Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Cincinnati is hardly the first American city to be celebrated in popular song.  

Nevertheless, I find it curious how frequently — i.e., over 200 songs — Cincinnati (ranked #64 among US cities by population) has appeared in a popular song title in the past 95 years, to wit:   

90+ Years of Cincinnati in Song

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Click on song titles below for streaming audio (as permitted) = 

US artists unless otherwise indicated [bold red ink]

Film soundtracks also indicated in red italics

Cincinnati Hornpipe” — William B. Houchens (1924)

Cincinnati Southern Blues” — Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport (1927)

Cincinnati Daddy” — Duke Ellington (1929)

Cincinnati Underworld Woman” — Bob Coleman (1929)

Cincinnati Breakdown” — Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers (1932)

I’m Going to Cincinnati” — Walter Coleman (1936)

Was You Ever in Cincinnati” — Freddie Fisher (1941)

C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I” — Teddy McRae Orchestra (1945)

Cincinnati Lou” — Merle Travis (1946)

Cincinnati Vout” — Earl Warren (1946)

Cincinnati” — Martha Davis & Her Torrid Trio (1947)

Cincinnati Bound” — Cowboy Jack Derrick (1950)

Cincinnati Hit Parade” — Bill Franklin’s Skyline Boys (1950)

Cincinnati Dancing Pig” — Red Foley (1950)

Goodnight Cincinnati, Hello Tennessee” — Shorty Long (1951)

Cincinnati Rag” — Buck Ryan (1955)

Cincinnati Ding Dong” — Art Lund (1957)

Cincinnati Ratamatati” — Cain & Abel (1959)

High School USA (Cincinnati)” — Tommy Facenda (1959)

Cincinnati Fireball” — Johnny Burnette (1960)

Cincinnati” — Frank Slay Orchestra (1961)

Cincinnati Twist and Freeze” — Orlie & the Saints (1961)

Whole Town’s Batty About Cincinnati” — Larry Vincent (1961)

Cincinnati Ratamatati” — First Percussion Sextet (1961)

Cincinnati Rock” — Cliff Nash (1962)

Cincinnati Twist” — Pat Field & Les Pumas [France] (1962)

Cincinnati Blues” — Boll Weevil Jass Band (1963)

Cincinnati Slow Drag” —- Rev. Gary Davis (1964)

Cincinnati Flow Rag” — Rev. Gary Davis (1964)

Cincinnati, Ohio” — Bill Anderson (1964)

Cincinnati Breakdown” — Charlie Moore & Bill Napier (1964)

Cincinnati Blues” — Jesse Fuller (1965)

Cincinnati” — Bob Braun (1965)

The Cincinnati Kid” — Ray Charles [Cincinnati Kid] (1965)

The Cincinnati Kid” — Prince Buster [Jamaica] (1965/7)

Cincinnati” — Ray Edenton (1966)

Cincinnati Ohio” — Connie Smith (1967)

Cincinnati Woman” — Freddy Cannon + Strawberry Alarm Clark (1967)

Cincinnati” — Van Trevor (1967)

I’m Leaving Cincinnati” — Larry Roberts (1967)

Walk Around Cincinatti [sic]” — Dean Kay (c. 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” — Mirageman [Italy] (1970)

Cincinatti [sic] Cream” — Brett Marvin/Thunderbolts [UK] (1970)

Cincinatti [sic] Woman” — Spode [UK] (1971)

Cincinnati” — The New Seekers [UK] (1971)

Cincinnati Woman” — The Hubbubs [Austria] (1971)

Cincinnati” — Orville Stoeber (1971)

Cincinnati Sidewalks” — Shady Stevens (1972)

Cincinnati Square” — Chuck Robinson (197?)

