The outlandish glory of Professor Longhair

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It’s funny how convoluted routes can lead one to the most glorious music.

Walking around Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently (as you do) I overheard the phrase “working for the Yankee Dollar” being sung over the PA system of a local attraction. I noted it to add to my streaming playlist when I got home. It turns out the song was “Rum and Coca Cola” being sung by the Andrews Sisters. It is a wonderful rendition and will forever, now, remind me of our glorious trip to Malaysia.

When you search a song on a certain streaming service, it brings up several versions of that song. Anyway, once the Andrews Sisters’ version of “Rum and Coca Cola” played, my ears were assaulted by the most outlandish cacophony. It was the version of “Rum and Coca Cola” by Professor Longhair.

Until that moment, I had not heard of Professor Longhair. It turns out he was a New Orleans Blues pianist and singer, who lived from 1918 to 1980.

Anyway, on closer listen, the great blues man’s version of “Rum and Coca Cola” is absolutely brilliant! Yes, it sounds a bit out of tune at first, but taken as a whole it is absolutely gorgeous. It was recorded live February 3 or 4, 1978 at Tipitina Club, New Orleans. Here it is on YouTube:

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