Oh, for simpler times! President Eisenhower selected a playlist of some of his favorites on this LP, including a Verdi aria and overtures by Beethoven, Johannes Strauss and Mendelssohn. The album includes two American composers: Gershwin and Dmitri Tiomkin, who came to America in the 20s and lived much of his life in California. President Eisenhower’s notes (more than 140 words!) are the sort of thing we’d like to hear from political leaders today:

I Wish to salute musicians and the important part they play in the life of our people. American music has brought us pleasurable distinction at home and abroad.

Millions of Americans are engaged in the creation performance and active appreciation of music. Indeed it is a rare day when any one of us does not hear some form of music; it is hard to imagine our lives without it.

The enjoyment of music — speaking for myself, at least — has a moral and spiritual value which is unique and powerful. It reaches easily across lingual, racial and national boundaries. The development of American music, like the native development of any art, is therefore the development of a national treasure.

Next Friday we’ll be hosting an in-store performance by Land at Last, a folk blues duo featuring two of the finest guitar pickers in Minnesota, Jake Illika and Mike Munson. Their first disc together was released early this year, and you can hear it below.

Longtime readers of this here site are likely already familiar with Mr. Munson, whose music we have featured many times over the years. If you enjoyed what you’ve heard, you will also likely enjoy Jake Illika’s solo music, his duo with Joel Ward, and his band, The Heavy Set. You can hear all of these on his website here.

Minneapolis is known as a city of bicycling enthusiasts. We certainly love riding around this neighborhood ourselves — in fact, we have a sidecar bike on which our shop dog, Irene, often rides to work.

This 1961 B-side by Fats Domino is a pretty fun bicycle song. We like it better than the spooky version of “Bicycle Built for Two” from 2001: A Space Odyssey which we posted about last month.

In his own way Don Gillis brought the classical repertoire to millions of Americans. He was the producer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra during the long tenure of Arturo Toscanini, helping to broadcast hundreds of symphonic and operatic performances on radio and television (today you can buy an enormous, 85-disc box set of the complete recordings of Toscanini on RCA/Victor Records which including many with the NBC Symphony Orchestra).

After Toscanini retired in 1954 Gillis helped create the Symphony of the Air, which continued to broadcast orchestral music under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Gillis was also an active composer when not busy with the office work of managing the Orchestra — He wrote ten symhonies (including the light-hearted Symphony No. 5 1/2 “A Symphony for Fun”), several concertos and quartets, and tone poems such as a celebration of the town where he grew up, Fort Worth, Texas (Portrait of a Frontier Town).

The Man Who Invented Music was written by Don Gillis for the U.S. Steel NBC Summer Symphony Series in 1949. It was debuted by Antal Dorati that August. Gillis conducted this recording himself, and it was narrated by Jack Kilty, a minor television star on, you guessed it, NBC.

the man who invented msic

Last night the Minnesota Orchestra began its annual Sommerfest with a live performance of the 2009 Star Trek score. Once again, they’ve invited your friendly neighborhood record store to provide some entertainment for the mezzanine. Once again there will be listening stations in Orchestra Hall and this year we’ve selected some albums connected to each night’s musical program. Also throughout the lobby are giant versions of popular games like chess, Connect Four and Scrabble.

You can check out the whole calendar for the Orchestra’s Sommerfest program on their website here. And when you visit Orchestra Hall between now and the first week of August you can take a rest and listen to albums like Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space during the intermission.

Sonny Bono said he wrote “Laugh at Me” after being refused service at Montoni’s Restaurant in Hollywood because of his hippy attire. The owner later claimed he called Bono a “clown.” It was the first of only two solo singles by Sonny, and in his spoken introduction he says, “I never thought I’d cut a record by myself but I’ve got somethin’ I want to say.”

Mott the Hoople covered the song on their first album several years later. It provided a perfect vehicle for Ian Hunter’s Dylanesque delivery and the band’s early glam styling.

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