Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This Month in Music (1957): Miles Davis Birth of the Cool released

Birth of the Cool

Miles Davis

Released: February 1957

Recorded: January 21 and April 22, 1949; March 9, 1950

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): 0.28 US, 0.06 UK, 0.34 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: cool jazz


  1. Move
  2. Jeru
  3. Moon Dreams
  4. Venus de Milo
  5. Budo
  6. Deception
  7. Godchild
  8. Boplicity
  9. Rocker
  10. Israel
  11. Rouge
  12. Darn That Dream (with Kenny Hagood on vocals) *

* bonus track added to 1989 CD reissue

Total Running Time: 35:29

The Players:

  • Miles Davis (trumpet)
  • Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson (trombone)
  • Junior Collins, Sandy Siegelstein, Gunther Schuller (French horn)
  • Bill Barber (tuba)
  • Lee Konitz (alto sax)
  • Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
  • Al Haig, John Lewis (piano)
  • Joe Shulman, Nelson Boyd (bass)
  • Max Roach, Kenny Clarke (drums)


4.646 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)


“Where the sound known as cool jazz essentially formed” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

An argument can be made that Miles Davis is the most influential artist in the history of jazz music. He was at the forefront of every major movement in the genre from the mid-‘40s until his death in 1991. The renowned musician was born in 1926 and raised in an upper middle class home in East St. Louis. He took up trumpet at age 9 and by 16 was playing gigs. After high school, he got to play with other jazz greats like trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker. He was part of bands assembled by Benny Carter, Billy Eckstein, and Parker before moving from sideman to frontman in 1948.

After landing a contract with Capitol Records, he went into the studio in January 1949 to record the first of three sessions which would become The Birth of the Cool. The title refers to the idea that it was out of these sessions that “the sound known as cool jazz essentially formed.” AMG It is one of the “defining, pivotal moments in jazz.” AMG The music has “a hip, detached elegance, never getting too hot, even as the rhythms skip and jump.” AMG Cool jazz marked the point “where the elasticity of bop was married with skillful, big-band arrangements and a relaxed, subdued mood that made it all seem easy, even at its most intricate.” AMG

Cool jazz dated back as far as the mid-‘30s with tenor saxophonist Lester Young and pianist Leonard Joseph Tristano. However, it was Davis who “took the form ahead a generation, inspiring an entire school of jazz artists to move the music forward.” CS

That first session, in New York on January 21, 1949, produced Jeru, Move, Godchild, and Budo. ON April 22 of that same year, Davis & Co. produced Venus De Milo, Rouge, Boplicity, and Israel. The third session birthed Deception, Rocker, Moon Dreams, and Darn That Dream.

Jazz legend and big band innovator Gil Evans collaborated with Davis on the project, helping him to assemble the musicians and serving as arranger on some of the material. CS The sessions also highlighted what became a lifelong talent “as a collector of similarly brilliant musicians who would bring about radical changes in musical direction.” CS

The assembled musicians for The Birth of the Cool keep “things short and concise (probably the result of the running time of singles, but the results are the same), which keeps the focus on the tones and tunes. The virtuosity led to relaxing, stylish mood music as the end result – the very thing that came to define West Coast or ‘cool’ jazz – but this music is so inventive, it remains alluring even after its influence has been thoroughly absorbed into the mainstream.” AMG

The four tracks from the first session were released as singles, as were “Israel” and “Boplicity.” In 1953, Capitol released eight of the tracks on a 10” LP called Classics in Jazz – Miles Davis. WK In 1957, eleven songs from the three sessions were released as The Birth of the Cool. In 1989, a CD reissue added “Darn That Dream,” the only remaining song from the sessions.

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First posted 3/28/2008; last updated 3/17/2024.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beyoncé spends 10th week at #1 with “Irreplaceable”



Writer(s): Shaffer "Ne-Yo" Smith, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Espen Lind, Amund Bjørklund, Beyoncé Knowles (see lyrics here)

Released: October 23, 2006

First Charted: October 28, 2006

Peak: 110 US, 18 RR, 10 AC, 15 A40, 19 RB, 4 UK, 2 CN, 13 AU, 12 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.63 US, 1.2 UK, 6.7 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.6 radio, 384.6 video, 764.84 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Ne-Yo and the Norwegian production team Stargate had already been to #1 with his song “So Sick” when they started work on “Irreplaceable.” Ne-Yo initially wrote the ballad from a male perspective, but an A&R person suggested the song would work better sung by a woman. Ne-Yo then envisioned it in the hands of Shania Twain or Faith Hill after the acoustic guitar made it sound like country music. WK However, when Beyoncé heard the demo, she asked for some changes and a drum beat was incorporated to give the song a more R&B flavor. SF

She worked with Ne-Yo on the lyrics. They said they were aiming for a song to which people of either gender could relate WK but the song ended up as a message of female empowerment as the song unfurls a tale of a woman addressing a cheating lover, informing him that he can be replaced easily. SF It may “remind many listeners of concepts central to Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale which remains a cultural touchstone over 15 years after its release.” AB’00

This was the third U.S. single from Beyoncé’s B’Day album, fitting in well with its overall theme of “female strength and independence.” AB’00 Previous singles “Déjà Vu” and “Ring the Alarm” went to numbers 4 and 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively, but “Irreplaceable” outpaced them both, landing atop the charts for 10 weeks. That impressive feat earned the song the title of Billboard’s song of the year; it was also the best-selling single of 2007. SF

The song also won awards from Soul Train for Best R&B/Hip-Hop Single by a Female and from Nickelodean for Kids Choice Award for Favorite Song. The song was also nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year. Beyoncé took a Spanish language version of the song to the top 10 of the U.S. Hot Latin Songs chart. SF


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Last updated 11/7/2022.

