DEAR JERRY: My wife is a soloist and choir member at our church. Recently, she met a new choir member whose name is Denora.
My wife quickly told this woman that Harry Belafonte once popularized a song titled “Denora.”
Since this lady had never heard of such a song, we decided to check with some local music shops, hoping they would have the details to support my wife's assertion.
Unfortunately, none could come up with any recordings or documentation to support the claim.
Can you confirm the existence of a tune by Harry Belafonte titled “Denora”?
Mr. & Mrs. H.G. Tryner, Largo, Fla.
DEAR TRYNERS: Sorry, but there can be no confirmation of such a track by Harry Belafonte.
Not only is there nothing bearing that title, but the name Denora does not even appear in the lyrics of a Belafonte recording.
Still, there is reason to believe the wife did once hear a analogous song by Harry Belafonte at least one incorporating a name that rhymes with Denora.
Though this track's title is “Jump in the Line,” the lady doing all the jumping is named Senora, pronounced like the desert named Sonora and not the Spanish señora.
Senora's alluring gyrations are continually mentioned in the lyrics, as she is encouraged to perform (i.e., “shake, shake, shake Senora … jump in the line, rock your body in time”).
“Jump in the Line” is one of the spirited tracks on the million-selling “Jump Up Calypso” album (RCA Victor 2388), a 1961 issue.
DEAR JERRY: Every time I hear the Dixiebelles singing their big hit, “(Down at) Papa Joe's,” I think back to the 1950s, and another song.
Around the same time as “Young Love” and “Singing the Blues” we had a hit in this area with essentially the same piano melody as “(Down at) Papa Joe's,” but with completely different lyrics.
Unlike the Dixiebelles, a female group, the song from the '50s is by a male.
Can you identify this tune?
Harvey Syms, Chicago
DEAR HARVEY: Both “Young Love” and “Singing the Blues” remained on the charts for close to six months, which means dozens of other hits came and went during their stay.
But only one of these has a piano lead with the same melody heard on “(Down at) Papa Joe's.” It is Jim Lowe's Top 50 hit, “By You, By You, By You” (Dot 15525), a January 1957 release.
DEAR JERRY: Did the Drifters ever have a member named Osborne? This seems like a question you would know.
Paul Lucas, Harrow, England
DEAR PAUL: You may think I know this because I am an Osborne, but it is for an entirely reason I can answer convincingly.
The Drifters you hear on two decades of hits (1950s and '60s) do not include any Osbornes. In the early '70s, however, numerous groups performed in oldies shows calling themselves the Drifters, Coasters, Platters, etc., etc. Some included one or more original members, though many did not. A few even worked as one group one week and another group the next.
One such Drifters act appeared on a 1972 show I hosted, and one of their members was Kell Osborne.
For a unit that included no authentic Drifters, Kell and friends did an admirable job emulating recordings such as “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “Under the Boardwalk.”
In recent years, some of Kell Osborne's 1960s singles have become quite valuable in the Soul marketplace.
Here are just three examples: “Law Against a Heartbreaker (Highland 1182), $1,500; “Small Things” (New Bag 101), $900; and “Quicksand” (Titanic 5008), $750.
IZ ZAT SO? In “Jump in the Line,” frisky Senora does plenty of shaking. A year later (1962), like most everyone else on earth, Senora turned to twisting at least in “Twist, Twist Senora,” a Top 10 hit for Gary U.S. Bonds.
Clearly inspired by “Jump in the Line,” lines such as “twist, twist Senora” and “jump, jump Senora” replace “shake, shake, Senora.” Both tunes include the memorable, gravity-defying suggestion to “jump in the air, and come down in slow motion.”