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Musings On Music History: In Which We’re Kind Of Blue, Take A Sad Song & Make It Better, and Got Georgia On Our Mind

Posted on September 24, 2013

09.23: On this day in 1930, Ray Charles was born. This baby would become the man who would propel R&B into the future, melding gospel with juke joint lyrics and jazz rhythms, as well as taking pieces of country, rock, and blues along for the ride. A singular, monumental talent, if you only know Ray from the biopic of the same name, then you need to delve further into his catalog, need to experience the albums that defined this man. We’ve rattled ’em off before, but just pick up The Genius Hits The Road (from whence “Geogia On My Mind” came) or his masterpiece Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and you’ll understand the talent in his arrangements, production, playing and voice. Happy birthday, Ray! We miss you, sir.
09.23: On this day in 1949, Bruce Springsteen was born. ‘Nuff said. If you don’t know this man, you don’t know rock, so just give it up. Happy birthday, Bruuuuuuuuce! You still rock harder and put on a better show than 99.99% of anyone out there.
09.24: This day in 1988 saw a song with absolutely no musical instruments top the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. Quick, name that tune! If you said “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin you get a cookie. That cookie, however, won’t help you get the tune out of your head. You’re welcome.
09.25: On this day in 1968, The Fresh Prince, Will Smith, was born and his parents, by the way, did understand. Remember when Will Smith was a rapper? Yeah, it’s just weird to think of him like that now, even with the lilting chorus of “Summertime” rolling through our head.
09.25: On this day in 1980, a monster behind the kit, Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died. The Led Zeppelin legend died at Jimmy Page’s house after a night of drinking, as many have done before and since, choking on his own vomit as he slept. Rather than soldier on without him, the other members of the band decided to close the curtain on one of the greatest chapters in rock ‘n’ roll history. John Bonham was only 32. So young and so talented and so missed. Can you imagine if he’d lived, if Zeppelin had gone on to record and perform through the ’80s, ’90s, and into the present? It could’ve been amazing or it could’ve been awkward. We’ll never know, but it’s fun to think about sometimes.

09.26: On this day in 2003, Robert Palmer died of a heart attack in Paris. Singer of such ’80s iconic standards as “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible,” Palmer enjoyed success in the ’70s, ’80’s, & ’90s, a veritable elder statesman in the world of pop and rock. Yeah, that video, you know the one, with the awesomely awesome guitar-weilding and drum-playing babes in tight black dresses and the brightest red lipstick, still has it.

09.27: On this day in 1947, Marvin Lee Aday was born. He would later go on to receive recognition as Meatloaf, a man who would do anything for love. Except, of course, that. Whatever that is. We’ve speculated over the years as to what that is. Could it be eating live bats like Ozzy? Or perhaps taking a role in a rock ‘n’ roll musical? Or wearing polyester? Or saying “Bloody Mary” three times in front of a mirror in a dark room? The options are endless.
09.28: On this day in 1991, the jazz world lost a legend when Miles Davis passed away at the age of 65. Innovator, improviser, student, and mentor, Davis’ massive influence on jazz, musicians and fans alike, proves formidable. His Kind of Blue album ranks as the best-selling jazz album of all time, while his Bitches Brew album is considered a masterpiece in the history of music, not just jazz. Davis’ life in jazz mirrors jazz itself, as he lived through or led every major movement within jazz from the ‘40s until his death, from swing to be-bop to fusion. Don’t know what we’re talking about? You should.
09.28: 1968, this day, saw The Beatles biggest single hit the top of the charts. “Hey Jude” sat at #1 for nine weeks and has, to date, sold over 7.5 million copies. It also hit #1 in 11 other countries. Considering that the Beatles had 16 other #1 hits (!), “Hey Jude” ranking as the tops says a lot. Yeah, these guys had some talent.
09.29: Jerry Lee “Great Balls of Fire” Lewis, with a whole lotta pushin’ and screamin’, came to be on this day in 1935. The early rock ‘n’ roll pioneer introduced piano to the genre, telling one producer, who suggested he switch to guitar if he wanted to make it in said genre, “You can take your guitar and ram it up your ass!” Yeah, Jerry Lee didn’t mince words or stray too far from controversy in his life. When he married his 13-year old cousin (first, once removed), his career spiraled down pretty quick, yet he is still regarded today as one of the greatest performers ever to set a piano on fire and play it with his butt. (That last part may or may not be be true, but it’s pretty fun to think about.)

