Cover Art (SRV) by José Quintero
If curiosity killed the cat then The Audio Museum has more than 9 lives! We are digging ever deeper and looking in every nook and cranny, leaving no stone unturned for these Blues.
We are now in the Top 3 and I can feel a storm brewing. No matter what happens from here on out hold on tight because we are in the eye of the hurricane. The Guitar Hurricane as he was formerly known!
This song comes from the way way back. In 1953 a local blues musician and record producer from the San Francisco Bay Area wrote one of our favorites. This song, like so many others has been re-made by many different artists over the years. I am not going to cover all of them, I’m not sure if that’s even possible, but I am going to cover the main ones.
Robert (Bob) Geddins wrote it somewhere around 1952-1953. He came across a blues singer by the name of Jimmy Wilson, who also was a song writer, and began recording Wilson shortly after. The music he recorded with Wilson gained traction and eventually caught the eye Aladdin Records, who took an interest in much of Geddins’ work via Wilson’s singing. They purchased some of Wilson’s masters from Geddins. In 1953 Geddins wrote this amazing piece and now with Wilson on board his new record label Big Town “Tin Pan Alley” was The First release on his new label. Even though it was not a Wilson original it was such a huge success and quickly became synonymous with his name.
Tin Pan Alley was an actual place. It was located in New York where many music producers and song writers set up shop and began recording music.
The name originally referred to a specific place: West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flower District of Manhattan; a plaque (see below) on the sidewalk on 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth commemorates it.
The start of Tin Pan Alley is usually dated to about 1885, when a number of music publishers set up shop in the same district of Manhattan. The end of Tin Pan Alley is less clear cut. Some date it to the start of the Great Depression in the 1930’s when the phonograph, radio, and motion pictures supplanted sheet music as the driving force of American popular music, while others consider Tin Pan Alley to have continued into the 1950’s when earlier styles of American popular music were upstaged by the rise of rock & roll, which was centered on the Brill Building.
The origins of the name “Tin Pan Alley” are unclear. One account claims that it was a derogatory reference to the sound of many pianos (comparing them to the banging of tin pans). Others claim it arose from songwriters modifying their pianos to produce a more percussive sound. After many years, the term came to refer to the U.S. music industry in general.
It’s pretty cool finding out that Tin Pan Alley was a real place and had a heartbeat of it’s own. Ton’s of music came from there as well as many famous artists and musicians.
I first heard Tin Pan Alley from one of my all time favorites, The Guitar Hurricane himself Stevie Ray Vaughan. Needless to say once you hear this version your life is forever changed. The Blues has a way of making you happy and sad at the same time. The one thing that stands out most to me in this song is it’s timing. Very slow and beautiful like listening to the rain on a cold dark night.
Through the beautiful guitar work is the story of Tin Pan Alley and how bad things got after it had been there for so many years. Eventually the great musicians of that time moved on, then crime moved in. Over all it’s a wonderfully crafted song…the bluesier the better!
No. 3 Tin Pan Alley performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan – 1984 Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Tin Pan Alley
Below: One of, if not THE first picture of SRV with No.1.
Below: Albert King and Stevie
Craig Hopkins is the author of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: DAY BY DAY, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. As a matter of fact, he is the author of several books about SRV, and has been researching the man, his music, and his life for close to twenty years. Craig knows many stories about Stevie Ray.
“This is one of my favorite stories that drummer Chris Layton told me about when they were in the studio around 1988 recording In Step. Albert King just showed up and he asked Stevie if he could borrow some money. Stevie loaned him 3,000. About two or three weeks later, Stevie said, ‘Hey Albert, do you have that money?’ And Albert says, ‘What money is that?’ And Stevie says, ‘I leant you 3000 dollars.’ And Albert goes, ‘Ha ha ha now come on Stevie, you know you owe me.’ And of course Stevie did take a lot of his style from the great Albert King.” – Craig Hopkins
Below: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Hubert Sumlin, Austin TX (1978)
Jimmy Wilson Tin Pan Alley 1953
As always we appreciate your purchases of any music through our Amazon affiliate links below, it helps keep the lights on here. Also if I had to say what the best Stevie Ray Vaughan album or video was I would have to say get SRV Live at the El Macambo. Don’t miss it you’ll thank me later!