Tag Archives: 1963

Tolerable Xmas Records (3)

I’ll let you into a secret – I hate the song ‘White Christmas’  in its original version.  It drones along, a malformed slice of seasonal tedium, just like all the ones we used to know.

But as it has been brought into the world, we might as well get someone to record a good version of it. Sort of stripped back, soulful, nice brass section,  schmaltz-free, recorded by someone like, oh I dunno… Otis Redding perhaps ?

Wouldn’t that be worth hearing ?

 

Carla Thomas is a midwinter child, born around the Shortest Day (December 21, 1942), the daughter of Rufus Thomas, no stranger to seasonal opportunism himself (‘I’ll Be your Santa Baby‘).

Described by some as the Queen of Memphis Soul, she also dueted with Otis Redding (notably on ‘Tramp’) and in 1963 released what may just about be my favorite Tolerable Xmas Record – ‘Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas‘)

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Almanac – June 16

BLOOMSDAY – in 1904  James Joyce began a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently used the date to set the action of his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called Bloomsday.

 

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1816 – Lord Byron read Fantasmagoriana to his four house guests at the Villa Diodati –  Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori –  and issued his challenge that each guest write a ghost story, which resulted  in Mary Shelley writing the novel Frankenstein, John Polidori  the short story The Vampyre, and Byron the poem Darkness

 

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1829 – Geronimo born. A prominent leader of the Bedonkohe Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.


Geronimo” was the name given to him during a battle with Mexican soldiers. His Chiricahua name is often rendered as Goyathlay or Goyahkla  in English.

 

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1881 – Marie Laveau died. Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, renowned in New Orleans.


Of her magical career there is little that can be substantiated. She was said to have had a snake she named Zombi after an African god. Oral traditions suggested that the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic beliefs, including saints, with African spirits and religious concepts.


Her daughter Marie Laveau II (1827 — c. 1895) also practiced Voudoun, and historical accounts often confuse the two.  Some believe that the mother was more powerful while the daughter arranged more elaborate public events (including inviting attendees to St. John’s Eve rituals on Bayou St. John), but it is not known which (if not both) had done more to establish the voodoo queen reputation.


Marie Laveau was reportedly buried in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans in the Glapion family crypt. The tomb continues to attract visitors who draw three “x”s (XXX) on its side, in the hopes that Laveau’s spirit will grant them a wish.

Some  researchers claim that Laveau is buried in other tombs, but they may be confusing the resting places of other voodoo priestesses of New Orleans.

 

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1963 – Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.


During her three-day mission, in Vostok 6,  she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight.


After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

 

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1999 – Screaming Lord Sutch died. Cult English singer and musican, and founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, who he served as its leader from 1983 to 1999, during which time he stood in numerous parliamentary elections.


Sutch was also a pioneer of pirate radio in the UK, and worked with the legendary record producer  Joe Meek.


His album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named – unfairly ! –  in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.


Sutch suffered from depression and committed suicide by hanging.

 

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Almanac – June 11

1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy was sacked and burned, according to calculations by Eratosthenes.

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus king of Sparta.

The war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been narrated through many works of Greek literature, most notably through Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes Odysseus’s journey home.

Other parts of the war are described in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets including Virgil and Ovid.

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1936 – The International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London,  from 11 June to 4 July 1936 at the New Burlington Galleries.

The exhibition was opened in the presence of about two thousand people by André Breton. The average attendance for the whole of the Exhibition was about a thousand people per day.

During the course of the Exhibition, the following lectures were delivered to large audiences:

    June 16 — André Breton — Limites non-frontières du Surréalisme.
    June 19 — Herbert Read — Art and the Unconscious.
    June 24 — Paul Éluard — La Poésie surréaliste.
    June 26 — Hugh Sykes Davies — Biology and Surrealism.
    July 1 —    Salvador Dalí — Fantômes paranoïaques authentiques.

Dali’s lecture was delivered whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit. Nearly suffocating during the presentation, Dali had to be rescued by the young poet David Gascoyne, who arrived with a spanner to release him from the diving helmet.

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1963 –  Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school.

Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they are able to register.

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Almanac – May 03

1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli born.  Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs.

He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language.

He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.

His moral and ethical beliefs led to the creation of the word machiavellianism which has since been used to describe one of the three dark triad personalities in psychology.

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1932 – Charles Fort died. American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.

Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print today.

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1940 – Conny Plank born.  German record producer and musician.  

His creativity as a sound engineer and producer helped to shape many innovative recordings of postwar European popular music, covering a wide range of genres including progressive, avant-garde, electronic music and krautrock. His immense catalog of work has greatly influenced modern studio production and engineering techniques.

As a musician, Plank is credited on albums by Guru Guru, Kraan, Cluster, Liliental and Os Mundi.

He collaborated with Dieter Moebius on five Moebius & Plank studio albums recorded between 1979 and 1986. The Moebius & Plank sound foreshadowed techno and electronica and influenced many later musicians.

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1963 – The police force in Birmingham, Alabama switched tactics and responded with violent force to stop the “Birmingham campaign” protesters. Images of the violent suppression are transmitted worldwide, bringing new-found attention to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

The Birmingham campaign was a movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham.

Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the spring 1963 campaign of nonviolent direct actions culminated in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, and eventually led the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws.

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Almanac – April 30

1812 – Kaspar Hauser born. German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell.

Hauser’s claims, and his subsequent death by stabbing, sparked much debate and controversy.

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1896 – Reverend Gary Davis born. American blues and gospel singer and guitarist, who was also proficient on the banjo and harmonica.

His finger-picking guitar style influenced many other artists including Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne, Townes van Zandt, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen and Godspeed You Black Emperor!.

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1945 –  Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide after being married for one day.

Hitler shot himself and Braun took cyanide. In accordance with Hitler’s instructions, the bodies were burned in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery.

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1963 – The Bristol Bus Boycott was held in Bristol to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company‘s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews.

 In common with other British cities there was widespread discrimination in housing and employment at that time against “coloureds.” Led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and the West Indian Development Council, the boycott of the company’s buses by Bristolians lasted for four months until the company backed down and overturned the colour bar.

The boycott drew national attention to racial discrimination in Britain and the campaign was supported by national politicians, with interventions being made by church groups and the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago.

The Bristol Bus Boycott was considered by some to have been influential in the passing of the Race Relations Act 1965 which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places” and the Race Relations Act 1968, which extended the provisions to employment and housing.

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