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Friday Influences Thread 05.01.09

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What has influenced you in the past ... or since the last FIT?




A few months ago I added George and Ira Gershwin's Nice Work If You Can Get It to my solo git/vox sets. The descending chord progression in the A sections is really effective and the melody is tops. I'm not sure if you could claim that lyrics are using double entendre, since it's fairly obvious what the "work" is -- though I can only imagine how this lyric would be written in today's anything goes climate.


The B section has the line, "Who could ask for anything more", which was also used in I Got Rhythm (published seven years prior to Nice Work). Perhaps an interesting lesson for songwriters? If you have a good line, use it again. This song first appeared in A Damsel In Distress with Fred Astaire and a screenplay by Wodehouse. I have yet to see it! Another great song from that musical is A Foggy Day (In London Town).


This version by Sinatra and Peggy Lee is a joy. It swings so deep and the two really have chemistry. Listen to the way Sinatra lays way back on the phrasing and how Peggy Lee follows. The ending has an endearing mistake.



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This may be the greatest American Pop orchestration I've ever heard.

It gives me chills every time I hear it.


There are so many things I notice here. For instance, the counter-melody is more important than the melody in this arrangement.




1. Listen to the string counterpoint on the 1st verse


2. It's replaced by swelling soft brass on the second stanza of that verse.


3. Listen to the male back up vx & winds and then female back-up vx

and winds coming after the first bridge.


"Lips that once were mine,

Tender eyes that shine,"


And then the winds descend deliriously and the strings do a rubber-band kind of thing

at the end of that descending woodwind phrase. I don't know how to describe it.


"they will light my way tonight,

I'll see you in my dreams,"


Maybe the strings are hitting a 7th or a diminished at the end of it.

It's haunting, whatever it is.


4. The trombone solo to string counterpoint


5. The eerie whistling at the beginning and end.


6. The archtop -- or is it a uke?


7. Everything about this is dreamlike and ethereal.


Isham Jones wrote the song in 1924. A lot of greats have recorded it,

Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Jerry Lee Lewis.


But this particular orchestration is an ideal to me.

It's beautiful. It's mysterious. It's dream-like.

It's intricate, and yet, it's austere,


Every part has its place and is distinct.


It's everything I want my own orchestrations to sound

like. But I'll never be that good. That's why I have a day job.


This orchestration is so great, that the singer almost doesn't

matter. I could hear Louis Armstrong, Merle Haggard,

Dean Martin, Sinatra, even Tom Waits singing on

this arrangement.

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I love this stuff above guys. Nice commentary, both of you. And to counteract that beautiful work above I've chosen Iggy. As I soaked up Bach, Miles, Gershwin, Deep Purple and Bob Dylan as a teen... equally important to me was the artistc mayhem and violence of Mr Pop. I've seen him at least 5 times. The first I saw him he walked out shirtless, wearing a black leather bikers cap, a purple suede miniskirt and black Beatle Boots... and he still looked cool. He came out, dove into the audience and started...



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Wow! That's a sublime TV duet Stack. I love it. I love the sound of the

music too. The vx are so up front. No perceptible fx. You can barely

hear the back-up band. But the singers are so good, who cares?


In Peggy Lee's voice, I can hear her singing a little off-key.

It was a stylistic flourish. It reminded me of Astrud Gilberto a decade

or so later, and Billie Holiday a decade before.


Peggy Lee was a really under-rated singer.


The one stack posted is almost the opposite of the one I posted.

On his, the vx are all that matters. The singers are so good.

The back-up orchestra doesn't even need to be there.


With mine, it's all orchestration. It's the singer who is interchangeable.

Like I said, Merle Haggard or Tom Waits could sing to that orchestration

and it would be just as mysterious. I could hear Peggy Lee's voice

in that orchestration. The singer just doesn't factor that much.


And I LOVE the sound of AM mono on old TV sets. It's magic.

That's why I fell in love with the sound of the old Kawai K-1 string

pad patch. That patch sounds like strings in mono on old TV sets.


I played bass in a psychobilly band in the 1980's. We covered that

Iggy Pop tune. Looking back now I can say, thank God for my day job.

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This may be the greatest American Pop orchestration I've ever heard.

It gives me chills every time I hear it.




Good call. I first heard this song when Joe Brown did it on his uke at the end of the "Concert for George". I was amazed at the sheer simplicity that could evoke such emotion. One of those tunes that brings tears to one's eyes.


I love the version you posted...thanks a bunch for sharing that.

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No more guess work. This is scientific, straight from my Rhapsody profile page, here are the apparent big three I've been listening to lately...


Dave van Ronk [audio only]


There isn't a lot on Dave Van Ronk, himself on YouTube, but jillions of YT folkie covers, which I think suggests how Van Ronk touches musicians. There was a folk festival vid I almost posted but I'd never heard this take on Mack the Knife. His vocals are... unique. Check out the contrast between his urgent delivery and his pretty, almost zither-like guitar. (Or is it actually a zither? Really, shades of the Third Man Theme... and like that movie and novel, the song has, as a central character, a grimly charming sociopath and killer. How can you go wrong?)



Tom Verlaine & Television


I was actually listening to more of Verlaine himself, but I stumbled on this from '78... Verlaine looks... so young.





Is this the second week running? Maybe Rhapsody was still counting the big slug of it I heard last week, but I listened to a good mix of stuff for an hour and a half the other day. Sometimes you just get in the mood for some Sparks. I'm not the biggest fan of their eurodisco phase but this video is hilarious, if you're a Sparks fan. I mean, it might strike you pretty funny, anyhow, in some tweaked way. But if you've got a grasp of their schtick (pun acknowledged but let's move on), this ought to crack you up. Check out young Ron's upper lip in his bittersweet flashback.



PS... that Sinatra/Peggy Lee bit was great! And it ties back into the Sparks song, just above:

So when do I get to sing "My Way"

When do I get to feel like Sinatra felt

When do I get to sing "My Way"

In heaven or hell

When do I get to do it my way

When do I get to feel like Sid Vicious felt

When do I get to sing "My Way"

In heaven or hell

-- Ron & Russel Mael, Sparks

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I forgot how much I laughed during "Do the Right Thing." 'Cause the ending kind of knocks the wind out of you.


Maybe because I'd been living in the 'hood* for about a year (and I am, as they say, white, though it's more a sickly pink, yo), it was familiar, funny, touching, and just a little scary.


It was also, looking back on it, a pretty good primer for the LA riots of '92.


I've never decided exactly what "the right thing" is/was in that movie and the by-the-end seemingly very real lives of the people in it, but I've always thought Lee did an amazing job of creating a very modern version of classic tragedy. (Right down to multiple, competing, roving 'greek choruses.')


He's capable of great film making.

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