1941 in Music

This is a list of music reviews I’ve written about music that was released on premiered or was published in 1941.


1. Bernard Herrmann: Citizen Kane Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (10/10)

I had heard the suite from Citizen Kane but hearing what is likely most of the score (minus repeated themes, I guess) is a real treat. I think this was Herrmann’s first major film job, and he knocked it out of the park. Though I don’t remember thinking much of the music when I saw the film (a few times) many, many years ago, hearing it now I am blown away by its audacity, by Herrmann’s command of so many styles – the aria, for example, not something most film composers write – and, well, everything about it. This is one of the great Hollywood film scores of the ’40s – hell, it’s about as good as it gets before Bernstein, Herrmann himself and Mancini changed what was possible in the genre – and I’m sort of surprised it hasn’t been held up as a classic; I guess it’s dwarfed by the (real and imagined) importance of the film it accompanies.


2. Memphis Minnie: “In My Girlish Days” (9/10)

This feels to me like Minnie’s iconic song. I can’t necessarily put my finger on why, but it puts a new spin on old blues cliches.


3. Earl Hines’ Orchestra: “The Earl” (9/10)

Though this features about as prominent role for Hines’ piano as anything outside of “Harlem Lament” (it sounds like it was conceived the same way), it also features the fullest sound of the band yet. Maybe that’s the technology, or maybe his band got bigger (the liner notes are not reliable). A rather huge-sounding recording given how much of it is dedicated to Hines by himself. One of his best later recordings.


4. Memphis Minnie: “Can’t Afford to Lose My Man” (8/10)

Of all the Minnie tracks I’ve heard, this has some of the best sound, where you can really hear the playing of her and her husband. That doesn’t detract from her singing. This is a pretty typical blues of the period but it’s played quite well. And the sound makes it better.


5. Memphis Minnie: “My Cage is Going Up” (8/10)

This one’s a pretty good performance and the sound’s better than usual.


6. Memphis Minnie: “Moaning the Blues” (8/10)

A particularly standout intro to this track, it sounds better recorded than Minnie’s voice, which is a weird thing. Worth listening more to the guitar than for any other reason.


7. Memphis: “Please Set a Date” (8/10)

An early side with a drummer (early to my knowledge), this is Minnie in trio form and works pretty well. The playing is excellent as usual, the drummer adds something and Minnie is great as usual.


8. Memphis Minnie: “Killer Diller Blues” (7/10)

There’s a possibly a full band here:I hear a standup bass for sure, but can’t quite tell if that’s a drum set or just someone making noise – pretty sure it’s a drum set. The lead guitar playing is particularly good but the rest of the sound is muddy as the drums (I believe they’re drums) and the bass muddle together. Fortunately Minnie’s voice and the guitar are up front.


9. Memphis Minnie: “Me and My Chauffeur Blues” (7/10)

A spinoff (and role reversal) of “Good Morning, School Girl,” this one features impressive playing from Minnie and her typically powerful vocals.


Benny Carter and His Orchestra: “All of Me” (???/10)

Benny Carter and His Orchestra: “Boogie Woogie Sugar Blues” (???/10)

Benny Goodman and His Orchestra: “Solo Flight” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet: “Air Mail Special (Good Enough to Keep)” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet: “Breakfast Feud” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet: “On the Alamo” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet: “A Smo-o-o-oth One” (??/10)

Benny Goodman and His Sextet Featuring Count Basie: “I’ve Found a New Baby” (??/10)

Benny Goodman Sextet: “Gone with What Draft” (??/10)