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 Arrangement (1973)

“(Tis a Sin to Sin in) Cincinnati” — Rusty Draper (1974)

I Went to Cincinnati” — Joe Wise (1974)

Cincinnati Sammy” — Hoagy Pogey [UK] (1974)

Cincinnati Floor” — Brown’s Home Brew (1974)

Cincinnati” — Janet Ellig (1975)

Cincinnati Song” — Vince Bell (1975)

Cincinatti [sic] Boogie” — Emmett Brooks & James Barnes (1975)

Apt. #4, 6th St. & Cincinnati” — Joe Stampley (1976)

Benji’s Cincinnati” — The Sands of Time (1976)

Cincinnati” — Infinity (1976)

Cincinnati” — Roy St. John [UK] (1976)

Cincinnati” — Blue Max (1976)

Cincinnati” [cue to last track] — R Ducros/L Simoncini [Italy] (1977)

Lackadaisical Cincinnati” — Ogden Wahalia Blues Ensemble (1977)

Cincinnati Fatback” — Roogalator [US/UK] (1977)

Cincinnati Growl” — Roy Ayers Ubiquity (1977)

Cincinnati and Me” — Larry Kinley (1977)

Cincinatti [sic] Sleeve” — Changes (1977)

Cincinnati Cindy” — Ray Campi (1977)

Cincinnati Train” — Cathy Lee & The Coins [Germany] (1977)

Cincinnati Capers” — Cal Collins (1978)

WKRP in Cincinnati” (opening theme) — Tom Wells & Hugh Wilson (1978)

WKRP in Cincinnati” (closing theme) — Jim Ellis (1978)

Cincinnati Stomp” — Big Joe Duskin (1978)

Cincinnati Stomp” — Teacher’s Pet (1979)

Cincinnati Star” — Ed Williams (1979)

Cincinnati Dice Man” — Them [Northern Ireland] (1979)

Cincinnati” — Charlie Spivak Orchestra (1979)

The Cincinnati Cowboy” — Ernie Vaughn (1980)

Cincinnati Baseball Saga” — Rusty Ferguson (1980)

Twenty-Two in Cincinnati” — Martha & the Muffins [Canada] (1981)

Cincinnati Milacron” — Pentaject Corporation (1981)

In Cincinnati” — Hudson & Bauer Singers (1982)

Fatty From Cincinnati” — Wonderland Chorus & Orchestra (c. 1982)

Cincinnati Shout” — Ted Des Plantes (1983)

Living in Sincinnati” — Gary Platt & The Porkopolis All-Stars (1983)

South of Cincinnati” — Dwight Yoakam (1984)

Cincinnati Blues” — Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons (1984)

Cincinnati Slick” — John Bunch (1984)

Back in Cincinnati” [cue to last track] — Steve Beresford [UK] (1985)

Cincinnati Jail” — Lonnie Mack (1986)

Cincinnati” — Cincinnati [Italy] (1986)

Goin’ to Cincinnati” — Steve Tracy & King Snakes (1987)

Monday in Cincinnati” — Pascal Charpentier [Belgium] (1987)

Cincinnati” — Holidaymakers [Scotland] (1988)

Cincinnati Blues” — Cliff Barnes & The Fear [Germary] (1990)

Cincinnati 1830-1850” — Paul DeMarinis (1991)

Cincinnati Blues” — Johnny Moped [UK] (1991)

Cincinnati Kid” — Salmonella Dub [New Zealand] (1994)

Philadelphia/Cincinnati” — Banned From Atlantis [Canada] (1994)

Cincinnati” — Mood (1994)

Cincinnati G’s Roll” — Convicted Felons (1995)

Cincinnati Motel” — Neal Casal (1995)

Cincinnati Shuffle” — Sonny Moorman & The Dogs (1996)

Hardrockin’ Cincinnati” — Bran Van 3000 [Canada] (1997)

Cincinnati” — M.O.T.O. (1997)

Hooray for The Cincinnati Reds” — Erich Kunzel & The Cinti Pops (1998)

Cincinnati Streets” — Rachel Portman [Beloved] (1998)

Cincinnati Shuffle” — Christian Bleiming [Germany] (1998)

Cincinnati, Here We Come” — T. Crookham & Accidentals (1998)

Racing Cincinnati” — Chamberlain (1998)

C’mon Cincinnati” — Delakota [UK] (1998)

C’mon Cinti” (Fatboy Slim Mix)” — Delakota [UK] (1999)

Cincinnati’s Burning” — Shylow [UK] (1999)

