Billboard magazine described the song as a “widely appealing meld of brooding southern rock, searing blues guitar and alt-country touches.” WK

The heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch recorded the song for their 2018 album And Justice for None. A single was released which featured Shepherd as well as Queen guitarist Brian May and country singer Brantley Gilbert. It also reached #1 on the mainstream rock chart and was a #66 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Proceeds were given to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which aids veterans and first responders.


First posted 12/23/2022.

Today in Music (1948): Mahalia Jackson charted with “Move on Up a Little Higher”

Move on Up a Little Higher

Mahalia Jackson

Writer(s): Rev. William Herbert Brewster (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 24, 1948

Peak: 21 US (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 8.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, 1.93 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Reverend William Herbert Brewster composed “Move on Up” almost as a sermon in which he built up the imagery of a “Christian climbing the ladder to heaven.” WK It was originally intended for one of his religious pageants or passion plays. WK However, the song also had a strong undercurrent about civil rights for “black Americans’ gradual ascent to economic and social power.” TM The reverend acknowledged that “There were things that were almost dangerous to say, but you could sing it.” TM

When it came to singing it, the task was put to Mahalia Jackson, “The Queen of Gospel.” She was born in New Orleans in 1911 and, at age 16, moved to Chicago where she joined a Baptist church choir. She also listened to blues recordings by Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and others. SS In 1929, she met Thomas A. Dorsey, a composer often heralded as “The Father of Gospel Music.” Over the next decade and a half, she toured singing his songs.

While she gained a name for herself, it was after signing to Apollo in 1947 that she gained her greatest fame. In her hands, “Move on Up” transcended the boundaries of gospel music and thrust itself upon the secular world as well. The recording “transformed her career, and the history of gospel.” SS It found an audience with whites and blacks alike, making royalties of $300,000 in its first year of release, unheard of for a gospel song. SS It has reportedly become the best-selling gospel song to date. NRR

The song starts out setting up “the story from earth to heaven” SS before relating “Mahalia’s meeting with all of the heroes of the Bible, as well as family members and friends.” SS Her singing was accompanied only by the standard church instruments of piano and organ, but her “delivery has the rhythm of preaching and the force of a lightning storm.” TM She blended “the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing.” NRR


First posted 1/24/2012; last updated 3/31/2023.

Friday, January 16, 1998

Air release debut album Moon Safari

First posted 4/2/2008; updated 9/13/2020.

Moon Safari


Released: January 16, 1998

Peak: -- US, 6 UK, -- CN, 24 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.39 US, 0.6 UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: electronica

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. La Femme d’Argent
  2. Sexy Boy (2/21/98, 13 UK)
  3. All I Need (11/21/98, 29 UK)
  4. Kelly Watch the Stars (5/16/98, 18 UK)
  5. Talisman
  6. Remember
  7. You Make It Easy
  8. Ce Matin La
  9. New Star in the Sky (Chanson Pour Solal)
  10. Le Voyage de Penelope

Total Running Time: 43:35

The Players:

  • Nicolas Godin
  • Jean-Benoît Dunckel


4.201 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)

Quotable: “Pushing the barriers of what ‘electronica’ could or should sound like.” – John Bush, All Music Guide


About the Album:

French electronica duo Air burst out of the gates with “a thoroughly appealing, otherworldly debut album.” AMG All Music Guide’s John Bush said the album “delivered the emotional power of great dance music even while pushing the barriers of what ‘electronica’ could or should sound like.” WK “A cavalcade of analog synthesizers, organs, electric pianos, and processed voices populate Moon Safari.” AMG Mixmag’s Alexis Petridis called it a “superbly inventive” WK album that “creates a soundworld in your living room, a world where everything’s more shiny, chic and sophisticated than reality.” WK

“Most of their dance contemporaries push the boundaries of trip-hop or jungle, Air blends Euro-dance with new wave. Any futuristic element on their album feels strangely outdated, since they’re borrowed from the early ‘80s, which gives their music an odd, out-of-time feeling. The waves of gurgling synths beneath the spacious, colorful chords and melodies give the impression that the music is floating in space. For all the atmospherics and layers of synths, there’s a distinct pop sense to Moon Safari that makes it accessible and damn near irresistible.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Thursday, January 1, 1998

50 years ago (January 1, 1948): Before the recording ban, a Carnegie Hall performance revives Vivaldi's Four Seasons

The Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni)

