Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Category: Labor politics in popular music

Harmonica instrumentals
Zeroto180

Larry Adler & His Dime Store Harmonica

Larry Adler became a “professional” musician in the eyes of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) when he joined Local 47 in Beverly Hills, where he lived, on July 10, 1948. As the front page of Billboard‘s July 17, 1948 edition reported in deadpan fashion — “Adler Now Rates” [see

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"Cycle Annie"
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“Foreman”: Sanitation Engineer

Scooter “The Music Computer” Magruder – WPFW radio host and general manager of Silver Spring’s Roadhouse Oldies – has work tirelessly to fan the flames of appreciation for our popular musical heritage over the years.  My recent album purchases at Roadhouse Oldies affirmed yet again that plenty of interesting songs remain

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"Lawdy Rolla"
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Prison Work Song Recast as “Rock”

The Guerrillas‘ “Lawdy Rolla” is a King reissue of a European single on Polydor. Points out the YouTube contributor who posted this audio clip: “Traditional worksong recording [from] Alan Lomax’s Negro Prison Blues & Songs – ‘Early in the Mornin” http://youtu.be/lw6GFCupesI  US ish (issue) of a French Congo acoustic RnB/Jazz

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"Bilbo Is Dead"
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“Bilbo Is Dead”: Not the Hobbit

Joe’s Record Paradise – thankfully – is only moving up Georgia Avenue a few blocks. Formerly Champion Billiards – at dusk On my last visit to Joe’s I picked up The Record Men:  The Chess Brothers and the Birth of Rock & Roll – the lone music history title in

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"Jukebox Man"
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“Jukebox Man”: The One Who Keeps ’em Dancin’

Nice deep country bass sounds on this YouTube stereo mix of Dick Curless‘ mighty working man jukebox tale – “Jukebox Man” (#41 country hit) – that was released February, 1971 on the heels of trucker classic, “Drag ’em Off the Interstate Sock It To ’em J.P. Blues” “Jukebox Man”   

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"Cajun Interstate"
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“Cajun Interstate”: Cajun-Built

Thanks to the bibliographic notes in 2003’s The Cajuns:  Americanization of a People by Shane K. Bernard, I was able to affirm that “Cajun Interstate” by Rod Bernard is, indeed, about the building of the highway that traverses the bottom of Louisiana – Interstate 10: “Cajun Interstate”     Rod Bernard 

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"Part of the Union"
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“Part of the Union”: Rockers of the World, Unite

Zero to 180’s tribute to labor continues with (The) Strawbs‘ unabashed and unequivocal anthem to The Working Man – everybody sing along now: “Part of the Union”     Strawbs    1973 “Part of the Union” came within a hair of hitting the number 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1973.  The

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"Hard Times"
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“Hard Times”: Working Man’s Blue(gras)s

The Osbourne Brothers point the way forward on 1967’s Modern Sounds of Bluegrass Music. “Hard Times” – a working man’s blues dressed in modern bluegrass threads – speaks directly to the classic struggle between labor and management: “Hard Times,” the A-side of a 45 (b/w “World of Unwanted”) released in

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