Cincinnati Pink” — Polarity/1 (2000)

Cincinnati Baby” — Axel Z/Joe Duskin/J McShann (2000)

Cincinnati” — David Childers (2001)

North of Cincinatti [sic]” — More Plastic [Canada] (2001)

Gonna Hitchhike Down To Cincinnati And Kick The Sh*t Outta Your Drunk Daddy” — Nashville Pussy (2002)

Cincinnati Town” — Fred Leonard (2002)

Cincinnati Red” — Viva (2002)

Hard Times in Cincinnati” — Jake Speed & the Freddies (2002)

Cincinnati” — Marianne Kesler (2002)

Cincinnati” — Crime in Choir (2002)

Cincinnati” — The Distillers (2003)

Cincinnati” — Ozark Henry [Belgium] (2003)

Cincinnati Riot Blues” — Ghost Exits (2003)

Cincinnati on Replay” — Lefty’s Deceiver (2003)

Cincinnati at Night” — Jim Hurst & Missy Raines (2003)

Weekend in Cincinnati” — The Bobs (2003)

The Black Brigade of Cincinnati” — J. Rawls (2003)

C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I” — NSPCrew (2003)

Cincinnati Traveler” — Hem (2004)

Leaving Cincinnati” — Jake Speed & the Freddies (2004)

I Come from Cincinnati” — End.user (2004)

Cincinnati (Village Queen)” — Glass Harp (2005)

Cincinnati Road” — Ricochet [Germany] (2005)

Cincinnati” — Nick Danger & The Danger City Rebels [Canada] (2006)

Cincinnati” — Trey Anastasio (2006)

Love in Cincinnati” — Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Three Cheers Cincinnati” — Screaming Mimes (2006)

All Roads Lead to Cincinnati” — Jake Speed & The Freddies (2007)

Cincinnati” — Manishevitz (2007)

Cincinnati” — Sly [France] (2008)

Oh, Cincinnati” — The Seedy Seeds (2008)

Chance Encounter (In Cincinnati)” — The Minor Leagues (2009)

Cincinnati Summer” — Kings of Tragedy (2009)

Cincinnati Bears” — Zavala (2009)

El Chico De Cincinnati” — Anne Arbor [Spain] (2009)

Cincinnati” — Tila Tequila (2009)

Cincinnati” — Sok (2009)

Cincinnati” — Jangatha (2009)

Cincinnati” — Literature (2010)

Cincinnati” — Julie Neumark (2010)

Cincinnati” — Nick Jaina (2010)

Cincinnati” — L.A. Love [Germany] (2010)

Left Cincinnati” — Joe Frawley (2010)

Cincinnati Express” — Ran Blake (2010)

Cincinnati Shakedown” — The Unsettlers [Canada] (2010)

Cincinnati Harmony” — The Dopamines (2010)

Cincinnati Dream” — Gregory Attonito (2011)

Cincinnati Love” — Chris Collier (2011)

Cincinnati” — Derek Reese (2011)

Cincinnati Agony” — Not Yet! (2012)

Sleepless in Cincinnati” — Momentum (2012)

Clouds Over Cincinnati” — Cabin Fire (2012)

Cincinnati” — Eric Stein (2012)

Cincinnati” — Quixote (2012)

Cincinnati” — 2 Mello (2012)

Cincinnati” — German Brigante [Germany] (2013)

Cincinnati” — Vegan Death (2013)

Cincinnati” — Ibiza Vibes [France] (2013)

Iron (Cincinnati)” — Dain Saint (2013)

Vuelo Cincinnati-Singapur” — Manolo Kabezabolo [Spain] (2014)

Cincinnati” — Dani Flaco [Spain] (2014)

Cincinnati” — Holy Holy [Australia] (2014)

Goodnight Cincinnati” — Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC+Start [UK] (2015)

Martha (Cincinnati, 1914)” — The Corner Laughers (2015)

Cincinnati Fire Kites” — Scope & Figure (2015)

Cincinnati Chapter of the Crowned and Conquering Child” — Doleful Lions (2015)

Cincinnati Shuffle” — James Reed (2015)

Dallas to Cincinnati” — Mr. Hokum (2015)

