top of page
  • Writer's picturejim lenz


It's been a pretty uneventful week, hasn't it?


Well . . . I have a new favorite number.




But that's only temporary. I suspect my favorite number may grow larger in the future. In the meantime, it's time for








For reasons so shrouded in mystery they defy even my ability to understand them (and my ability to understand such things is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself), my mind is on ghostly apparitions this week. And what do all really great ghostly apparitions have in common?


They are spooky.


That's right! So naturally my mind turns to the Classics IV hit single of that name from 1968 (a very formative year in my life: the start of the transition from virginal high school student to battle-scarred veteran of the sexual revolution). This was originally recorded in 1967 as a saxophone solo by Mike Sharpe (actual name Mike Shapiro—yes, 1968 really was that long ago), who also co-wrote the song. You've probably never heard that version, The one you may have heard was recorded by the Classics IV the next year, and added a vocal track. The Classics IV was a rock quartet from Jacksonville, Florida that mostly did covers. Their biggest hits were "Stormy," "Spooky," and "Traces." (Obviously they weren't paid by the word.) Their style was often classified as "Blue-Eye Soul," since it definitely had a soul sound to it.


But I'm not going to play that version.


A couple years after "Spooky" was released, two members of the band—guitarist/songwriter J. R. Cobb and keyboardist Dean Daugherty—left the band to co-found the Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS), a southern rock band that was very popular and influential throughout the 1970s.They brought this song with them. Although they did not record it with ARS until 1979 (on their Underdog album), after that it remained a staple of their live concert performances. I know it's a 1960's-era pop song, but I've always liked it's bluesy feel.


From 1979 please enjoy the Atlanta Rhythm Section playing "Spooky."



Love that guitar solo!


So, where to next? Well, that song is sort of an oldie, in that it was popular during my misspent youth. But how about a song that was already an oldie during my misspent youth? At least it was an oldie by the time I was old enough to listen to music and decide for myself whether I liked it, seein' as how it was recorded the year before I was born.


This song has the distinction of having been chosen by the members of the Western Writers of America as the greatest western song of all time. I think that's pretty impressive, although admittedly it would be better if it had been chosen by the members of the Western Song Writers of America.


The song was written by film and TV actor Stan Jones, and the original recording of it was back in 1948 (released in 1949), but I played that recording about two and a half years ago. Instead, I'm going play a version by some of the greatest country musicians of all time.


Form 1990, please enjoy the Highwaymen singing "Ghost Riders in the Sky."



How do I top that?


Well, who says I have to? Everything in life doesn’t have to build to a crescendo, does it? Get a grip.


But I will stick to the theme. This is one from Sting, and in addition to it being within this week's theme, it's also another illustration of my own personal taxonomy of love songs.


For those of you who weren't paying attention, my original taxonomy divided all love songs into three categories: Supplication (Oh, please love me!), Celebration (Oh, you do love me!), and Lamentation (Oh, our love is over!). I later added a fourth, much smaller, category: Fumigation (Oh, I am so over you!), and then later still a fifth category: Denial (Oh no, I'm not in love! Not a chance. No way. Nope. Nothing to see here.)


This song by Sting definitely falls in the Denial category. Like most songs in the category, the denial rings false, and by the end the façade has crumbled. From his 1999 album Brand New Day, please enjoy Sting singing "Ghost Story."




Great song from a great album.



Now we come to the part of our show dedicated to a featured artists (or theme) of the month, and this month we're going to look at the work of an artist who died just last month after a long and distinguished music career: saxophonist David Sanborn. He was a terrific studio musician who regularly played with some of the greatest artists in jazz. His solo career was best know for smooth jazz, but that was by no means his only musical interest.


I remember back in the 2000s regularly listening to his syndicate radio program "The Jazz Show with David Sanborn," on WJJZ out of Philadelphia. I was living in the Lehigh Valley area then, right after my divorce, and I didn’t know a lot of local people yet, so WJJZ, its announcers, and its music were like a circle of friends and family. They kept me sane, which is one of the reasons I've always had a soft spot for Sanborn's music. That and the fact he was a kick-ass sax player.


You know, we've got a theme going here, and so I think we'll end the night where we started. Some of the things I like most about the ARS version of "Spooky" are the guitar solos. I've never understood how some folks can like electric guitar and not like the sax, since the riffs and solos are so similar. Case in point: David Sanborn's sax on this recording of "Spooky."


From his live performance at the 1998 Newport Jazz Festival, please enjoy David Sanborn playing "Spooky."


R.I.P. Dave.


Have a wonderful week, everyone, and I'll see you next time.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page