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DOT 1016; NOVEMBER 1950



There’s not much reason for us to examine a record that was put to wax three whole years earlier just as rock ‘n’ roll itself was getting off the ground, especially when the artist himself was hardly a committed rocker even later under the best of circumstances… yet here we are anyway.

Surely if we’re bemoaning the length of time it’s taking us to get to the end of 1950 this was one side we could’ve jettisoned from the roll call without anybody minding – or noticing – its absence.

But Cecil Gant is no ordinary figure in rock’s ongoing story. A musical vagabond in every way, the dominant theme of his career is the fact he was such a transient figure and to show that we have to review things like this.

So not for the first time – and surely not the last – we ask your indulgence so we can take another look at somebody who never really had a place to call home.


It’s Been A Long, Long, Long Time
Admittedly there’s another reason why we gave this record it’s own showcase despite its questionable credentials and that’s because of the record label it’s being issued on.

Dot Records began a few months back, a company started when the owner began selling other companies records via mail after advertising on late night radio shows specializing in this kind of music and saw the demand for it was far greater than imagined.

They’d gotten off to a great start, scoring a hit with Margie Day’s racy Street Walkin’ Daddy right out of the gate and while the company would sully their reputation in the future by embracing the white pop cover craze that besmirched rock’s name in the mid-1950’s, it’s important to remember their rise was fueled by the black originators.

So in an effort to show the breadth of that initial goal we bring you Cryin’ To Myself by Cecil Gant. The fact that it was actually recorded for another company three years earlier but never released allows us to also show a side of the record business that was fairly common but not quite common enough for us to have done more than briefly mention it elsewhere before.

This then is an attempt to pull all three of these elements together in one concise review before moving on to more current offerings by artists with a far greater stake in the game.

Hot On Dot… Not On Dot
Though Cecil Gant was notorious for showing up, probably unannounced, at a record company’s doorstep looking for handouts, the one label who always left the light on for him was Bullet Records in Nashville.

In fact Jim Bulleit, their owner, said that all of Gant’s records for them made money… although considering Gant was paid only a couple bucks in cash for each spontaneous composition on the studio floor so he could buy another bottle of cheap booze, you have to figure that Bulleit hardly had to dole out much moolah to get a song like Cryin’ To Myself.

In 1949 Bulleit sold his share of the label to his partner C.V. Hitchcock who saw the backlog of Gant material still taking up space on their shelves and since he had no real affinity for either the songs or the artist like his former partner had he undoubtedly figured it’d be more lucrative to sell some of that unused stock to another local startup label like Dot when they needed material in their early days.

So Dot was able to release Cecil Gant records without ever meeting Cecil Gant. One listen to this tells you they probably overpaid for that privilege.

My Baby’s Left Me
It’s not that this is BAD per say, it’s actually pretty typical Gant material, singing a slow meandering song in a distinctive vocal croak with minimal accompaniment – his own piano, a drummer and just the faint rumor of a bassist.

Like so many other artists he’s distraught over his girlfriend leaving him and feels the need to unburden himself to us with the details. But it’s not the skimpy regurgitated story that forms the most interesting part of the record at all… it’s what he did while waiting for the inspiration for another line to come to him.

As always Gant improvised songs in real time, playing whatever came to mind and making up the song as he went. But with few new lyrics for what seemed like a tired old story on Cryin’ To Myself he had to let his fingers fill the blanks on piano which made the entire record sound more suspenseful simply by playing dramatic parts to act as a bridge between lines.

Leaning heavily on his left hand he inadvertently manages to give the record a much greater presence, a vaguely ominous feel that works well with the basic story sketch and makes the consequences of what he’s singing sound more a lot more meaningful.

It’s all an illusion of course… the second interlude comes after just one word, as he was still trying to figure out WHY he was crying, but he makes it seem as if the pause in his vocal delivery was due to him being overwrought with emotion rather than unprepared.

As slight of hand tricks go this is pretty effective because rarely do we get a chance to hear a rock artist in a recital type of performance. Usually the intros are well-conceived beforehand while the piano solos in the middle of records are designed to be frantic and exciting. This is just somebody sitting at the keyboards and coming up with something to reasonably impress you without having a firm destination in mind.

When he somehow arrives at a destination all the same you realize you only went around the block once, saw nothing new along the way but at least it was a fairly pleasant ride, surely nothing to really complain about… unless of course you paid 79 cents for the trip, which was the going rate of a single in 1950, then you might take issue with him.


Got Somebody Else
By the time this record was finally released chances are Cecil Gant had no recollection of ever recording it.

But that’s okay because in a few months time Dot Records would have little reason to recall ever releasing it either once their Margie Day follow-ups hit the streets and then hit the charts soon after.

Yet in the fall of 1950 the company needed something to sell… something to convince distributors to take up their line of product and Cecil Gant remained a recognizable enough name that it surely helped their cause.

In that way Cryin’ To Myself served a few purposes. It gave Dot Records a better chance of success before anyone really knew who they were… it gave Bullet Records a few more dollars to spend on their newer artists… just as they had once given Cecil Gant a couple of bucks to get drunk with for cutting this in the first place.

So maybe all three of them, Dot, Bullet and Gant himself, wouldn’t complain about the return on their investment. Just like maybe today the readers of this review won’t raise too much of a fuss over the time it took to tell you all of this.

If you are bothered by it, well… you should’ve realized you what were in for as soon as you saw the name Cecil Gant staring out at you, for this casual approach to making music is at the heart of his story.

But don’t worry, that story will come to a premature end before you know it and then it’s even possible you might even miss these predictable sidetracks he’s been taking us on all these years.

Then again, maybe not.


(Visit the Artist page of Cecil Gant for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)