“Shoot me a pot, and I’ll pour me a shot.”

June 15, 2009

THE INK SPOTS

THE INK SPOTS

Whatever may be wrong with the age we live in, it has this advantage: Anything can pop into your head and you can find it on line. The Ink Spots, for instance. The other day I noticed an obituary for Huey Long – not the Kingfish from Louisiana, but the Texan who was among the legitimate members of the Ink Spots singing group.

One has to qualify members as “legitimate,” because successful singing groups often have a kind of pseudo-life that goes on and on long after the original DNA has sputtered and died. Anything “legit” about the Ink Spots had disappeared by the early ’60s, but today there are still guys billing themselves under the group’s name.

By some counts, there were eleven men who could call themselves Ink Spots without  running afoul of the criminal code, and Huey Long, who died last week at the age of 105, was one of them.

HUEY LONG AT 103

HUEY LONG AT 103

Reading about Huey Long’s death put a song in my head — “If I Didn’t Care.” This song is one of my earliest musical memories; I remember hearing it on the radio that was on all day in our house when I was growing up. Also, my parents had several of the group’s Decca recordings. I looked around on line and soon found a video of the real Ink Spots singing that song. They approached many of their songs in the same way: the tenor sang the melody and a bass then recited either the same lyric or the bridge, embellishing it with terms like “honey chile’ ” and “darlin’ .”

One of my favorites among the Ink Spots recordings is “Java Jive,” which I found at http://www.archive.org/details/JavaJive . I think that song was original with them. The only rendition I like as much as theirs is Christopher Lloyd  as Jim Ignatowski, singing it in the Sunshine Cab Co. garage on “Taxi,” but that’s a whole other thing. I also like the Ink Spots recording of “My Prayer” by George Boulanger and Jimmy Kennedy — which was the number 3 record in the country for a while in 1939. It’s been recorded by at least 40 different artists, ranging from the Platters to the Mantovani Orchestra. The Ink Spots version is at http://www.last.fm/music/The+Ink+Spots/_/My+Prayer


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