90+ Years of Cincinnati in Song

Cincinnati is hardly the first American city to be celebrated in popular song – nevertheless, it is rather striking just how often the city has appeared in a song’s title, to wit:

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Note the impressive 18-year consecutive run between the years 1960-1978
[Click on title links below for (in most cases) access to streaming audio]

"Cincinnati Hornpipe"               William B. Houchens          1924

"Cincinnati Southern Blues"         Iva Smith                    1927

"Cincinnati Daddy"                  Duke Ellington               1929

"Cincinnati Underworld Woman"       Bob Coleman                  1929

"Cincinnati Southern Blues"         Cow Cow Davenport/Iva Smith  1929

"I’m Going to Cincinnati"           Walter Coleman               1936

"Cincinnati Lou"                    Merle Travis                 1946

"Cincinnati"                        Martha Davis' Torrid Trio    1947

"Cincinnati Bound"                  Cowboy Jack Derrick          1950

"Cincinnati Dancing Pig"            Tennessee Ernie Ford         1950

"G'night Cincinnati, 'lo Tennessee" Shorty Long                  1951

"Cincinnati Rag"                    Buck Ryan                    1955

"Cincinnati Ding Dong”              Art Lund                     1957

"Cincinnati Fireball"               Johnny Burnette              1960

"Cincinnati"                        Frank Slay Orchestra         1961

"Cincinnati Twist and Freeze"       Orlie & the Saints           1961

"Whole Town's Batty About 'nati"    Larry Vincent                1961

"Cincinnati Rock"                   Cliff Nash                   1962

"Cincinnati Twist"                  Field Pat & Les Pumas        1962

"Cincinnati Blues"                  Boll Weevil Jazz Band        1963

"Cincinnati Slow Drag"              Rev. Gary Davis              1964

"Cincinnati, Ohio"                  Bill Anderson                1964

"Cincinnati Breakdown"              Charlie Moore & Bill Napier  1964

"Cincinnati Blues"                  Jesse Fuller                 1965

"The Cincinnati Kid"                Lalo Schifrin & Ray Charles  1965

"The Cincinnati Kid"                Prince Buster                1966

"Cincinnati Woman"                  Freddy Cannon                1967

"I'm Leaving Cincinnati"            Larry Roberts                1967

"Cincinnati Stranger"               Buddy Cagle                  1968

"Cincinnati Two-Step"               Dick Cary                    1968

"World War Two in Cincinnati"       The Shambles                 1968

"The Lights of Cincinnati"          Scott Walker                 1969

"Cincinnati Love Song"              The Two Dollar Question      1969

"Cincinnati Jail"                   Bobby Bare                   1969

"Susie Cincinnati"                  The Beach Boys               1970

"The Cleanest Man in Cincinnati"    Claude Gray                  1970

"Cincinnati Man"                    Mad Lydia                    1970

"Cincinnati"                        Orville Stoeber              1970

"Cincinnati"                        The New Seekers              1971

"Cincinatti [sic] Woman"            Spode                        1971

"Cincinnati Flow Rag"               Rev. Gary Davis              1971

"Cincinnati Flow Rag II"            Roy Bookbinder               1972

"Girl from Cincinnati"              Bobbie Gentry                1972

"Anybody Goin’ North to Cincinnati" Lester Flatt                 1972

"Cockroach that Ate Cincinnati"     Rose & the Arrangements      1973

"Cincinnati Sammy"                  Hoagy Pogey                  1974

"Cincinnati Floor"                  Brown’s Home Brew            1974

"Cincinnati Hornpipe"               John McCutcheon              1975

"Cincinnati Fatback"                Roogalator                   1976

"Apt. #4, 6th St. & Cincinnati"     Joe Stampley                 1976

"Cincinnati"                        Roy St. John                 1976

"Lacksadaisical Cincinnati"         Ogden Wahalia Blues Ensemble 1977

"Cincinnati Growl"                  Roy Ayers                    1977

"Cincinnati and Me"                 Larry Kinley                 1977

"Cincinnati Cindy"                  Ray Campi                    1977

"Cincinnati Train"                  Cathy & Coins                1977

"Cincinnati Stomp"                  Big Joe Duskin               1978

"WKRP in Cincinnati"                Tom Wells & Hugh Wilson      1978

"Twenty-Two in Cincinnati"          Martha & the Muffins         1981

"In Cincinnati"                     Hudson & Bauer Singers       1982

"Cincinnati Jail"                   Lonnie Mack                  1986

"South of Cincinnati"               Dwight Yoakam                1986

"Cincinnati"                        Holidaymakers                1988

