I’ve Got Just About Everything (April 26th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

Bob Dorough, Arkansas native, agile pianist, crafty songwriter, wry and affecting singer, passed away at 94.

It’s weird. I’d just been thinking recently about him, wondering how he was doing. The world loves him mostly as the mastermind behind Schoolhouse Rock; legions of teachers, I assure you, envy the economical yet specific effectiveness with which he educated a generation about grammar, math, civics, and more. Some know he teamed, rather unaccountably but very successfully, with Miles Davis, particularly on a timeless Christmas original. Jazz buffs know him as, among other things, a bit of a Hoagy Carmichael 2.0, for “Baltimore Oriole,” “Johnny One-Note,” and “Devil May Care.” He’s famous with me personally for his witty and true “Love (Webster’s Dictionary Definition)” and his torch-carrying for the regular white guy vocal tradition begun by such humble and soulful folks as Tommy Duncan, Jack Teagarden, and Carmichael, and extended radically forward by Peter Stampfel and other eccentrics.

YouTube does not have Dorough well-covered, nor does Spotify. Do me and yourself and Bob’s memory a kindness and seek out the zingy, delightful Too Much Coffee Man, the rare and revelatory This is a Collection of Pop Art Songs (with the definitive “Love”), and the surprising early ’70s 45rpm EP Rainy Day Garden, under the 44th Portable Flower Factory moniker, featuring Dylan, Tempts, and Youngbloods covers.

Please honor his life and career by sampling this playlist. That is all.

Arkansas Adventure: Crystal Bridges (March 10th, 2018, Bentonville, AR)

Nicole, my parents and I took a trip down Highways 37 and 62 to Bentonville, Arkansas, where one of our very favorite museums lies tucked into a lovely wood: Crystal Bridges. I’ll let you click that link to read the story behind it, but suffice it to say it’s a perfect home for an impressive collection of American art, and it’s free. Yesterday, we explored a Frank Lloyd Wright Usorian home (I’d live in it; my parents and wife would not) and absorbed the bounty of Soul of America: Art in the Era of Black Power, which runs until April 23rd, if you’re interested. My favorite artists in the collection? Narrative quilt maker Faith Ringgold and collagist Romane Bearden. But those two names are just scratching the surface of those whose work are represented. The special program, which costs $10 (a steal, considering), even has a booklet one can hold onto; it provides patrons three expertly-selected music playlists that mirror the artists’ concerns.

Because we were preoccupied with art, NCAA basketball, a game of Five Crowns, and each other’s company, Music wasn’t much on the menu. But on the way back from Bentonville–when intermittent service allowed it–we enjoyed the greatest hits of Louis Jordan, Brinkley, Arkansas’ best-known citizen and bedrock innovator in rock and roll. When you listen to Jordan, you get a lot: rockin’ rhythm, a mischievous and observant lyrical eye, sly singing, sharp alto sax playing, and a seemingly bottomless well of classic tunes. And though black power aficionados might possibly view Louis is an Uncle Tom variant, I and many other folks would argue that he was one of the first performers to play songs that reflected black life, and pulled white listeners in. Plus, anyone sworn by such a range of luminaries as Sonny Rollins, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles must be taken seriously in cultural conversations. Here’s our favorite single-disc Jordan collection, and a great place to start:

If you like that, go here: