Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Music: The Boswell Sisters

The Boswell Sisters. "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (Rene/Rene/Muse). Clip from a Fleischer film by the same name.



I don't have much to say on this one. I spent the early afternoon putting together a comp of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, and somehow ended up listening to the Boswell Sisters. I couldn't find a link to the entire cartoon this video is from. You can see a touch of the always-recognizeable early Fleischer look as cartoon versions of the sisters run to the bench. Reportedly, Eddie Lang is the guitarist. Some of the runs definitely sound like his touch.

The Boswell sisters represent the aspect of the 20s and 30s that I like the most: oftentimes songs had genres but bands and musicians didn't. You were just as likely to hear minstrelry from a group of female white pop singers as Broadway showtunes from a poor black harmonica player. The brilliant and surprising arrangements, the tight harmonies, and the astonishingly talented sidemen (like Lang) are just cherries on the top. Unfortunately, being of that time period was also the group's undoing: aside from Connee's solo work, the sisters mostly stopped performing once they married.

For more information on the sisters, check out Bozzies.com. Including a few poorly recorded but educational podcasts on musicological aspects of the Sisters' sound. A few other YouTube treats:
  • A version of their frequent opener, "Heebie Jeebies."

  • A humorous short film with the sisters, "Close Farm-ony."

  • A cover of "Crazy People" by the Ditty Bops (and the end of another tune, and a little intermission).

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