Virginia Canyon

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Her name sounds like a marvelous place to go hiking and indeed, there is a Virginia Canyon located north of Idaho Springs, CO. The songwriter Virginia Canyon, an associate of Dixieland jazz veteran Lee…
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Her name sounds like a marvelous place to go hiking and indeed, there is a Virginia Canyon located north of Idaho Springs, CO. The songwriter Virginia Canyon, an associate of Dixieland jazz veteran Lee Castle, seems to be most famous for only one song, and even that was taken away from her, literally. Had the tune retained its original title of "Virginia's Blues," it might have at least created some intrigue involving the female subject, as there are certain listeners who like to know who the "Emily" is in "See Emily Play" and so forth. "Virginia's Blues" was originally crafted by Canyon, Castle, and the latter bandleader's pianist Dick Cary, and was recorded during a series of three sessions for producer Jim Davis. This material was originally released on 10" Jay-Dee sides which are valuable collector's items, with an early-'80s reissue on Harlequin put on the grill for the non-collector rabble.

Castle may have been just as much mystified at the transformation of the song's title as disappointed. When contracts were signed at the 1955 sessions, "Virginia's Blues" became "Follow the White Line," a provocative title for an instrumental. Was this actually a song about driving, or a musical sobriety test? At any rate, the platters came out with "Mood in Blue" on the label instead, returning the song to its blues inspiration and at least vaguely matching the mood of the music. Castle was involved with the band of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey during this period, and sometimes turned out recordings that were not always that inspired. This piece, on the other hand and by any title, is not only original but beautifully executed. A clarinet solo by Peanuts Hucko is one high point, but it is the strange whistling by Bob Haggart that listeners will find hard to forget. The only thing that is not original is the title of "Mood in Blue." Here is a title that was probably being chiseled out by songwriters during the Stone Age. In the equivalent era of the recording industry, the Victor Salon Orchestra, a pseudonym for the usual gang of '20s studio players, recorded their own "Mood in Blue" for Victor. Jazz fans are more familiar with another "Mood in Blue," written and published by alto saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce, which was recorded by the Earl Bostic Orchestra for King, also in the mid-'50s.