Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yuppies in the Skies

Tom Paxton among the early Yuppies
This is another great Tom Paxton song from the 80s. Paxton takes off on "Ghost Riders in the Sky" in a parody of the Yuppie culture. A lot of Paxton's songs are topical and have a fairly short shelf life. If you remember the big Yuppie culture though, this one's still funny.

Tom wrote another one about the coming plague of lawyers called "One Million Lawyers". His prediction has since come true. He wrote one about the planet Pluto's demotion to dwarf planet. The song is funny. Some of his stuff is poignant like "Hobo's Lullaby". And he does do some kids song like "Daddy's Takin' Us to the Zoo Tomorrow."

Here's Tom Paxton with "Yuppies in the Skies".

Tom Paxton has a website at

Check it out.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Last Thing on My Mind

First time I heard this song, it was Peter, Paul and Mary who sang it. I didn't find out till I bought the music that someone named Tom Paxton wrote the song. Later on I took the kids to a folk concert in Fort Worth, Texas where both PP&M and Tom Paxton performed the same night. One of the songs Tom sang was "Last Thing on My Mind," a lament about lost love - the kind that's your fault. Tom writes a lot of protest songs. Some I agree with and some I don't. I'm funny like that about folk music.

Here's Tom singing "Last Thing on My Mind," with another favorite of mine, Liam Clancy of the Clancy brothers. There are much better sounding versions of this song, but I couldn't resist a live version with Liam.

Kind of a sad song, but the guitar part is very nice. I learned to play it on the guitar and used to sing it when girlfriend's broke up with me. That actually happened a lot. This song got me through some bad days.

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Very Last Day

One of my early folk gospel favorites was Very Last Day by the inimitable Peter, Paul & Mary. Paul was actually a Christian and was responsible for the trio's inclusion of Christian folk music selections on many of their albums.  I actually performed this once for Sabbath School when I had the music crew stand me up. It's kind of a militant sort of Christian song - rather like Oh, Sinner Man, so I let 'em all have it with my rather aggressive version of Very Last Day.

PP&M do a terrific job of capturing the intensity of the song. Remember this was back when SDA pastors were preaching hard about the time of trouble and the return of Christ. This song seems to catch the determination of people holding on while waiting for the coming of the Lord.  Here's Very Last Day.


Love the way these guys work the harmony. Nobody does it better. They make it sound effortless, but they really worked hard to achieve that perfect sound. I still play this song when I feel militant about the Second Coming.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

Ever once in a while you stumble across a weird little song and it just sticks in your head. This little ditty by Louden Wainright III celebrates an experience we've all had driving down a country road late at night. this is one of those songs you sing at the top of you lungs when you're driving along alone and feeling just a bit unhappy with the state of affairs in the world and you just want to express your frustration with the things.

Here's Louden Wainright III with "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road".

Now wasn't that just as uplifting as all git-out?


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Polly Wolly Doodle

My Grandpa used to play this song on his harmonica when we were kids. He had a verse about a peanut on the railroad track, his heart was all aflutter, and along came a train with a clickety-clack and it was toot toot peanut butter. He could always get a laugh out of anyone ten years old and younger. 

"Polly Wolly Doodle" was my favorite one of his harmonica tunes. He could do this triple tonguing deal that I have never been able to pull off. My #2 favorite song of his was a somewhat risque ballad called "I Never Loved Her Like I Loved Her Last Night in the Back of My Cadillac 8".  I think there may have been a story behind that, because my grandmother tended to get flustered when he played it. As I learned later, Grandpa and Honeymama (my grandmother's grandkid name) went out on a date one night and drove to Itasca, found a preacher and got married. Then Grandpa took her home and they didn't tell her father, my great grand papaw, about if for two weeks cause they were both afraid of him. I rather suspect my Honeymama and Grandpa did NOT drive straight home from Itasca that momentous date night. I've driven on those back roads and there are plenty of places to park I can tell you. Grandpa always had a little grin on his face when he played "Cadillac 8". Honeymom just rolled her eyes and left the room.

A friend of mine hooked me on Leon Redbone years ago and I especially loved his bluesy mellow version of Polly Wolly Doodle. I learned to play the song on the harmonica by playing along with a Leon Redbone tape I recorded off the original vinyl album. It was a little scratchy, but that kind of goes with old Leon's style..............and Grandpa's.  Here's Leon Redbone with Polly Wolly Doodle:

Singin' polly wolly doodle all day...

Singin' polly wolly doodle all day...

Singin' polly wolly doodle all day...

That's the way I remember the ending.


Friday, August 18, 2017

I Can Only Imagine

This song has a special place in my heart. It was one of my son Micah's favorite song. We played it at his memorial service. As a parent there's probably nothing worse that can happen to you than for you to lose a child. This song was Micah's gift to us. I can't listen to it without weeping openly. After his death, I had to be strong for my wife who was devastated when Micah passed away. Mom's are not equipped to outlive their children.

