Saturday Single No. 65

Originally posted April 5, 2008

When I’ve talked about record collecting in these pages, I’ve made occasional references to “completists,” persons who have to have every recording that exists in whatever category they’ve chosen to focus on. It might be records produced in Muscle Shoals, or it might be records on which harmonica legend Toots Thielemans plays. Some are obvious: There are persons who spend a great deal of effort and money to find anything – bootleg, practice tape or standard release – that finds the Beatles playing. Some are less obvious: There is one blogger who is in the process of finding every recording he can of the song “Hitchcock Railway.”

I really didn’t mean to do it, you know.

(An aside: I find the term, “completist,” which I first saw in one of the Rolling Stone album guides, kind of funny. It always puts me in mind of similarly constructed terms for political crimes in a book or movie about a totalitarian state. The justice minister gets on the phone with one of his subministers for some information:

(“So what was it took place last night, Grover?”

(“Ah, yes, milord, we got one of ’em in Soho. Three others scarpered, but I fancy that the bloke we got, well, ’e’s the one we wanted most.”

(So who is he, Grover?”

(“We ’aven’t got ’is name yet, sir, but we know what ’e is. ’E’s a completist!”)

There are some categories in music in which I find myself moved to get everything there is. I have the entire original Capitol/Apple library of the Beatles on vinyl. I do not have all of the repackagings, like Rock & Roll Music and so on. I have every official release by Bob Dylan and/or The Band, some on vinyl, some on CD. The same holds true for Bruce Springsteen.

Those are pretty ordinary, if extensive. Others are a little more esoteric: I may be the only person with a complete collection of an obscure Seventies country-rockish group called Redwing. And I’m likely one of the few around who has a complete set of Patti Dahlstrom’s works. (I will be ripping and sharing another of those this week.)

And now, after writing about the song earlier this week, I’m grabbing copies where I can find them of “Hitchcock Railway.” I wrote Tuesday:

“It’s a song that’s had only a few versions recorded, with Cocker’s being probably the most well known (based on the listing at [All-Music Guide] of CDs available that include the song). Others listed as having recorded the song are an early Seventies duo called Anno Domini, Latin percussionist and bandleader Mongo Santamaria, José Feliciano, country/bluegrass singer Claire Lynch (as recently as 1997), and Dunn & McCashen themselves, on their Mobius album.”

I also mentioned that I had looked for the Feliciano and Claire Lynch versions online but could not find them. Within hours of my posting that, my friend caithiseach emailed me mp3s of those two versions. I did a little more digging and found the version by Anno Domini in a rip of the group’s single album at Time Has Told Me, a very good blog that posts obscurities.

I also discovered Clockwork, a group from Ohio, at another blog, Prog, Not Frog. Clockwork had included “Hitchcock Railway” on its only album, a self-titled effort from 1973, and there was a rip of the album at the blog.

I’d mentioned Tuesday that GEMM showed a listing for one 45 of “Hitchcock Railway” by Dunn & McCashen, the song’s writers. That 45 is now wending its way to Minnesota, as is another 45, one I found on Ebay, which was listed as by a group called Change. The odd thing about that one is that the b-side is listed as “Country Side Woman.” The album by Clockwork I mentioned above has as one of its nine tracks a song titled “Country Side Woman.” I’m waiting anxiously to find out if Clockwork and Change are the same group or not.

Collecting as many versions as I can of one song is not new to me, especially not when the collecting can be done at least partly online by means of mp3s. Some of the songs I have focused on or just collected a lot of versions of by accident include “Unchained Melody” (thirteen versions), “The Weight” (twenty-two versions), “Don’t Make Promises” (nine versions), “Across the Universe” (seven versions), “All Along The Watchtower” (fourteen versions), “Arms of Mary” (nine versions), the blues standard “Baby Please Don’t Go” (fourteen versions), “Got My Mojo Workin’” (fifteen versions, some with slightly different titles), the blues standard “Candy Man” (fourteen versions, with some also having slightly different titles), “Let It Be” (twelve versions), and so on.

And now, “Hitchcock Railway” joins that list. Why? I’m not sure, except that there’s something about the song that grabbed on to me the first time in heard it in 1972, and every time I hear it, that grip is there. And what else can I do but share some of the product of that grip?

That’s why “Hitchcock Railway” by Clockwork, a band from Alliance, Ohio, is this week’s Saturday Single.

Clockwork – “Hitchcock Railway” [1973]



One Response to “Saturday Single No. 65”

  1. Saturday Single No. 70 « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Railway/Country Side Woman” by Change, 1972. When I discussed “Hitchcock Railway” a few weeks ago, I wrote about Clockwork, an Ohio group that recorded “Hitchcock Railway” and put it on a […]

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