Cincinnati Transfer” — Old Brown Shoes [Austria] (2015)

Cincinnati” — Zutroi [Spain] (2015)

Cincinnati” — Zerostailaz [Spain] (2016)

One More Day in Cincinnati” — The Creekdraggers (2016)

John from Cincinnati” — Connections (2016)

Cincinnati Shuffle” — Big Z (2016)

Cincinnati Moon” — Rumpke Mountain Boys (2016)

Cin Cin City” & “Cincinnati Sunrise” — Carter Burwell [Anomalisa] (2016)

Cincinnati” — Blake Neely [Buck Howard] (2016)

Cincinnati” — Justin Hurwitz [La La Land] (2016)

Cincinnati” & “Cincinnati Waltz” — Justin Hurwitz [Madeline] (2017)

Cincinnati” — Golden Boys (2017)

Cincinnati” — Big Nothing (2017)

Cincinnati, Ohio” — Micah Schnabel (2017)

Cincinnati Sunday” — D-Sisive [Canada] (2017)

Cincinnati Juggernaut” — Hobosexual (2017)

Cincinnati Shuffle” — The Thrill (2017)

Cincinnati Cola” — My Name Is Ian [Wales] (2017)

Cincinnati Blooms” — The Sexual Objects [UK] (2017)

Cincinnati Bowtie” — Sheri Vari [Portugal] (2018)

Songbird of Cincinnati” — Hat Check Girl (2018)

From Cincinnati to Rosarito (Mexico)” — Mil Beats & Main Flow (2018)

Goodbye Cincinnati” — Ramin Djawadi [Jack Ryan] (2018)

Screw Cincinnati” — Bob Rea (2018)

Cincinnati” — Machine Moon (2019)

Cincinnati Chili Child” — Pataphysics (2019)

Greater Cincinnati” — Kinky Friedman (2019)

Stuck in Cincinnati” — Jerry Adler (2020)

Ghost of Cincinnati” — Big Red Machine (2021)

Cincinnati Bogart’s Theme” — Headboggle (2021)

Caballero, Esto No Es Cincinnati” — KLS [Spain] (2021)

The Lake – Cincinnati” — Carlos Rafael Rivera [Queen’s Gambit] (2022)

Kate Cincinnati” — ONO (2022)

Over Cincinnati” — Andy Leftwich (2022)

5 PM In Cincinnati” — Mallio (2022)

Cincinnati Sunrise” — Kirk Degiorgio [Germany] (2023)

Cincinnati” — B.B. Jacques [France] (2023)

Cincinnati OH” — Alex Homan (2023)

Cincinnati Hairpiece” — Maple Stave (2023)

The Cincinnati Tilt” — Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol (2023)

The Jewel of Cincinnati” — Ultra-Lite (2023)

Cincinnati’s The Place To Be” — Li’l Jimmy Reed & Ben Levin (2023)

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Honorable Mention

Losantiville Blues” by Waldo’s Gutbucket Syncopators (1979)

Freddy Cannon (backed by Strawberry Alarm Clock)

Cincinnati Woman

1967

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

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Cash Box

July 15, 1967

Prince Buster – “Cincinnati Kid

45 picture sleeve for Spain

(B-side mis-titled as “Cincinnati Kids“!)

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Notable Album Covers

Title track produced by Shad O’Shea

Recorded at Counterpart Creative Studios – 1979

2015 double album, Cincinnati

Dutch blues group, King of the World

(Album features vocal work from Cincinnati’s Cheryl Renée)

1974 LP by Rusty Draper

One-time Mercury and Monument recording artist

NoteOriginal cover design (above) enhanced for extra emphasis 

 

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Also Worthy of Mention

2016 single track of electronic “glitch” by Spain’s Zerostailaz

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Nick Keeling’s 2015 song cycle that utilizes piano and found sounds

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FLW-influenced Modernist pavilion at Cincinnati’s Bellevue Park overlooking downtown

Actual game broadcasts by Joe Nuxhall & Marty Brennaman;
Recorded and mixed at Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart Creative Studios.

