Now Willie, he’s your older brother, Shakira is quoted as saying in a 2011 article in the peer-reviewed journal African American Review. “He’s your older brother.” In the 20-year history of “Wee Willie Winkie,” the talking book, “Winkie” had been played by all four of the Buddy Hollyes, who inspired Eddy Arnold’s blues hits “The Same Old Thing” and “Song of Myself.” In 1966, when Harold Arlen took the stage, Willie and Dewey and Grace were decades away from being rock stars. Yet Arlen didn’t go soft on his beat-box melodies or confuse pop and the blues. He sang with a steadying gravitas and authenticity.

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