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Rock and Rye can be traced to early bar days of a growing nation; a patron would order a shot of rye whiskey (widely available) and add their own rock candy. Was this a precursor to one of our foundation cocktails- The Old Fashioned? Surprisingly, midway through the 19th Century and into prohibition it segued from bar to pharmacy and was claimed to cure a variety of ailments.  Basically it’s rye, sugar, citrus (I imagine whatever a bartender had left over or available).

Famously, in song, Earl Hines had a hit with “Rock and Rye Rag” in the ’30s and Tex Ritter a country tribute called “Rock and Rye” in the ’50s. My personal favorite reference occurs during the classic road-trip scene in the movie Animal House. ‘Boon’ goes up to a bartender and orders a “Rock and Rye” as Otis Day and The Knights play “Shamalama Ding Dong” on the dimly lit lounge’s stage. While barely made anymore (Mr. Boston’s, Jacquin’s  and Hochstader’s still do manufacture versions) and not very visible, it’s pretty fun to bring it back- even in a small way.

So below find my version, I encourage you to make a bottle yourself.
In a half gallon mason jar, add: 1 liter bottle of rye (Old Overholt, Jim Beam) 1 sliced orange ½ of a sliced lemon 6 inch strand of rock candy 1 oz of Angustura Bitters

Shake a few times daily, in approximately two days the rock candy will be completely dissolved. Strain into a separate vessel and then use a funnel to return to the original rye whiskey bottle. Serve over a couple of ice cubes, no garnish necessary.

About the author

Josh Childs
Josh Childs has bartended throughout Boston for more than 20 years. Co-owner of Silvertone Bar & Grill, Trina’s Starlite Lounge, and Parlor Sports, Josh has seen every kind of cocktail trend come and go. On his off nights, his favorite thing to drink is a Miller High Life.
Contact:
Follow Josh on Twitter @Joshua_Childs
Drink Responsibly

100 GREATEST HARD ROCK SONGS

rerer

100
Jailbreak Thin Lizzy
The Boys are Back in Town
99
Nantucket Sleighride Mountain
Mississippi Queen
98
Blind Melon Blind Melon
No Rain
97
Stadium Arcadium Red Hot Chili Peppers
Suck My Kiss
96
Siamese Dream The Smashing Pumpkins
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
95
Steppenwolf Steppenwolf
Magic Carpet Ride
94
Weezer [Green Album] Weezer
Buddy Holly
93
Nothing's Shocking Jane’s Addiction
Montain Song
92
Down on the Upside Soundgarden
Spoonman
91
Nevermind Nirvana
All Apologies
90
Hellbilly Deluxe Rob Zombie
Dragula
89
Ted Nugent Ted Nugent
Stranglehold
88
Love The Cult
She Sells Sanctuary
87
Under the Blade Twisted Sister
I Wanna Rock
86
Rust in Peace Megadeth
Symphony of Destruction
85
Dirt Alice in Chains
Rooster
84
Billion Dollar Babies Alice Cooper
I’m Eighteen
83
Metal Health Quiet Riot
Cum on Feel the Noize
82
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables Dead Kennedys
Holiday in Cambodia
81
Painkiller Judas Priest
Living After Midnight
80
Bad Company Bad Company
Feel Like Makin’ Love
79
Toys in the Attic Aerosmith
Sweet Emotions
78
Alive! KISS
Detroit Rock City
77
Back in Black AC/DC
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
76
American Idiot Green Day
Basket Case
25
Led Zeppelin III Led Zeppelin
Kashmir
24
Exile on Main St. The Rolling Stones
Sympathy for the Devil
23
Painkiller Judas Priest
Breakin the Law
22
Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols Sex Pistols
Anarchy in the U.K.
21
Ten Pearl Jam
Jeremy
20
London Calling The Clash
London Calling
19
The Doors The Doors
Light My Fire
18
Alive! KISS
Rock and Roll All Nite
17
Ace of Spades Motörhead
Ace of Spades
16
The Number of the Beast Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast
15
Blizzard of Ozz Ozzy Osbourne
Crazy Train
14
Deep Purple in Rock Deep Purple
Smoke on the Water
13
Toys in the Attic Aerosmith
Walk This Way
12
The Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd
Comfortably Numb
11
Van Halen Van Halen
Runnin’ With the Devil
10
Live at Leeds The Who
My Generation
9
Nevermind Nirvana
Smells Like Teen Spirit
8
Master of Puppets Metallica
Master of Puppets
7
Appetite for Destruction Guns n’ Roses
Welcome to the Jungle
6
Live Killers Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody
5
Are You Experienced? Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze
4
Exile on Main St. The Rolling Stones
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
3
Led Zeppelin III Led Zeppelin
Whole Lotta Love
2
Back in Black AC/DC
Back in Black
1
Paranoid Black Sabbath
Iron Man

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