Tuesday, March 15, 2011

100 years ago: “Come Josephine in My Flying Machine” hit #1

Come Josephine in My Flying Machine

Ada Jones with Billy Murray & the American Quartet

Writer(s): Fred Fisher (music), Alfred Bryan (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 15, 1911

Peak: 13 US, 11 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.36 video, 0.08 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“The song was about the joys of going up in the sky in an aeroplane” SM and captured the “innocent romance and wonder with which early air travel was viewed.” SS In 1911, “flying machines” were still “very much a novelty;” SM it had only been eight years previous that the Wright Brothers launched the first powered flight. Billy Murray celebrated that event with his song “Come Take a Trip in My Airship,” a #1 song in 1905.

The song exemplified “a shifting tide away from the conservative, rural/small-town orientation that reinforced trust family and traditional values, and toward a modern, urbanized approach that questioned the old ways.” SS It was allegedly based on Josephine Sarah Magner, who may have been the first woman parachutist in 1905. WK

The lyricist was Canadian Alfred Bryan, who also wrote the major 1915 hit “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.” This was the first major hit for composer Fred Fisher, who also went on to have success with “Peg O’ My Heart” (1913), “Dardanella” (1919), and “Chicago” (1922).

The song was introduced by Blanche Ring in vaudeville DJ and first recorded by Harry Tally. SM Her version reached #1 in 1911 while his got to #7 that same year. PM Ada Jones also topped the charts with her collaboration with the American Quartet and Billy Murray that featured a “breezy, light-hearted singing style.” TY2 She and Murray also recorded a slightly different version with extra verses and choruses.

The song was revived in 1939 when Fred Astaire sang it in the movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle and again in 1949 for the Fred Fisher biopic Oh, You Beautiful Doll. DJ Leonardo DiCaprio sang a snippet of the song to Kate Winslet in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.


Related Links:

First posted 2/26/2023.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rainmakers return with 25 On

25 On

The Rainmakers

Released: March 14, 2011

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: roots rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Given Time [2:54]
  2. Vermillion [2:13]
  3. My Own Bed [3:10]
  4. Missouri Girl [2:38]
  5. Half a Horse Apiece [3:04]
  6. These Hills [3:46]
  7. Kansas City Times [2:41]
  8. Baby Grand [4:13]
  9. Like Dogs [3:23]
  10. Turpentine [3:22]
  11. Last Song of the Evening [5:11]
  12. Go Down Swinging [3:39]

All songs written by Bob Walkenhorst.

Total Running Time: 40:14

The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar)
  • Rich Ruth (bass)
  • Pat Tomek (drums, vocals)
  • Jeff Porter (guitar, piano, vocals)


3.759 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Quotable: “What could be their most mature and soulful work to date.” – Kevin Triebsch, Atlanta Music Examiner

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

This Kansas City-based rock band formed in 1986 and became popular in the Midwest and overseas in Norway. They released five albums in just over a decade, calling it quits after their 1997 album Skin. The band’s lead singer and chief songwriter, Bob Walkenhorst, returned with a solo album, The Beginner, in 2003. A regularly weekly gig at a Kansas City club led to a partnership with another local musician, Jeff Porter. They paired for an album (No Abandon) in 2009.

However, as Walkenhorst acknowledged, “the response was good…but we realized the people who’d come to see us were primarily Rainmakers fans who wanted to hear Rainmakers songs. We won some people over, but we came back thinking a Rainmakers tour was the next, natural thing to do.” TF

With 2011 marking the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut album, the timing was right for a celebratory reunion tour AND a new album. Pat Tomek and Rich Ruth, the band’s original drummer and bassist respectively, signed on board again and Porter filled the shoes of original guitarist Steve Phillips, who was committed to hs band The Elders.

Walkenhorst acknowledged a difference between the group’s material and his solo efforts. “There’s a distinction between songwriting styles…It’s about attitude. There’s some humor on my solo stuff. No Abandon is pretty serious.” TF “When you’re hanging out with the guys, you’re not going to be so sensitive, although there are some heartbreaking songs on the new one, too. But mostly, there are a lot of big smiles.” TF He also said, “It reminded me that, sure, you can be the big, nutty lead singer, but it’s the combination of people and personalities that make a band happen.” TF

“The good news is…their unique vision and sound is fully intact.” JM This is “a true return to form: traditional rock n’ roll about all the non-traditional subjects – politics, turpentine, religion, friendship, delivering newspapers, dying, dogs, driving in the snow, going down swinging, and one about girls.” VR25 On is another great album from a truly exceptional band.” LTB “The new songs bear the Rainmakers’ imprint, especially Walkenhorst’s inimitable voice and his unusual ways of turning a phrase.” TF “Sense of humor intact, and sense of heartbreak within reach, the Rainmakers deliver it all with meat-and-beer guitars and drums. And a little piano.” VR “For literate, humorous, challenging, lyrics and elemental barroom rock and roll, nobody since Creedence has ever done it better than these guys.” LTB “This is real, this is fun.” VR

