DEAR JERRY: People often ask your help identifying WHO recorded a tune they heard or remember, but I'm not one of those.
I heard a song on our oldies station with lyrics similar to Kitty Kallen's "I'm Beginning to See the Light." They didn't give the title but I knew I could find it because I heard them loud and clear say it was by Geraldine and the Leaders.
Or so I thought.
This became a whodunit when my searches found lots of Geraldines, especially ones who were so-called "leaders" in some way (Ferraro, Thompson, etc.), but no singers.
I know I heard right, so why can't I find any mention of it?
Marla Stratford, Pontiac, Mich.
DEAR MARLA: Believe me, you heard it perfectly.
Unfortunately there is a homophonic effect at play here, one you could not have imagined. There is no audible difference between Geraldine and Jeril Deane.
Only one of Jeril's recordings would remind you of "I'm Beginning to See the Light," and it is "I'm Getting the Message Alright" (Solo 106), a 1957 issue.
Both Jeril and Kitty (with Harry James' Orchestra) have finally caught on to the vicissitudes of love. Deane's vocal backing here is by the Leaders, but she also sang with the Drifters (not the R&B group) and the Choraleers.
Noteworthy too is that the Solo single is a split, meaning a different artist on each side. The B-side (Solo 107) is "You're Real," by Johnny Bradford.
Now if some unknowing seller lists only the Bradford side, you'll recognize it as the Geraldine, er, Jeril Deane (a.k.a., Gerri Garcia) track you're seeking.
Oddly enough, I think there is a good chance her name at birth really was Geraldine, which she shrunk to Gerri.
Continuing with the name game, in 1951 Gerri became known as Jette Satin, and teamed up with keyboardist Korla Pandit on three singles for Vita Records: "They Say (Tonight You Belong to Me)" (Vita 220), "Lover Come Back to Me" (Vita 228), and "You Belong to My Heart" (Vita 230).
Then there is Pandit, an African-American born in St. Louis as John Roland Redd. John used Juan Rolando as a professional name until he reinvented himself as Korla Pandit, an Indian born in New Delhi.
The transition included a fancy turban, tales of time spent as a Brahmin priest, and a newly revised life story.
DEAR JERRY: I love recordings that feature a saxophone, especially instrumentals, be they jazz, blues, or pop/rock.
Recently, a peer-to-peer contact sent me a batch of audio files that included one by a band called the Palindromes.
Whether it's a joke or not, he or someone before him, named the file "A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama," which is an actual palindrome. Without words how would one know.
Can you look into this? Are there any other Palindromes recordings? Based on this track, I sure hope so.
Luke Slater, Chicago
DEAR LUKE: The Palindromes could be a gathering of session players who got together just for this recording. You mention the terrific sax play, but the guitarists are also superb.
I know of no other recordings by the Palindromes; however, I am certain these musicians have made plenty of fine music over the years.
The band name and the palindromic title with the words Panama and canal all makes sense because it ties in with the last year's Panama Canal Centennial (1914-2014) events.
Surprisingly, "A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama" is a single-sided 45 rpm (Canal Records 013). No doubt the selection number represents 1913, when the essential work on the canal was completed.
One collector suggests, since this seems to be a U.S. pressing it may have been a souvenir gift for passengers on a Florida based cruise ship, though we have no confirmation of that.
All things considered, I suspect this recording was made long before 2014, and merely repurposed for the Canal Centennial.
And an excellent choice it was.
IZ ZAT SO? Surprisingly, there are two totally different songs titled "A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama."
Both Panama tunes, plus many other palindrome song titles are listed in alphabetical order by title, followed by the artist's name and year of issue.
Only one artist is named per song, though some were recorded by more than one person or group. Two listings of the same title means they are two completely different songs:
"A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama" (Fall of Troy) 2007
"A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama" (Palindromes) 2014
"Aha Aha" (Serk with She-Raw, Bass Sultan Hengzt, Panik45, & Godsilla) 2009
"Ana" (Pixies) 1990
"Anna" (Silvana Mangano) 1953
"Anna" (Beatles) 1962
Originally recorded by Arthur Alexander as "Anna (Go to Him)"
"Bob" (Weird Al Yankovic) 2003
"Eve" (Jim Capaldi) 1972
"Flee to Me, Remote Elf" (Badger King) 2003
"Hannah" (Johnny Duncan) 1962
"Hannah" (Ray LaMontagne) 2004
"Hannah Hannah" (Lionel Hampton) 1951
"If I Had a Hi-Fi" (William Bottin) 2004
"Laminated E.T. Animal" Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) (2011)
"Level" (Shootyz Groove) 1994
"Madam, I'm Adam" (Dan Crow) 2000
"Malayalam" (Rudresh Mahanthappa) 2004
"Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm" Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) (2011)
"Mom" (Earth, Wind & Fire) 1972
"No Lemon No Melon" (William Bottin) 2004
"Never Odd Or Even" (Shonlock) 2011
"Ouo" (Andrew Bird) 2009
"Party Trap" (William Bottin) (2004)
"Pop Pop Pop" (Youngbloodz) 1999
"Pull Up" (Mr. Vegas) 2004
"Racecar" (Addictions) 2007
"Radar" (Laurie Anderson) 1986
"Radar" (Morphine) 1995
"Rats Live on No Evil Star" (Ookla the Mok) 2009
"Rio Noir" (William Bottin) (2004)
"Rotator" (Stickleback) 2007
"Rotor" (Phasers) 2003
"SOS" (Abba) 1976 (Both title and artist are palindromes)
"Solos" (Yuri) 2008
"Somos" (Julio Iglesias) 1992
"Toot" (Chubby Checker) 1960
"UFO Tofu" (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones) 1996
"Wow" (Andre Gagnon) 1976
"Xanax" (Not Breathing) 1997
IZ ZAT SO? When Tom T. Hall wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." he could never have imagined what a cultural phenomenon he'd created.
Not only did Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 recording top both the pop and country charts in the U.S. and Canada the first time ever accomplished by a female but that one little phonograph record inspired a feature film (1978) AND a TV series (1981). That too had never happened before.