TMBG: Learning Can Be Fun

I’ve always appreciated how They Might Be Giants respect their fanbase and labor hard to provide high value for the entertainment dollar.  While their music has always had strong appeal to a younger demographic, in recent years They Might Be Giants have released albums aimed squarely at the school-age crowd, such as Here Comes the ABCs, (released as 25 tracks on CD, 39 on DVD) which has gotten a lot of airplay around our house.  Note the clever lyric and accompanying animation sequence for “Alphabet Lost and Found“:

“Alphabet Lost and Found”      They Might Be Giants     2005

There is a good reason why this YouTube clip was uploaded under the name of “DisneyMusic” — so says Wikipedia:

“While [the album] was produced and released by Walt Disney Records, the band was reportedly given complete creative control over the project, which at the time was very unusual for Walt Disney Records, which had until then followed a strict artist control policy.  As a result, the DVD features a variety of puppetry, animation and live action supplied by personal friends of the group, including A.J. Schnack, who directed the TMBG documentary Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns).  For guest vocals on a few tracks, they turned to family:  John Flansburgh’s wife Robin Goldwasser, and John Linnell’s son, Henry.  The music videos that appear on the DVD were also aired (in part or whole) on the Disney Channel’s children’s programming block, Playhouse Disney.”

Sounds like Alvino Rey‘s “Sono-Vox” being employed in the phased backing vocals — or some simulation thereof, yes?

TMBG-aDivya Srinivasan is the artistic hand behind the animation on “Alphabet Lost and Found” — check out the rest of her work at her website, which includes an animation reel and illustration slide show.

Here Come the ABCs would be the successor to No!, their first formal children’s album.TMBG-bTMBG Flexi-Disc Trivia

For their April 1992 edition, Reflex Magazine would release a “split 331/3 RPM flexidisc:  XTC b/w TMBG!  Side A features “Rip Van Reuben” – a home demo of an Andy Partridge compostion – with They Might Be Giants’s “Moving to the Sun” on the flip side.

TMBG-cTMBG-cc

“Washita Love Child”: Jesse Ed & Eric Whatsisname

In The World of Indigenous America, Brian Wright-McLeod writes of the “powwow style” and its influence in popular music, as exemplified by such artists as Jim Pepper, Peter DePoe, and Jesse Ed Davis:

“Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche-Kiowa) began his work as a leading session guitarist in the early 1960s when he accompanied country singer Conway Twitty.  The powwow influences in Davis’s music are both subtle and yet apparent to the trained ear.  From his first solo album, Jesse Davis (Atco, 1970), the song ‘Washita Love Child’ contains both lyrical references (‘And I did that powwow thing’) and the combined background vocals of Merry Clayton, Clydie King, and Gram Parsons, utilizing the vocal refrain of ‘hey-ya-hey’ typical of the powwow song style, but arranged by Davis as a standard back-up vocal.  The back beat and rhythm of the song are obviously powwow-based.”

Edited by ROBERT WARRIOR

World of Indigenous AmericaThe autobiographical “Washita Love Child” – with its driving beat and guest guitar solo by Eric Clapton – seems the obvious choice for the album’s opening track, and yet it would get bumped to the #3 spot:

“Washita Love Child”     Jesse Ed Davis with Eric Clapton     1970

Musician credits for Jesse Davis

  • Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Guitar:  Eric Clapton & Joel Scott Hill
  • Backing Vocals:  Bobby Jones, Clydie King, Gloria Jones, Gram Parsons, Maxine Willard, Merry Clayton, Nikki Barclay & Vanetta Fields
  • Keyboards:  Ben Sidran, John Simon, Larry Knechtel & Leon Russell
  • Bass:  Billy Rich & Steve Thompson
  • Drums:  Alan White, Bruce Rowland, Chuck Blackwell & Steve Mitchell
  • Percussion:  Alan Yoshida, Jackie Lomax, Johnnie Ware, Pat Daley, Pete Waddington & Sandy Konikoff
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Frank Mayes
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Jerry Jumonville [solo]
  • Trombone & Trumpet:  Darrell Leonard
  • Baritone Saxophone & Clarinet:  James Gordon
  • Producer, Arranger & Album Cover Concept:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Cover Painting:  Jesse Edwin Davis II

