Often we think of Swing music as a window to Jazz Era history. It’s not often you think of it as referencing history from way before Jazz existed.
Yet the title (and opening verse) of Count Basie’s 1937 hit “Listen My Children And You Shall Hear“ has the same opening line as the 1860 poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which in turn was based on that iconic American Revolutionary War ride made in 1775. Whew.
What else can you learn from this song? How to Swing Out like a beast. Song features:
- the inspiring chops of singer Jimmy Rushing
- a jaw-dropping line up of musicians (one of the best ever assembled by Count Basie or many others)
- a solid, in the pocket sensation that makes me/you need to get up and dance
Who was Jimmy Rushing? You might know more about him than you thought, especially if you’re familiar with another Swing song entitled “Mr Five by Five” which is an entire song devoted only to describing Jimmy Rushing as a fat dude who was “five feet tall and five feet wide“. Amazingly, this wasn’t an exaggeration…
Not pictured: 18 cornish hens and 9 blueberry pies
Even more amazingly, that song was written (and a massive #1 R&B Billboard Hit) all while Jimmy was alive, and yet no-one was punched for it — in fact, Jimmy even sang it himself later.
Back to “Listen My Children…”
Some of the highlights of the musical crew here are Buck Clayton on trumpet (who later went on to have his own decent career after Basie), Lester Young on clarinet/tenors (even more so), Walter Page on bass, and Jo Jones on drums. Have you ever heard a modern Swing band that had a really great beat? You probably have Jo Jones to thank for influencing nearly every jazz drummer who came after him.
But most importantly, this song swing and it swings hard. More than that, it’s one of the more rarely played Count Basie tunes, so get the jump on it and check it out for yourself!