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August 22, 2007


Walter Brennan

...truly an endearingly warm voice has she - those early tapes are quite exquisite in places...

B Beard

Great column. One note though -- you state that Merigail was born in 1943, and that she died in 1990 at the age of 43...she would, of course, have been 47 (or 46, depending on her exact birth and death dates). Anyway, I'm not trying to be a jerk, exposing the single, largely irrelevant, flaw in your column -- just thought you'd like to know so it could be corrected. Anyway, I enjoyed the column -- thanks for bringing this music to light.

Bob Purse

Hey there,

Thanks for catching the error - you're not a jerk at all. I wish I'd caught it. Yes, the information that I have is that she died in 1990 at age 47. Must have been right after her birthday, as she died in early January of that year.


I really appreciate not only the mp3s but the story behind them, which is so well told. Thanks! I totally "heart" this website.


Wow! Thank you so much for all of these additional tracks. Her early version of "Reputation" is my favorite song from the first 365 Project. As a young girl, Merigail's voice and presence reminded me of an amazing, totally genuine hybrid of Judy Garland and Shirley Temple. I think she's wonderful!

I'm so excited to hear all of these other finds. Thanks a million for researching her and surfacing these treasures.

Bob Purse

Hi there, Allison (and anyone else who is reading),

There are a few other tracks, maybe four or five more, mostly consisting of further takes of "Reputation" as well as one of "Head Cheese", from 1953 and 1954, and if there is interest, I will put them up on my blog, or will send them as MP3 from my e-mail address, [email protected]

I only left them out of this posting to avoid too much Reputation Repetition.

I have also just received the promised (low-quality) tape of Merigail singing nightclub style material from around 1980, and may put a sample of that up at the blog, too, once I digitize that.

Please let me know if you're interested. I hope to have some of Don Moreland's material submitted for this project before too long, too, including the song "Backfire", referred to in my text.


Sammy Reed

Yes, PLEASE put up that later material from her!


I heard this song about a couple of years ago on the local college station in Pomona, CA (KSPC) and from the first few seconds, it was magic. However, it was a short car ride so I never got any information other than that I could probably safely assume the song was named "Reputation". As time passed on and the songs' rollicking incantations began to burrow ever deeper and lay eggs in my brain I had to hear it again, and I became very disappointed/frustrated when I couldn't track it down(was it a Folkways/Smithsonian thing? Strange radio jingle?). Long story short: You really made my month. Thank You so much! What an odd feeling of relief!

Jeff Jobson

Amazing recordings, indeed! Even more amazing that just the right person found them. Any idea how they ended up in the record sale in the first place, and why there was a five year gap between the acetate and the tapes? This also brings up the question: is Merigail Moreland the same person from the credits of "Terror At Halfday"?

Bob Purse

Hello again,

I've wondered about the Merigail Moreland who showed up as wardrober for "Monster a Go-Go" (same film you mentioned, different title), but haven't thought to ask the relative with whom I'm in touch. It seems unlikely that there were two people at the right age in the mid '60's with that very unusual name.

As to who the tapes belonged to, that seems to be a very long story, of which I don't have much of the answer. Here's more than you wanted to know (I get longwinded, can you tell?):

I used to call them the "Moreland tapes", but that was clearly incorrect - having learned who was in the Moreland family, I know that the children heard in the more "family" oriented moments on these tapes are not part of the Moreland family.

What I have are a series of tapes featuring a musical friendship, so to speak, starting in 1953, and ending when, in the early '70's (would you believe), some of the members of this group, by then working as electricians in the building of Chicago's Sears Tower, wrote and rehearsed a song about the Tower, which they were allowed to play, backed by a rock band, at the opening of the structure.

The latest of the group of tapes were three tapes dated 1973, and featuring endless rehearsals of this song. I had long assumed Don Moreland to have been one of these men, but subsequently learned he was never anything but a musician. And one of the men on the "Tallest Rock" tapes can be heard mentioning having written "Backfire", the flip side to the acetate of "Reputation".

Here's an article I just found, much more detailed than any of the others I've ever seen about that Sears Tower song:

It contains all the names of the men in the group, one of whom was undoubtably a friend of Don Moreland's, and perhaps the guitarist on "Reputation", as well as telling who wrote "Tallest Rock", and, presumably, "Back Fire", which I'll get into this project later.

My guess is that whoever recorded and owned these tapes, probably that same writer, died or was downsizing, back then, and his heirs or whoever, perhaps not knowing what they had, gave away all of his recorded material. I can't imagine doing that, or not instructing my heirs not to do that, but that's just me.

Hope I haven't gone on too long....



What an amazing voice! Thanks for posting this, it made my day. The 1953 version of "Reputation" is even greater with the later material: childish at times but with definite seeds of the mastery she displays on "Oo-Lee". When was that one recorded? You wrote about high school age but I have a hard time thinking a teenager could have such a rich voice.

Please post the material from 1980, I'm really interested in hearing what she sounded like later.

Too bad she died without the recognition she deserved. Thanks again for sharing this treasure.

Bob Purse

Hi, Frederic,

I share your amazement at Merigail's voice at age 16, less than two years after the second version of "Reputation". And yet, a couple of online discographies show the previous Cha Cha release, C-1407, by Ron Haydock, being released in January of 1960. It's a good bet that the next Cha Cha release came out within weeks, months at the most, later. She was either 16 or 17 when it was recorded!

I'll post again when I have the 1980's recordings up on my blog, but I do want to caution all reading that they are not, in my opinion, the equal of the best of these recordings, in large part due to the quality of the recording and the generic nature of the accompaniment.


Todd Frye

Is this the 'Reputation' sung by the girl and (presumably) her family members from the first 365 Days Project, wherein several versions were found and it was speculated that the song was an amateurish ongoing project? (Sorry, I'm working from memory here.)

Yeah, that was one of the more memorable entries from the first Project, to be sure. I always thought the girl's voice was genuinely sweet, and that the whole song conveyed a certain innocence and naivety that was evocative of the time in which it was written and recorded.

Anyway, overwhelming kudos to you guys for making both Projects available to the world at large. It's a hell of a worthy effort.

Bob Purse

For those of you who requested the rest of the Merigail material in my collection, it has all been posted to my blog, which should be listed from my name, either below or above. This includes a few other very early recordings, another take of "Head Cheese", several more passes at "Reputation", and a handful of tracks recorded by Merigail somewhere near Atlanta around 1980. Have a visit and a listen!


Sammy Reed

Thanks for putting the later stuff on your page!


nice to hear the songs from my aunt still being talked about. This and the article and music from my grandpa has brought back some good memories

as i listened to unchained melody the breeze came and sent chills through my spine. o, what could have been?

as i listened to unchained melody the breeze came and sent chills through my spine. o, what could have been?

James Shaw

In my times scoping and reading the 365 Days Project, I have always passed over listening to Merigail and Don's "Reputation" until today.

I am now a fan of the works of the Moreland family. And I agree with others, Merigail should have been a household name in the fifties. She had the voice and the talent. Imagine all the possibilities. The things that may have been.

It is record hounds like yourself Bob that preserve the audio of these great talents that are little known outsidetheir community. Thank you for this.

Maybe one day a recording company will release a greatest hits CD of the best songs and talent the general public have never heard of.


"as i listened to unchained melody the breeze came and sent chills through my spine. o, what could have been?"


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