Monday, December 13, 2010

Music Monday ~ Spike Jones

Anybody remember Spike Jones and his City Slickers? The band was guaranteed to raise a smile, sometimes even a laugh-out-loud back in the dark days of war in the 1940s, and far beyond, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tomorrow would have been Spike Jones' birthday. He was born on 14 December 1911 in Long Beach, California.

Spike Jones was "a man whose name was synonymous with laughter in America for more than a decade," Dr. Demento wrote in the forward to Jordan J. Young’s profile, Spike Jones and His City Slickers. In the 1940s Jones and his City Slickers band became known across America as an outlandish group of musicians whose musical parody recordings, stage shows, and radio broadcasts frequently featured such "instruments" as the washboard, the cowbell, the auto horn, and the toilet seat, accompanied by the rhythmic punctuation of hiccups, Bronx cheers, and the sounds of various live animals. (See here for more).

Very brief comment on his natal chart (set for 12 noon as I can find no time of birth recorded on line). Inventive ought to have been Spike's middle name! Uranus, planet of invention and eccentricity was in helpful sextile to his ebullient Sagittarius Sun as he was born. Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius was in the first degree of its own sign, adding weight to an innate love of excess and exaggeration, made zany and inventive with the aid of Uranus' aspect to natal Sun. I'd not be surprised to find that Uranus was close to Spike's ascendant degree or at midheaven.

On a more sombre note, Mars was on the Taurus degree of Fixed Star Algol, the star ancient astrologers looked on as the most unfortunate of all. Algol, when conjunct a personal planet can sometimes merely indicate a particularly passionate individual, but sometimes such a conjunction appears in the charts of those whose lives end in an unfortunate or untimely way. From Wikipedia: Spike Jones Jones was a lifelong smoker. He was once said to have gotten through the average workday on coffee and cigarettes. Smoking may have contributed to his developing emphysema. His already thin frame deteriorated, to the point where he used an oxygen tank offstage, and onstage he was confined to a seat behind his drum set. He died at the age of 53.

A couple of reminders:

Cocktails for Two

My favourite - Laura
(I always thought that the band was at its best with a well-known sentimental song, which they eventually send spinning in the opposite direction - into the realms of the ridiculous. The band members were excellent musicians and quite capable of playing "straight" as well as any of their contemporaries, by the way.)


Wisewebwoman said...

I never "got" him, T. I was actually a little repelled.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Oh! Hmmm. Well, I guess he was "a man for his time", rather than for the years and generations that followed.

I appreciate the silliness of it all - and especially the irreverence.

A little does go a long way though ! :-)

anyjazz said...

When I was about eight or nine years old, I saved up some money from odd jobs that I did to buy a ticket to see Spike Jones and his orchestra at the Memorial Hall in our town. I think it was two or three dollars. It was a marvelous show even though I had to sit behind a post in the balcony.

The next year I went again when the show returned.

It was a marvelous show, colorful and fun, musical and whimsical. The gang included Doodles Weaver and Red Ingle and Mickey Katz and so on. I could probably tell stories about all of them. There was no bad language and no innuendo. (Well, unless as innuendo, one wants to include a toilet seat strung with a rubber band, plucked during a frantic number. He called it a “guitarlet.”

The show was mostly parodies of other artists, all good natured mimics and fun. No harm was ever intended. It became a sort of honor to be parodied by Spike Jones. An artist knew he had made the big time if Spike Jones made fun of him.

His work included stage reviews, TV, movies and comedy, children’s and dance records. It was a considerable volume of work considering he only lived to 53.

Looking around today for something to laugh at, I really miss Spike Jones.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~Looking back - as much as we can, for we were only kids then, it was a far more innocent time, wasn't it? Fun was fun - just that. Spike Jones' music is rather like the "antiques" we see all the time in American antique/junk stores - a reminder of what it used to be like back then.

Looking around today for something to laugh at, I really miss Spike Jones.

LOL! Yes, and therefore it's a doubly good thing that I have laugh at! ;-)