I used to put the CD of this song and several others that were his favorites on the CD player in the car and drive around and have myself a good cry and sing this song at the top of my lungs. I still do it, though nowadays it's with my mp3 player while I'm out on a good long walk away from people. It has a cleansing effect - kind of like scrubbing your soul. 
Here's Mercyme's "I Can Only Imagine."

I've got another one of Micah's songs for next week.  Stay tuned.

Tom King

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


This little man did as much to end Apartheid as some activist groups. It's a little known fact that neither the government of South Africa, nor the African National Congress, the UN and half a dozen anti-apartheid groups wanted Paul Simon to do the Graceland Tour.  But the naysayers needn't have worried. Simon's incredible musical collaboration with some of Africa's finest musicians did probably more to discredit apartheid and helped unite Africans across the continent than anything done by any two liberal advocacy groups or government agencies.

I love this amazing music. Paul Simon introduced some marvelous musicians to the world, not the least of which included the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekala, and Miriam Makeba. He really took a beating from anti-apartheid people and from the South African government. They were all wrong as was the cultural boycott that Simon was accused of violating. He was even accused of "exploiting African musicians."  The truth was, he paid the musicians triple and didn't take any money for himself.  Here was a case of good guys versus a good guy. How is it that people who put on the mantle of saviors of the downtrodden are so often selfish, power hungry, narrow-minded twits?

Here is "Homeless", a piece that showcases the talents of the inimitable Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who by the way started out as a church choir).

This clip includes commentary on the genesis of this particular song and the close relationship that developed between Simon and the African musicians during the tour.

And there's a lot more where that came from.

Tom King

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This World is Not My Home

Del even made an album with the boys. She later said she
knew what if felt like to be a leper afterward.
Today's song has a bit of a back story. The music is by Del Delker, longtime singer for HMS Richards Jr.'s Voice of Prophecy radio program, and the Wedgwood Folk Trio, an Adventist gospel group from the 60's. Elder Richards loved the boys of Wedgwood and took them along on some evangelistic meetings with VOP and they sang with Del Delker. Elder Richards felt that Wedgwood reached young people in a special way and good old Elder Richards was all about bringing as many people young and old as possible into the church to meet Jesus. IAMAonline described it this way:

Del and Wedgwood gather for a
reunion photo years after Del's fall
from grace for singing with them.
  • In 1966, H.M.S. Richards, Jr., heard Wedgwood perform and approached them about singing at evangelistic meetings he was holding in Texas on behalf of the Voice of Prophecy. Richards had a special interest in trying to connect with the young people of the church and saw the trio, with its music and informal comments between numbers as a way to reach that group.
    Their success in Texas led to another invitation from Richards to work with him at a second VOP evangelistic series in Hinsdale, Illinois. Richards noted their effectiveness in reaching young people and asked them to join with him and Del Delker that summer during their tours to camp meetings on behalf of the VOP. By the end of August 1967, travel with the VOP, combined with other appointments, totaled eighty thousand miles. It had been an exhausting, yet exhilarating eight months.
  • When summer ended, The Wedgwood Trio was nationally known in Adventist circles and hugely popular with young people. The reception accorded the group by older Adventists, however, was somewhat mixed. Conservative church members and ministers were convinced the trio constituted an endorsement for current popular music that would lead the youth away from, not into, the church.
  • The reaction was visceral, surfacing more than any other time during their travels with Richards and Delker that summer. After one introductory performance in an evening meeting at a Mid-western camp meeting, Richards was angrily confronted by the conference official in charge of music for the meetings. At the end of a discussion that continued into the early morning hours, Richards was told the trio would not be allowed to perform at the youth meetings the next day. 
  • This action, the most extreme that summer, was a blow to the trio as well as Delker and Richards. All during those travels they had to deal with objections over the music, the group's attire (matching double-breasted blue blazers with ties and gray slacks), Vollmer's naturally blond hair (thought to be bleached), and the "girls" who accompanied them (Hoyle's wife and Richards' wife and daughter).
    In spite of the criticisms, both Richards and Delker later talked about how they had personally enjoyed working with the trio and the positive impact it had had on the young people that summer during their travels in thirteen states and two provinces in Canada.
Here's the one of the horrible songs that caused all the trouble.

Appropriately enough one of the songs they performed was "This World is Not My Home". I would imagine that song came to mean something to Del and the boys.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Hukilau Song

Haoles at a Hukilau

Okay, I'm going to admit a secret here. I really dig Don Ho! I don't care if he's a Hawaiian lounge lizard or whatever his detractors may call him. I like his music. My daughter and I once sang a medley of Pearly Shells and Happy Trails (the Roy Rogers theme song) for a church banquet. Don's music is imminently singable and all you need in the way of an instrument is a ukelele. Don and Iz Kamakawiwo╩╗ole are two of my favorite island music singers. Ho sings a bit like Elvis did in his movie, Blue Hawaii. Or perhaps Elvis sang like Don Ho. It's kind of a chicken or the egg thing. 

For some reason I like the Hukilau song. Maybe I'm an island party animal at heart. Who knows? Here's Don with the Hukilau song.

 How many times can you sing "Huki!"  Don got in ten of them on that last line....