Grady Tate, a hard-swinging drummer who would launch a second career as a vocalist later in life, was born on this day (January 14) in Durham, North Carolina, in 1932. Tate’s drumming was a guiding force in the development of soul-jazz, and his sideman credits include stints with leaders of the genre like Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery. As a vocalist, he became famous outside the jazz world for his contributions to the educational TV show Schoolhouse Rock.
“Sack Full of Dreams” comes from Tate’s leader debut Windmills of Your Mind, from 1968. Originally composed by vibraphone legend Gary McFarland, the song’s lyrics contrast a reality in which “Gray empty faces walk by/And hands try to hide all the loneliness” to a dream world with “Streets full of laughter and toy balloons/and people with hearts that care.” Even after 50 years, it’s a message that still bears repeating.