Cory Recommends: “Teapot Dome Blues” by Fletcher Henderson

When my Mom’s folks passed, I inherited a circa 1948 Zenith 880 radio cabinet. It sat in my parents’ basement for about a decade before I got my own place and could retrieve it. There is a whole saga about the storage of this cabinet and who said they wanted it or not, but that’s not why we are here.

So, it’s mine now and it works like a dream. I had to take it to two specialty shops to get it in running order, but no matter. It’s got a mismatched Voice of Music turntable attached, which was added to play LPs, but could also handle 78 rpm shellac. Since being unhindered by format is important to me, I went and bought some 78s at Vintage Music in Minneapolis. The first thing I picked up was an “album” of four Fletcher Henderson platters. I was looking for the tune “Sweet and Hot” (the only Henderson I had heard up to that point) which is what compelled the purchase, but ended up with the tune I’m recommending as well, which was a revelatory find for me.

Political scandal, especially the ones fueled by unchecked greed, are as old as politics and money themselves, but how many pop songs can you recall that name a scandal in their title?

Lucky for us Fletcher Henderson has our back.

Recorded in 1924 just as the breadth of the Harding administration’s corruption in the Teapot Dome Scandal (read about it here: https://www.britannica.com/event/Teapot-Dome-Scandal) was becoming known to the American public, the song has nothing to do with the affair other than its shared name. An instrumental jazz track that falls into the jazz style of a ‘stomp’, it’s light, quick, and perhaps a little quaint to the modern ear, calling to mind flappers and dance halls. It’s also catchy and hopping! Henderson was a jazz pioneer whose work was a cornerstone for what would become swing and the big band era once adopted by the likes of Benny Goodman.

Won’t you take a 3 minute trip back in time with me?

(Song recommendation by Cory Funk)

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