— by Kim Davenport
With thanks again to the Northwest Room librarians at Tacoma Public Library, I’m pleased to share audio of music by Joe Jordan from two 45-rpm albums that have been sitting in the library’s basement archives since the 1960s.
As I’ve previously shared here and here, Joe Jordan, a musician out of the ragtime era, chose Tacoma as his home towards the end of his life. Even as he made a career in real estate, he couldn’t seem to stay away from composing music, often seizing on opportunities to write short songs in honor of community organizations or events of civic importance.
Jordan also had an instinct for preserving his work for posterity, registering his compositions with ASCAP, the Library of Congress, and in this particular case, donating copies of the albums to the Tacoma Public Library. Although they were long since removed from the library’s circulating collection, the albums were protected from damage by being placed in storage, with their unscratched grooves ready for a digital transfer and sharing in the 21st century.
The first audio I will share is a song which Jordan wrote in honor of the City of Tacoma’s centennial celebrations in 1969, titled One Hundred Years of Progress. For this recording, Jordan called on the choir at Lincoln High School, with whom he’d collaborated several times since his arrival in Tacoma.
A few years prior, in 1963, Jordan decided that he could out-do the existing official state song of Washington, writing State of Washington, and recruiting local singer William McMenamin and the jazz combo of Tacoma legend Art Mineo to produce this recording:
Given that our official state song remains Washington, My Home, and the only other song seriously considered to take its place was Louie, Louie, I think Jordan may have been fighting an uphill battle here. But what can’t be denied is the composer’s enthusiasm for celebrating his chosen hometown of Tacoma – and the northwest in general – through music and lyrics.
Featured image courtesy of Tacoma Historical Society. Images in videos courtesy of Tacoma Public Library, Washington State Historical Society, and Tacoma Historical Society.
Further reading: Booster Songs for the City of Destiny