"Cincinnati Motel"                  Neal Casal                   1995

"Cincinnati Shuffle"                Sonny Moorman & The Dogs     1996

"Hardrockin’ Cincinnati"            Bran Van 3000                1997

"Cincinnati Streets"                Rachel Portman               1998

"Racing Cincinnati"                 Chamberlain                  1998

"C'mon Cincinnati"                  Delakota                     1998

"C'mon Cinti" (Fatboy Slim Mix)     Delakota                     1999

"Cincinnati Pink"                   Polarity/1                   2000

"Cincinnati"                        David Childers               2001

"Cincinnati Town"                   Fred Leonard                 2002

"Hard Times in Cincinnati"          Jake Speed & the Freddies    2002

"Cincinnati"                        Marianne Kesler              2002

"Cincinnati"                        Crime in Choir               2002

"Cincinnati"                        The Distillers               2003

"Cincinnati Riot Blues"             Ghost Exit                   2003

"Weekend in Cincinnati"             The Bobs                     2003

"Leaving Cincinnati"                Jake Speed & the Freddies    2004

"I Come from Cincinnati"            End.user                     2004

"Cincinnati (Village Queen)"        Glass Harp                   2005

"Cincinnati"                        Trey Anastasio               2006

"Love in Cincinnati"                Prairie Home Companion       2006

"All Roads Lead to Cincinnati"      Jake Speed & The Freddies    2007

"Oh, Cincinnati"                    The Seedy Seeds              2008

"Cincinnati"                        Tila Tequila                 2009

"Cincinnati"                        Sok                          2009

"Cincinnati"                        Jangatha                     2009

"Cincinnati"                        Literature                   2010

"Left Cincinnati"                   Joe Frawley                  2010

"Cincinnati Harmony"                The Dopamines                2010

"Cincinnati Dreams"                 Gregory Attonito             2011

"Cincinnati"                        M.O.T.O.                     2012

"Cincinnati Agony"                  Not Yet!                     2012

"Cincinnati"                        Eric Stein                   2012

"Cincinnati"                        Quixote                      2012

"Cincinnati"                        German Brigante              2013

"Cincinnati Milacron"               Pentaject Corporation        2013

"Cincinnati"                        Holy Holy                    2014

"Cincinnati"                        Remigio Ducros               2015

"Goodnight Cincinnati"  Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start   2015

"Martha (Cincinnati, 1914)"         The Corner Laughers          2015

"Cincinnati Fire Kites"             Scope & Figure               2015

"Cincinnati"                        Zutroi                       2015

"Cincinnati Transfer"               Old Brown Shoes              2015

"Dallas to Cincinnati"              Mr. Hokum                    2015

"John from Cincinnati"              Connections                  2016

"Cincinnati Sunrise"                Carter Burwell               2016

Freddy Cannon (in 1967, backed by Strawberry Alarm Clock) – “Cincinnati Woman

Note:  produced by Frank Slay, who conducted & co-wrote 1961 B-Side, “Cincinnati”

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Worthy of Mention

The City of Seven Hills             Nick Keeling                 2015

(Dis)Honorable Mention

"Porkopolis"                        The Raisins                  198?

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“Cincinnati”: Neither North nor South nor East nor West

“Cincinnati” appears to be the B-side of a Decca 78 that was recorded by Martha Davis & Her Torrid Trio on December 9, 1947 in Hollywood, USA:

Martha Davis not only sang well but played the piano masterfully, as demonstrated on this classic clip for “Martha’s Boogie.”

Martha Davis

“Cincinnati” was written by songwriting duo, Jay Livingston (music) & Ray Evans (lyrics) – a musical partnership known for its work in film, as well as TV – including the themes to “Mr. Ed” and “Bonanza”.

It ain’t south, it ain’t north; but it’s my July Fourth;

It’s a joy, it’s a whirl; for a boy and a girl;

I mean Cincinnati, that everloving town;

Cincinnati, Ohio – that’s the city for my door;

It ain’t east, it ain’t west; but it treats you the best;

It ain’t high, it ain’t low; but, oh my, what a show;

I’ll get there by plane, train, caboose, or canoe;

Cincinnati – coming home to you;

I left my heart on the old Ohio – and there it waits for me;

Get out that firehouse band and shout all over the land –

Here I come a-humming right home to you.