Jesse Ed Davis 45-aJesse Ed Trivia That Might Blow Your MInd, If Slightly

~ Jesse Ed Davis released “Sue Me Sue You Blues” in 1972 before the song’s author, George Harrison, issued his own version on 1973’s Living in the Material World.

~ Jesse Ed Davis provided musical support for two artists who would each record distinctive versions of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” for debut albums released in 1971 & 1973, respectively:  Leon Russell (guitar) and Bryan Ferry (backing vocals).

~ In 1973, when Jesse Ed Davis and Iggy & the Stooges shared the same label for exactly one album, Columbia released a “split EP” (4 songs on a 7-inch 33 rpm record) that paired the two artists, bizarrely, for the first and last time.

Jesse Ed & Iggy-aJesse Ed & Iggy-b

~ In 1987, the year before his untimely death, Jesse Ed Davis contributed a guitar solo on the closing track “At Last” for Scott Colby‘s Slide of Hand album on respected punk label, SST (Black Flag, Minutemen, Descendents, Bad Brains, Hüsker Dü & Meat Puppets, et al.)


Jesse Ed Helped Breathe Life into the Following Songs:

~ “Doctor My Eyes” — the breakout hit from Jackson Browne’s 1972 debut album.

~ “Heal Your Heart” on Stevie Miller Band’s 1972 album, Recall the Beginning…A Journey from Eden.

~ “Open Up the Watergate (And Let the Sunshine In)” on 1974 Bert Jansch album, L.A. Turnaround.

~ “(What a) Wonderful World” from David Bromberg’s Midnight on the Water album from 1975.

~ “Stand By Me” (slide guitar solo) on John Lennon’s hit version from 1975’s Rock ‘n’ Roll album.

~ “Don’t Think … Feel” from 1976 Neil Diamond album, Beautiful Noise.

~ “Hard Workin’ Man” by Captain Beefheart with Jack Nitzsche & Friends from 1978 soundtrack album, Blue Collar.


Jesse Ed Played Guitar (et al.) on the Following Albums

  • Taj Mahal     Taj Mahal     1968
  • Taj Mahal     The Natch'l Blues     1968
  • Rolling Stones & Friends     Rock & Roll Circus     1968  [Taj Mahal]
  • Taj Mahal     Giant Steps     1969
  • Jesse [Ed] Davis     Jesse Davis     1970
  • George Harrison & Friends     Concert for Bangladesh     1971
  • Gene Clark     White Light     1971
  • Roger Tillison     Roger Tillison's Album     1971
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie     She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina     1971
  • John Lee Hooker     Endless Boogie    1971
  • B.B. King     L.A. Midnight     1971
  • Albert King     Lovejoy     1971
  • Albert Collins     There's Gotta Be a Change     1971
  • Lightnin' Hopkins     It's a Sin to Be Rich     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Ululu     1972
  • Alex Richman     Salty     1972
  • Jim Pulte     Out the Window     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Keep Me Comin'     1973
  • Rod Taylor     Rod Taylor     1973
  • Dion     Born to Be With You     1975
  • Mac Davis     Burnin' Thing     1975
  • Harry Nilsson     ... That's the Way It Is  +  Sandman     1976
  • David Blue     Cupid's Arrow     1976
  • Jimmy Cliff     Follow My Mind     1976
  • Leonard Cohen     Death of a Ladies' Man     1977
  • Ben Sidran     A Little Kiss in the Night     1978
  • Jack Nitzsche & Friends     Soundtrack from 'Blue Collar'     1978