Antonio Vivaldi

Composed: 1718-1723

Published: 1725

Peak: 130 US

Sales (in millions): 0.6 UK

Genre: classical > concerto > violin


  1. Violin Concerto, for violin, strings & continuo in E major ("La Primavera," The Four Seasons; "Il cimento" No. 1), Op.8/1, RV 269 [10:10]
  2. Violin Concerto, for violin, strings & continuo in G minor ("L'estate," The Four Seasons; "Il cimento" No. 2), Op. 8/2, RV 315 [10:30]
  3. Violin Concerto, for violin, strings & continuo in F major ("L'autunno," The Four Seasons; "Il cimento" No. 3), Op.8/3, RV 293 [11:20]
  4. Violin Concerto, for violin, strings & continuo in F minor ("L'inverno," The Four Seasons; "Il cimento" No. 4), Op. 8/4, RV 297 [8:50]

Average Duration: 40:50


3.765 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

Quotable: “A cycle of the most popular works ever written” – Aaron Rabushka, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Work:

On January 1, 1948, a recording ban was instituted in the United States. Before the ban, however, American violinist Louis Kaufman revived The Four Seasons, “the best known of Vivaldi's works,” WK with his performance at Carnegie Hall, the first American recording of the work. In 2002 it was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame and the next year was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. WK

It “is a group of four violin concerti” WK “written around 1721 and were published in 1725 in Amsterdam.” WK Each “gives musical expression to a season of the year.” WK “The inspiration for the concertos was probably the countryside around Mantua, where Vivaldi was living at the time. They were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized)…buzzing flies, storms…frozen landscapes, and warm winter fires.” WK The approach “imbued ‘The Four Seasons’ with an undimming freshness and propelled it to undiminished popularity.” R1

“Unusually for the period, Vivaldi published the concerti with accompanying sonnets (possibly written by the composer himself) that elucidated what it was in the spirit of each season that his music was intended to evoke. The concerti therefore stand as one of the earliest and most detailed examples of what would come to be called program music – i.e., music with a narrative element. Vivaldi took great pains to relate his music to the texts of the poems, translating the poetic lines themselves directly into the music on the page. For example, in the middle section of the Spring concerto, where the goatherd sleeps, his barking dog can be heard in the viola section.” WK

“Though three of the concerti are wholly original, the first, Spring, borrows motifs from a Sinfonia in the first act of Vivaldi's contemporaneous opera Il Giustino.” WK “The outer movements…are cast more or less in the traditional ritronello form that was the standard for baroque solo concerti. The opening Allegro gets off to a cheerful start, and subsequent episodes include depictions of bird calls, flowing brooks, rain and thunder. The Largo that follows projects three images at once: a sleeping goatherd (solo violin), rustling leaves (muted violins in the orchestra), and a barking dog (violas). The concluding Allegro returns to the cheery atmosphere of the beginning, rejoicing in the mellow merriment and security of a jaunting shepherds’ dance.” R1

“The first movement of the Summer concerto is orthodox in form, somewhat less so in feeling. It begins with a tutti that represents summery langour and stickiness from the heat. The solo violin speeds things up as it imitates the sounds of a turtle dove and a goldfinch as a cello accompanies with the sounds of a cuckoo. The opening tutti returns, and the stuffiness of summer winds slow and fast is projected in the subsequent solo passages. Some of the solos contrast strikingly in meter and texture with the tutti. The adagio second movement alternates slightly melancholy phrases from the violin with resolute repeated-note phrases from the orchestra that depict the swarming of summer insects. In the final Presto a summer rainstorm breaks loose, with furious repeated notes, scales and eventually fingered tremolos from the orchestral violins leading the way.” R2

“The Autumn concerto’s opening Allegro begins with a jubilant celebration of a harvest. Peasant dancing proceeds with full and abandoned happiness to a joyful foot-stomping (grape-stomping?) beat, and a few drunkards make themselves heard along the way. The subsequent adagio molto, which contains no solo passages, depicts sleeping drunkards in a mostly non-melodic stupor. The autumn rejoicing concludes in the final allegro, where we hear the sounds of a exhilirating hunt. Again the rhythm is unequivocally extroverted, and the sounds of horns (handily implied by the solo violin) and dogs (grumbling in the the low register of the orchestral violins) are unmistakable.” R3

“The opening Allegro non molto of the Winter concerto begins with repeated staccato chords vividly projecting the feel of wintertime chill. Several virtuoso passages for the violin represent the incisive winter winds, and a tutti rich in rapid repeated notes depicts people running and stamping their feet to ward off the cold. The subsequent Largo depicts winter raindrops with pizzicati in the orchestra over which the soloist spins a gorgeous singing theme representing those viewing the rain and ice from inside a warm home. The concluding Allegro opens with a depiction of precarious walking on ice, followed by the blasting of winter winds. Near the end there is a contrastingly mild tutti before some furious scalar passages and repeated notes take us out with a full blast of winter cold.” R4

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Last updated 4/17/2022.