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Related Trivia and Observations

  • Cincinnati Jail” is a song title shared by two Ohio Valley greats — Ironton, Ohio’s Bobby Bare (1969) and West Harrison, Indiana’s Lonnie Mack (1986).
  • Cincinnati Stomp” by blues & boogie pianist Big Joe Duskin was released in 1978, while the following year, Akron “punks” Teacher’s Pet recorded their own song of the same name that made reference to The Who concert tragedy of December 3, 1979 (but did not see release until nearly 30 years later in 2008).
  • Amusing to note back-to-back releases out of the UK in 1970-71 with the city’s name misspelled:  “Cincinatti Cream” by Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts (1970) and “Cincinatti Woman” by Spode (1971).  
  • Intriguing to note that Spain had a three-year consecutive run of Cincinnati songs between the years 2014-2016.
  • 1970’s “Cincinnati” by Mirageman — stage name of Italian pianist and composer, Giovanni Fenati
  • 1985’s “Back in Cincinnati” is the final track of an LP-length tribute to Doris Day (Cincinnatian by birth) from British composer/arranger, Steve Beresford.
  • South of Cincinnati” by Dwight Yoakam (who was born in Pikeville, KY, southeast of Cincinnati) was initially included as part of a 6-track EP in 1984 on Oak Records, two years prior to Yoakam’s major-label debut (bearing the same title and cover art) on Reprise Nashville.
  • Johnny Burnette‘s “Cincinnati Fireball” from 1960 is a rockabilly classic that retains a strong fanbase in Europe and Oceania (note: performed by Led Zeppelin on the first of two nights at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum in 1977)
  • Prince Buster recorded his tip of the hat to “The Cincinnati Kid” (i.e., James Brown) in 1965 in the prevailing ska idiom before rearranging the song the following year as a rocksteady funk showpiece that stands apart from the other Jamaican recordings of 1966 (or possibly 1967 – it’s unclear).
  • 1959’s “High School USA (Cincinnati)” is one of two “franchise” concepts [1961’s “Cincinnati Twist and Freeze” being the other] where the artist made/marketed versions of the song for various US metropolitan regions, Cincinnati included, in this case with spoken-word breaks that specify the names of public and parochial high schools in Cincinnati and beyond — all the way to Columbus, in fact.
  • In 2016, Cincinnati found its way into song titles for two film soundtracks (Anomalisa and The Great Buck Howard), as well as the film score for Oscar winner, La La Land, whose composer, Justin Hurwitz, would then include two additional Cincinnati-themed songs for the soundtrack of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench in 2017.
  • 1977 — with eight Cincinnati songs — is a high-water mark for the pre-digital era, while 2017 proves to be the year to beat with nine songs that name the city.

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Cincinnati-Themed Ensembles

Cincinnati’s The Cincinnatians

Italy’s Cincinnati

Australia’s Nice Girls from Cincinnati

South Africa’s Cincinatti Five

Texas’s Eddie Finley and the Cincinnati Show Band

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LINK to Steven Rosen’s “Sing a Song of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Magazine – December 2020

Rosen uses “90+ Years of Cincinnati In Song as the frame for his article!

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Special Bonus!

My Top 10 Cincinnati Songs.

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Zero to 180’s Top Ten:

Cincinnati Magazine Sidebar Comments

+ Enhanced Historical Info!

#1:  “Cincinnati Hit Parade” from 1950, the oldest entry on this Top Ten list, is a truck driving tale by Bill Franklin, with backing from The Skyline Boys, that bears the unmistakable influence of Hank Williams with regard not only to the vocal but also the prominent steel guitar:

AUDIO LINK

According to Discogs, Franklin started in radio in 1934 at the age of six, performing as The Franklin Brothers, along with his brothers Delmas and Clyde.  Franklin later became a member of The Skyline Boys, singing with the quartet and performing solo work, playing both mandolin and guitar.  “Cincinnati Hit Parade” appears to be among the earliest in a brief recording career that also includes exactly one King single:  1958’s “That Moon’s No Stopping Place for Me” b/w “One Minute.”   Franklin’s interest in space exploration would show up again four years later on a 1962 single release for Loyal “God and Glenn” b/w “Space Flight.”

