It’s the 14th of February, so of course this week I’m going to blog about …
You’re expecting that I’ll go all hearts and flowers, but that would be too predictable. Instead, I will take my inspiration from something I wrote the week of Valentine’s Day more than 30 years ago in The Sunny Side of the Street, the humor column I did in the Whitehall Times (and soon, any day now, to be available in book form): “Did you draw any cards … and did they turn up hearts.”
Or clubs? Or spades? Or diamonds? Here follows some musical suggestions for your Valentine’s cards:
You could draw all 52 (or 53?) right away, and play “The Deck of Cards,” the 1959 No. 71 recorded by future gameshow and “Teenage Dance Party” host Wink Martindale. Or Tex Ritter’s earlier C&W version, or the later cover by Whisperin’ Bill Anderson. But they’re all pretty somber and not Valentinish.
Face cards are tops, so instead you could start by cuing up “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain, “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Redbone, “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles, Ned Miller’s “From a Jack to a King,” “Jumpin' Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones and “King of the Road” by Roger Miller.
You could also play “Killer Queen” by Queen, and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. But I won’t; I generally detest Queen, and “Dancing Queen” is one of those songs that invades your brain and takes hours to purge.
While we’re in the face cards, you could also play the Faces, Small and the not-size-specific version. And, in descending no-trump (no, don’t go there!) order, music by the following artists: Ace (why were they one-hit wonders?), the Four Aces, Ace Cannon, the Amazing Rhythm Aces (“Third Rate Romance” is a classic) and ex-Dead Bob Weir’s solo album “Ace”; Ben E. King, Carole King, Claude King, Nat King Cole, King Curtis, King Floyd, the Kingsmen, King Harvest and the King of Rock and Roll.
Then there’s Queen (but note the advisory above) and Queen Latifah (if you’re into rap, which I’m not). And Jack Jones, Jack Bruce of Cream and Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady.
Or, if you’d rather play suits (but weren’t suits what we weren’t supposed to do, along with not trusting anyone over 30?), there’s western swing bandleader Spade Cooley, Heart, Neil Diamond and the Diamonds, the Mighty Diamonds, Derek & the Diamonds, the Blue Diamonds, Funky Diamonds, Lucy Diamonds, Kanary Diamonds and about 50 other bands with “Diamond” in their names.
Or songs about suits. (Not including “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.” Much less “A White Sport Coast and a Pink Crustacean.”) For instance, “This Diamond Ring,” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys; “Diamond Girl.” "Seals and Crofts”; “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” either by the Beatles or Elton John; “Young Hearts Run Free,” Candi Staton; and “Hearts of Stone,” the Fontane Sisters.
But, what if you’re playing one of those weird card games, like sheepshead, where lower-trump (definitely don’t go there!) cards win? Then play “Two Faces Have I, “ Lou Christie; “Torn Between Two Lovers,” Mary MacGregor; “Little Deuce Coupe” the Beach Boys; “Knock Three Times,” Tony Orlando and Dawn; Three Dog Night (pick ’em), “The Three Bells,” the Browns; “Three Stars,” Tommy Dee and Carol Kay; “Quarter to Three,” Gary U.S. Bonds; and “When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees.
Also, anything by the Four Lads, the Four Tops, the Dave Clark Five, We Five and the New Colony Six. And “Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat),” Paul Evans’ No. 100 in 1959; “Eight Days a Week,” by the Beatles; and “Ten Little Indians,” from the Beach Boys’ 1962 debut album.
But a royal flush tops them all, doesn’t it? So play the following, along with something by Ten Wheel Drive, which was fronted by Polish-born songbird Genya Ravan, who started the first all-girl rock band, Goldie and the Gingerbreads. In descending order of the suits in bridge (which I used to play a lot, instead of going to class, which didn’t turn out well):
“Ace of Spades,” Motörhead; “King of Spades,” the Country Gentlemen (or Dare?); “Queen of Spades” from Styx’s 1978 triple-platinum album “Pieces of Eight” (none of the singles from which ring a bell for me); and “Jack of Spades” by KRS-One (whoever the hell they are).
“Ace of Hearts,” Chris Rea; “King of Hearts,” songs of that name having been recorded by several artists, but better you should go with the album by the legendary Roy Orbison; “Queen of Hearts” by Juice Newton, but Dave Edmunds’ song would be a better option; and, of course,the amazing “Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” from Bob Dylan’s outstanding album, “Blood on the Tracks.”
There are several songs recorded by rap artists with the title “Ace of Diamonds,” but don’t waste your time.For all I know, the same applies to “King of Diamonds” by Motopony, a Tacoma, Wash., Indie/alternative band; and“Queen of Diamonds” by Chiodos, a “post-hardcore” (whatever the hell that is) band.
Better you should listen to the Eagles’ “Desperado” and its reference to the queen of diamonds. “Jack of Diamonds,” a traditional Texas gambling song popularized by influential blues artist Blind Lemon Jefferson, was performed by Waylon Jennings, Michael Martin Murphy, Connie Dover and others.
Last, or lowest, but not least, there’s the cast recording of Noel Coward’s musical “Ace of Clubs”; “King of Clubs,” a solo album by heavy metal/hard rock guitarist Paul Gilbert; “Queen of Clubs,” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band (but make sure your belt matches your shoes); and “Jack of Clubs,” an album by jazz drummer and composer Paul Motian, who played with pianist Keith Jarrett.
Whatever you listen to, I hope the cards you drew on Cupid’s annual turned up hearts. Cause mine did.