Monday, February 12, 2007

100 years ago: Byron Harlan hit #1 with “My Gal Sal”

My Gal Sal

Byron G. Harlan

Writer(s): Paul Dresser (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 5, 1907

Peak: 110 US, 3 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Theodore Dreiser was a famous American novelist whose brother, Paul, struck out to create his own identity by changing his last name to Dresser. He had a theatre background and sang in medicine shows and with the Billy Rice Minstrels. RA He was “a gargantuan man” RA of nearly 300 pounds who “wrote gigantic songs.” RA He was known as an emotional person who shed tears when composing sentimental songs.

People of the era loved sentimental songs, but few have endured through the decades like this one. Part of the song’s success can be attributed to Dresser’s ability to avoid clichés and infuse his songs with originality. RA It is speculated that “My Gal Sal” is about a woman with whom Dresser had a long-term relationships. Her name was Annie Brace, but her professional name was Sallie Walker. She was the proprietor of the most prominent brothel in Evansville, Illinois. WK

However, it was his wife, Louise, who introduced the song in vaudeville. TY2 Dresser predicted the song would sell a million copies, but he didn’t live to see it happen. “My Gal Sal,” also known as “They Call Her Frivolous Sal,” TY2 was the last song he ever wrote RA and it was also his greatest hit. DJ He died in 1906 at age 48.

Byron G. Harlan made a hit recording of the song in 1907, taking it to #1 and making it one of the top ten songs of the decade. PM It would have been the top song of the year if not for Harlan’s “School Days,” which spent 11 weeks at the pinnacle. WHC The Columbia Stellar Quartet hit #11 with its 1921 version of the song. PM Ted Weems & His Orchestra revived it in 1924 and Claude Hopkins & His Orchestra did the same in 1934. DJ It was also featured in the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer and, in 1942, was used as the title for a biopic on Dresser. The song played throughout the film. DJ


  • DJ David Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 140.
  • RA Theodore Raph (1964). The Songs We Sang: A Treasury of American Popular Music. A.S. Barnes and Co., Inc.: New York. Page 311.
  • TY2 Don Tyler (2007). Hit Songs, 1900-1955. McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, North Carolina. Page 37-8.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954 (1986). Record Research, Inc: Menomonee Falls, WI. Pages 554 and 629.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI. Page 14.

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First posted 2/12/2013; last updated 12/9/2022.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way won Album of the Year

Taking the Long Way

The Dixie Chicks

Released: May 23, 2006

Peak: 12 US, 19 CW, 10 UK, 14 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.96 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. The Long Way Around (8/29/06, --)
  2. Easy Silence
  3. Not Ready to Make Nice (3/25/06, 4 BB, 36 CW, 32 AC)
  4. Everybody Knows (5/6/06, 45 CW)
  5. Bitter End
  6. Lullaby
  7. Lubbock or Leave It
  8. Silent House
  9. Favorite Year
  10. Voice Inside My Head
  11. I Like It
  12. Baby Hold On
  13. So Hard
  14. I Hope (10/22/05, 54 CW)

Total Running Time: 66:42

The Players:

  • Natalie Maines (vocals, Omnichord)
  • Martie Maguire (fiddle, viola, mandolin, strings, background vocals)
  • Emily Robison (banjo, guitar, papoose, accordion, sitar, background vocals)


4.235 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

As if following up three albums that sold nearly 30 million copies and a battle with their record label over royalties weren’t enough, this Texas trio now known as the Chicks were facing backlash from criticism of then-President George W. Bush made by lead singer Natalie Maines. Conservative country radio suddenly wanted nothing to do with them. To their credit, Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Robison did not back down. While their country audience diminished, they had become international superstars bigger than a particular genre.

“Their sound and sensibility played to an audience that was much bigger and more self-consciously sophisticated than the country audience, so their shift from country to pop on 2006’s Taking the Long Way feels natural.” STE “The trio’s harmonies still shine brightly, they still play with conviction, and they still have a strong body of songs here.” STE On songs like “the defiant Not Ready to Make Nice [Grammy winner for song and record of the year] and the redneck-baiting Lubbock or Live ItSTE they “don’t sound like they’re in retreat…they merely sound like they’re being themselves.” STE

“They are now savvy, sophisticated urbanites” STE that are now “a little more NPR than hot country” STE with a sound that is “more suited for upscale apartments and coffeehouses” STE than Nashville. The album cover even suggests the newer image with them looking “like they’ve stepped out of Sex and the City.” STE

The band outsourced some songwriting to the likes of Sheryl Crow, Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz), Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Trip Shakespeare), and bluesman Keb’ Mo’. “All are accomplished songwriters whose strengths may not seem to lie in country, but they all know how to structure a song, and they help give the group direction and the album focus.” STE

They also worked with famed producer Rick Rubin. His “skill on picking collaborators for the trio makes up for his typically flat production – it’s clean and classy but not colorful, which it begs to be, given that this is a pop album filled with different styles and textures from rollicking rock & roll to soulful laments to sweet ballads. But this lack of zest in the production is forgivable because Taking the Long Way is otherwise a strong, confident affair that is far from suggesting the Dixie Chicks are being cowardly for moving away from country. Rather, they’re bravely asserting their identity through this varied, successful crossover move.” STE

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First posted 10/8/2011; last updated 2/6/2024.