 

#2:  Jesse Fuller is a blues singer/songwriter and “one-man band” who is most famous for his “San Francisco Bay Blues,” which has been covered by The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Glenn Yarborough, Tom Rush, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Mungo Jerry, Phoebe Snow, and Eva Cassidy among others.  Elijah Wald notes in his appreciation for Acoustic Guitar that Cincinnati was the first destination for Fuller (born 1896) after leaving his hometown of Jonesboro, Georgia.  Writes Wald —

[Fuller] put together a rack that could hold a harmonica, a kazoo and a microphone, and invented the fotdella, a six-string bass with a modified piano action that drove felt hammers against the strings.  The fotdella, which he played with his shoeless right foot, was a visual novelty and gave his music a solid bottom, and he completed the rhythm section by using his left foot to keep time with either a sock cymbal or another homemade contraption that scraped a rubber arm across a washboard.

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Fuller would not call Cincinnati home for long, and his “Cincinnati Blues” appears to recount the time he decided to leave the city behind.  Fuller’s aching vocal and plaintive Piedmont-style fingerpicking, not to mention sublime slide work — on this live performance from a 2006 box set by Smithsonian’s Folkways [Friends of Old Time Music:  The Folk Arrival 1961-1965] — make for compelling listening:

AUDIO LINK

Cincinnati Blues” was included on 1965 Prestige LP Jesse Fuller’s Favorites, although the year before Folk Art Recordings appears to have reissued Fuller’s 1956 EP Frisco Bound and added four additional tracks, including “Cincinnati Blues” – LP retitled as God Made the Blues Volume Two.  

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#3American clear-channel radio stations and imported US vinyl had a direct impact on the development of Jamaican popular music, and how interesting to discover that the King Records influence goes back to the 1950s, as revealed in this excerpt from Young, Gifted & Black – The Story of Trojan Records.

In the mid-1960s, one of Jamaica’s leading lights, Prince Buster, slyly called out praise to King Records’ most famous artist (i.e., James Brown) in this far-sighted fusion of rocksteady and funk – “Cincinnati Kid” – that draws a direct line between Kingston, JA and Cincinnati, OH, while also making a winking reference to Lalo Schifrin’s film soundtrack of the same name:

AUDIO LINK

Important to point out, however, that the initial release of “Cincinnati Kid” (in 1965 or 1966 – unclear) on Prince Buster’s Voice of the People label was in a standard ska arrangement:

AUDIO LINK

To be fair, the city’s name is not an easy one to spell

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It’s also unclear when the new Clavinet-driven funk arrangement was first issued – note that this “live” version from 1967’s Prince Buster on Tour LP is the same studio recording albeit with dubbed crowd sounds:

AUDIO LINK

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“Cincinnati Kid” also appears on 1969’s Queen of the Outlaws LP, as well as Soul Jazz’s 300% Dynamite reggae compilation from 1999.  Original 45 releases can easily command three figures at auction — in fact, one pre-release/white label 45 from “Steve Barrow‘s personal collection” (!) went for £770 in 2014.

#41971’s “Cincinnati Woman” by The Hubbubs is catchy AM radio power pop with fuzztone guitar, “go-go” horns and Laugh-In production sound and yet – surprise – German lyrics!  Fortunately, the song title (in English) begins each chorus and will have you singing along in no time:

AUDIO LINK

“Cincinnati Woman” was released as an A-side in Austria and subsequently included on 1972 Fontana LP Nachts in Chicago.  The Hubbubs would later sign with EMI/Columbia, for whom they would record a handful of albums in the 1980s for the Austrian market.

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#5One of the more amusing observations when one scans the list above of 200+ songs from 1924-2019 that contain “Cincinnati” in the title — 

In the years 1970-71, there were back-to-back releases out of the UK with the city’s name misspelled:  “Cincinatti Cream” by Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts (1970) and “Cincinatti Woman” by Spode (1971). 