Cincinnati: Hard Rock Capital of the World?

I have an album of repackaged material from the Buddah label – a compilation entitled Heavy Mix – that is one of the odder releases from everyone’s favorite reissue label, Pickwick.   I love that the cover art has a cement theme:

Heavy Mix - Pickwick

Even more intriguing than the kitschy cover concept is the cryptic bit of text at the bottom of the label of “Heavy Mix” cement:Hard Rock Cement Co

First is an unattributed quote that proclaims in classic 1969-speak, “Gettting It Together,” followed by the name of a fictitious business – Hard Rock Cement Co. – that is allegedly located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Not sure I follow, but okay, why not.   Now, it is true that The Sacred Mushroom came from Cincinnati, and it would be fair to call them “hard rock” – as this track from 1969 would clearly indicate.  Or perhaps Pickwick was making reference to the Ludlow Garage – Cincinnati’s closest approximation to Bill Graham’s famous Fillmore rock venues – whose proprietor in 1969 was Jim Tarbell, the one responsible for bringing in such “hard rock” acts as Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, and The Grateful Dead (and who would later become a Cincinnati City Council Member and hold the title – by mayoral proclamation – “Mr. Cincinnati” for life).

My favorite track on this motley mix is a surprisingly supple cover of the theme from the 1969 Oscar-winning film (Film; Director; Adapted Screenplay) – “Midnight Cowboy” – by John & Yoko’s one-time backing band, Elephant’s Memory:

Midnight Cowboy – Elephant’s Memory

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear “Midnight Cowboy” by Elephant’s Memory.]

There’s a nice little drum break starting around the 1:18 mark where the drumming alternates between speakers – consider using this track in the event you need to test the stereo directionality of your computer’s speakers.

Ralph Emery Messes with Joe Stampley’s Head

Normally, I have no patience for vinyl records that are divorced from their album jackets, but I once took a chance on three loose LPs – a transcription of a syndicated radio show from 1977 – and was richly rewarded.  But only because I spent my first 28 years in Cincinnati and am intimately familiar with the city’s streetscape.  It was almost as if my finding this particular item in a Berkeley Springs, West Virginia charity shop was divinely orchestrated as some sort of cosmic contest for this music-obsessed former Cincinnatian, for I had to wade through several hours of a broadcast of Ralph Emery‘s weekly radio show from January 24, 1977 to find this moment.  And what a moment it is.  But, again – only if you know the street layout of Cincinnati’s core business district.

Nine Songs About Her — Plus One About Cincinnati

joe-stampley-lpOn this particular episode of The Ralph Emery Show, Ralph’s special guest is Joe Stampley, who is promoting his latest album, Ten Songs About Her.  At one point in the broadcast, Ralph wants to talk about the story behind the title of the song, “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati” with Stampley, who is completely unprepared for the ambush that awaits him.  As it turns out, Ralph (and I, too) know that “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati” is a non-existent street address – mainly since there is no street by the name of Cincinnati anywhere within the city limits.  But Stampley doesn’t know that.

Joe, who is from Springhill, Louisiana, innocently insists that the song title is the actual location of the girlfriend of a person connected to Norro Wilson, one of the tune’s main songwriters (so says Stampley – although according to this source, Bobby Braddock is the sole tunesmith).  But, Ralph Emery doesn’t come right out and bust Joe.  Nor does he exactly help Joe save face either.  Instead, Emery slyly inquires, “You mean this would be, ‘Apartment #4, Sixth Street in Cincinnati’?”   Stampley, however, pretends not to understand what Ralph is getting at and simply answers, “Right,” but you can tell that by now he is getting wind that the host is pricking his balloon with all the nitpicking over the song’s title.  You can actually hear the air escaping.  So much so that by the time you can hear him declare, “It’s kind of a clever idea, I think” over the opening strains of the song, Joe is audibly deflated – and sadly unconvincing.  It’s a fascinating moment, and one that illustrates why radio is a rare medium when it’s well done.

Apt #4, Sixth St & Cincinnati – Joe Stampley

[Click on the triangle above to hear Ralph Emery grill Joe Stampley about the song title, “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati“]

Ralph Emery Show