The Stories Behind the Songs:
Overview from May and June

A look into the musical topics and songs recently explored by Rob Lutes

By Byron Toben

July 12, 2022

One of my greatest pleasures in reviewing events has been watching Rob Lutes discuss, for the Cummings Centre, The Stories Behind the Songs. Mr. Lutes, himself a performer (and 2018 CFMA Contemporary Singer of the Year), proves himself an excellent researcher as he discusses the history of popular songs as they relate to their times.

I missed following his series during May and June 2022 but, for the record, did manage to secure a list of the themes and songs he discussed during that period. I have inserted a few clips of my own choosing as samples of some of the various sessions, not knowing which clips Rob Lutes may have used or sung excerpts of himself.

Rob Lutes is slated to return with more sessions of the Stories Behind the Songs in the autumn. I’m waiting with great anticipation!

His first session was Tin Pan Alley And Early Jazz. Songs included Maple Leaf Rag, Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Shine On Harvest Moon, Down by The Old Mill Stream, Sewanee, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Makin’ Whoopee, I’ll See You In My Dreams, Ain’t She Sweet and Lazybones.

The second session on More Tin Pan Alley featured Irving Berlin songs: What’ll I Do, Blue Skies, Russian Lullaby, Marie, Walking Stick, God Bless America and White Christmas.

The third session dealt with the Birth Of Jazz / Early Jazz with Salty Dog, Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home, Dr. Jazz, Sweet Georgia Brown, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing.

The fourth session devolved into Folk Music: Good Night Irene, This Land is Your Land, On Top of Old Smokey, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Tom Dooley, Puff the Magic Dragon, We Shall Overcome and Don’t Think Twice.

The closing session evolved into Country Music: T for Texas, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Happy Trails, Jambalaya, Smoke that Cigarette, 16 Tons and I’ve Been Everywhere.

Rob Lutes is slated to return with more sessions of the Stories Behind the Songs in the autumn. I’m waiting with great anticipation!

Feature image: Rob Lutes,

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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.
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