Spode’s “Cincinatti Woman” – is distinctive for its “throwback” sound:  galloping guitar lines, evocative of early ‘60s Hank Marvin of The Shadows, set against a lonely Moody Blues-style backing vocal that conjures up the mysterious charm of that elusive lass from the heart of the Ohio Valley, thousands of miles away:

AUDIO LINK

1971’s “Cincinatti Woman” [not to be confused with The Hubbubs’ release of the same year in Austria with the (near) identical title] was a B-side when released by Decca in the UK, France, Belgium, Spain & Turkey.   Discogs informs us that Spode is an “alias of the band Cats Eyes [UK band from Evesham], only for recording in 1971” and that “live concerts at the time were still played as Cats Eyes.”

45 picture sleeves = France (left) + Spain (right)

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#6Cincinnati Square” by Chuck Robinson is a groovy early 1970s “psych-jazz-funk” celebration of that super hip and happening gathering spot – “Cincinnati Square”— that, uh, doesn’t actually exist.   However, let’s give the singer the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant Fountain Square (in the heart of downtown), so as not to bring the party down any further:

AUDIO LINK

Like a necklace you wear, “Cincinnati Square” is the B-side of the sole (and rather obscure) release by tiny indie label, Borfork, about which scant information is available.

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#7Former King Records producer, songwriter, and talent scout, Ray Pennington (who left us this past October), wrangled pioneering country-jazz steel guitarist, Buddy Emmons, on a western swing number – “Cincinnati Blues” — that declares Cincinnati to be the most effective restorative treatment in buoying the singer’s ailing spirits:

AUDIO LINK

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Released as a 45 on Step One Records in 1985, “Cincinnati Blues” was also the closing track of 1984 double-LP Swingin’ From the 40’s Thru the 80s, with backing from The Swing Shift Band.  Step One is a Nashville indie label that was founded the same year as this single’s release.  According to Discogs:

The label was founded by singer-songwriter and producer Ray Pennington with Curtis Potter, the former of whom had produced for Waylon Jennings.  At the time of the label’s foundation, it was one of the few independent country music labels to have significant chart success, most notably in 1991, when the label released Clinton Gregory’s “(If It Weren’t for Country Music) I’d Go Crazy“, the only independently-released single on the Billboard country charts at the time of its release. The label lasted into the mid 1990s, having Top 40 success again in 1996 with Western Flyer’s “What Will You Do With M-E?“. Other artists signed to the label included The Geezinslaws, Ray Price, Faron Young, and Pennington himself.

Randy McNutt added this wonderful tribute on Facebook:

Ray Pennington was one of the best writers in Nashville.  King Records founder Syd Nathan loved him.  Ray once told me, during a session in the 1980s, that he would be “still be working for The Man today if he was alive.”  Ray was an easy-going guy who wrote many country hits.  At King, he was a hit songwriter too.  But in Nashville, he blossomed.  As a singer, he recorded for Monument and other labels.  As an A&R man at RCA, he produced a lot of big acts, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Price, and Waylon Jennings.  He produced and wrote Jennings’ “I’m a Ramblin’ Man.”  Ray wrote it back in his early years in Cincinnati, when he performed under his own name and also as Ray Starr.  He did rockabilly, country, and R&B.  He intended for the song it to be done in a R&B style.  I wonder if Jennings appreciated it.  “Jennings and Nelson hated Ray,” producer Carl Edmondson told me.  Ray cut one of Carl’s songs, “I Break Easy.”  Perhaps Jennings and Nelson saw themselves as the Outlaws and Ray as the traditionalist.  I can’t see why anyone would have disliked him. He had a lot of friends in Cincinnati and Nashville.  He did not play the role.  I am including here a recording I co-produced with Ray back in 1980.  We used Ray’s usual studio band, which included the talented guitarist and songwriter Dave Kirby and drummer D.J. Fontana.  We recorded a song written by the great Norro Wilson, who was hot then.  The band listened to a demo of “Mama McCluskie,” then knocked it out perfectly on the first take.  I gave the players no lead sheets.  They didn’t need any.  I told Ray that it sounded perfect to me.  He said, “We’ll do a couple of more takes just to get our money’s worth.”  We ended up using the first.  Ray will be missed.  RIP, Mr. Ramblin’ Man.