“In 25 On, the Rainmakers show that they have not lost one ounce of their fervor to cynicism” JM and “have released what could be their most mature and soulful work to date.” KT “They have not become a listless oldies act and this is not an effort to squander past glory on a distasteful money-grab. This is a great rock & roll album, crafted by masters, who understand that standing behind microphones with all the wisdom of the ages in their back pockets don’t mean squat if the people on the dance floor ain’t smiling. The Rainmakers have managed to…become 25 times as good and still just as much fun.” JM

The quartet used Tomek’s home studio to record the album. As Porter said, “The recording process was very shoot-from-the-hip…And I mean it in good way.” TF

“There are no duds, the Rainmakers don’t do duds.” LTB Songs “run the gamut from a first class melodic rocker (Given Time) to a story of life on the road and the joy of finally getting back home (My Own Bed) to a wicked political stomper that begs Americans to work together (Half a Horse Apiece).” KT25 On has it’s soft spots as well, as in Baby Grand, which will touch the heart of any father of a daughter.” KT

“The second track finds Walkenhorst rhyming ‘ceiling’ and Vermillion possibly achieved for the first time in music recording history (do the research). On Turpentine, the band grooves to a jazzy piano intro and a soulful wonder of a song as Walkenhorst sings, ‘Got the rollin’ bass, got the baritone / Got a ringin’ high tenor reachin’ Jesus on the phone / And a smooth lead singer got the women cryin’ / Sweatin’ salvation, turpentine.’ This song is a prime example of Walkenhorst’s superb songwriting ability as well as showcasing the entire band’s superior musicianship and harmonies. It sounds like a gospel choir straight off the bayou.” KT

“The album closes with Go Down Swinging, a raucous tribute to life itself, if not simply a musical career. Walkenhorst channels his best gritty-voiced good ole boy blowing away that harmonica and professing, ‘If I go down, I’m gonna go down swingin’ / If I grow old, It won’t be gracefully / I’m gonna trip and fall, and pass it off as dancin’ / I’m gonna croak and moan, say it’s a new kinda singin’ / I’m gonna go down swingin’’ as the rest of the band tries to keep up.” KT

“It sounds like the greatest of parties, but it also witnesses a singer and a band looking at what’s left of their lives. The Rainmakers have a multitude of fans around the world who will likely be transported back in time for a joyous musical experience with a band that has been there and back.” KT

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First posted 6/1/2011; last updated 2/5/2022.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

50 years ago: Del Shannon runs up the charts with “Runaway”


Del Shannon

Writer(s): Max Crook, Del Shannon (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 6, 1961

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 12 GR, 14 HR, 3 RB, 13 UK, 14 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 24.0 video, 50.4 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Del Shannon was born Charles Westover in 1934 in Michigan. After a stint in the Army, he returned home to Battle Creek where he worked as a carpet salesman and delivery driver for furniture store by day and in a band by night. In early 1959, he added keyboardist Max Crook, who played an instrumental known as a Musitron, which was kind of an early version of the electronic keyboard. RS500 Shannon was discovered by Ollie McLaughlin, a disc jockey from Ann Arbor, DM while playing at the Hi-Lo Club. TC McLaughlin liked Shannon and introduced him to the owners of Big Top Records. They sent him to New York to record a few songs. A few weeks later, Del received a call telling him the songs weren’t fast enough. SJ

Shannon and Crook came up with the song “Runaway” back at the Hi-Lo. Del recalled that, “We were on stage and Max hit an A minor and a G and I said, ‘Max, play that again, it’s a great change.’” Shannon wrote lyrics the next day KL about a guy deserted by his girl, only to wonder what went wrong. SF Shannon said he wrote the song about himself and his inkling to run away from relationships. DM

After performing the song for three months, they headed back to New York to record it. FB Del proclaimed that if the record wasn’t a hit, he was going to work in the carpet business. FB Once the single was selling 80,000 copies a day, Shannon was offered a chance at a gig at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn. He would earn more there than in a year at the carpet shop. FB

One of the song’s unique elements was the use of the Musitron. Shannon explained that it was created by “’a little thing you clip under your piano and then you put an amplifier in it.” SJ Shannon added, “I think it was the first electronic machine recorded.” SJ It was one of several features to make “Runaway” unique. The song also featured Shannon’s prominent and effective use of falsetto, not to mention the unusual structure of the song in which the conventional repeat of verse-chorus was abandoned. TB The result was the biggest hit of Shannon’s career and the U.K.’s biggest seller of 1961. SF It was “a true pop classic.” TB


Last updated 4/2/2023.