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#8Tuneful, jangly guitars come to the fore on this fetching, uptempo indie-pop number “Cincinnati” by a Scottish band, Holidaymakers, who recorded a couple singles in the UK in the late 1980s for Newcastle-based indie label, Woosh — and then nothing more.  Released in 1988 – the bicentennial year, coincidentally, of the city that began life as ‘Losantiville‘ (until General Arthur St. Clair intervened) – “Cincinnati” was the second of three releases for Holidaymakers:

AUDIO LINK

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#9Findlay Market and (if I’m not mistaken) the city’s abandoned subway get a shout-out in a song – “Oh, Cincinnati” by The Seedy Seeds from 2008 – that sure sounds, to my ears, like an obvious (though unlikely) local radio hit, with wistful banjo lines tempered by a modern pop sensibility that somehow manages to convey a hopefulness throughout:

AUDIO LINK

Instruments and vocals by Margaret Darling and Mike Ingram (with assistance from friends and family), “Oh, Cincinnati” can be found on The Seedy Seeds’ debut CD release Count the Days — available through Bandcamp:

BANDCAMP LINK

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#10Zavala (given name, Alex) – of Seattle “alternative” hip hop duo Dark Time Sunshine – stepped out on his own in 2009 on a split LP with PNS (Juvenal Robles) entitled Canciones Modernas.  The irresistible groove of Zavala’s hip hop/funk instrumental with the odd title – “Cincinnati Bears” – makes an ideal backdrop for a scenic Cincinnati drive:

AUDIO LINK

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Zavala’s 2017 work Fantasmas is considered the producer’s first proper solo album.  Dark Time Sunshine’s latest effort Lore will be released February 4, 2021.

LINK to Dark Time Sunshine’s Bandcamp site

 ALSO WORTH NOTING —

Another notable hip hop number is 1994’s “Cincinnati” by Mood (produced by Hi-Tek), the kick-off track on a 4-song cassette demo that was “pushed out to radio and stores,” according to Discogs [Butch Gibson informs me the group was previously known as Three Below Zero].  “Cincinnati” was also used as the closing track on the Cincinnati group’s 1997 debut album, Doom, on which Talib Kweli guests on five of the tracks:

AUDIO LINK

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Cincinnati Spotlight:  

Dean Kay and His Elusive Cincinnati Song from 1967

According to the text that accompanies this streaming audio clip of Dean Kay singing his original composition “Sittin’ in a Drum”:

Taken from US test pressing single-side Acetate LP (Harmony Recorders) [entitled] Dean Kay – Who Is Dean Kay … Ultra-scarce test pressing/acetate of Dean Kay. Songs written/copyrighted by Dean Kay Thomson and Hal Blair around 1967-68. Songs are most likely unpublished, making this record even more interesting.

Walking Around Cincinatti [sic]” is the second of five songs that can be found on a disc, of which only one copy exists!  Fascinatingly, Dean Kay himself chimed in one year ago with this comment attached to the YouTube streaming audio clip:

Hi … I’m Dean Kay.  This IS interesting to me.  I don’t think I have a copy of this track or the other tracks on the Acetate.  This is a true one-off.  I hand made the sleeve and gave it to the producer, Bob Ross, alone with the Acetate, as a joke.  I’m assuming that the album was among the items in Bob’s estate and was probably donated, thrown away or sold after he passed.  The tracks were produced in Hollywood probably in 1967-68 (as suggested above) with the idea of pitching them around to try to land a record deal … Didn’t happen.  I started seeing the sleeve on the net a year or so ago.  This is the first time any of the tracks have been uploaded.  Kind of fun to hear this 50 years after the fact.  Of interest, perhaps, is that the lyricist, Hal Blair, wrote 13 songs recorded by Elvis in addition to many big hit records … you can read about him on my website. http://www.deankay.com/clients.html#halBlair  You might find other interesting things on my website http://www.deankay.com as well.

The homemade artwork – priceless

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Brading’s Cincinnati Cream Lager Beer

1958 advertisement – Canadian brewery

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Sing a Song of Cincinnati” by Steven Rosen
Cincinnati Magazine – December 2020

(Illustration by Zachary Ghaderi)