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DIANA KRALL (ahead of her new album)

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio just played 'Dream a Little Dream of Me' – Diana Krall, with Hank Jones in 2009. About a year before the virtuoso pianist died in New York City, age 91. Friends say Mr. Jones played beautifully right to the very end.

I love that Canada's “other greatest gift to jazz” (after Oscar) asked to record this one 'alone together' with one of the great piano accompanists: Hearing this for the first time today on channel 71 satellite radio – and loving the piano solo on the musical bridge -- I thought, 'That's NOT Diana: I KNOW that unique style on keyboard! 40 years ago in Bermuda, where I spent the 70s, I saw Hank in concert, accompanying Canada's vibraphone virtuoso Peter Appleyard (who left us at age 85 in 2013). Yes, no one else sounded like this.

Born “Henry Jones” on July 31, 1918 in Vicksburg Mississippi, Hank was revered as a jazz composer and brilliant accompanist working with the greats including Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson and – finally – at her request, Diana Krall on this song. [In an online bio we learn]

“That year (2009) Diana Krall also sang "Dream a Little Dream of Me" with piano accompaniment by pianist Hank Jones. Her album 'Quiet Nights' was released on March 31, 2009. Krall produced Barbra Streisand's album 'Love Is the Answer' released on September 29, 2009.”
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Mr. Blackburn (call me Mark ?) . . . thank you for pointing me to this series of videos by Mr. McCartney (call me Sir ?) . . . I didn't know this existed, and it's an amazing get together of some very

BARBARA MORRISON - Don't Go to Strangers

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"The best time in human history to be alive"

That's what I keep telling my grandkids (eight of 'em) usually citing an example that is right there in front of us, "this very minute."  Each day. it seems, brings yet another one worth noting! 
I was searching YouTube a moment ago for a song "Siriusly Sinatra" satellite radio was just playing and the 'commercial' that popped up ahead of it, this one. The “Skip ad” key got skipped as I listened and watched the hands of a gifted, if anonymous, pianist performing a version of MY FOOLISH HEART (2:11) that, to my ears, blends the best of Bill Evans and Dave Grusin. 

Titled “Upper Structure Fridays Season 2 Demo (My Foolish Heart w/quartals) Piano Course Volume 2.” Really, doesn't this “commercial” brighten your day and bring peace to not so foolish hearts?
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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JACK JONES – Someone to Watch Over Me

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing my new favorite version of what many consider the greatest love song of them all -- the Gershwin brothers' very best ballad. In my mind's ear, I'm hearing a violin I'd like to imagine is a Stradivarius. I picture the moment when Jack Jones says to his arranger (Pat Williams?)

“Listen. Why not this? the entire first chorus, including the opening verse as well as the bridge, played by your 'first violinist' – solo on his Strad. Piano intro of course, and then . . . an extended piano vamp before I sing. Yes, a full minute and a half, at least before the vocal. What do you say?”

And everyone including the violinist thinks it's inspired! Which it was.

The gorgeous orchestration sounds like a Pat Williams chart. Wish I knew the name of the masterful fiddler. Help, Wise Men!
Andrew T -- one of the wise men at Sinatra Family --  just responded with the name of the arranger -- Fred Hersch. "One of my favorite obscure jazz pianists," I replied. Wikipedia has expanded his entry since the last time I checked: FRED HERSCH (born October 21, 1955) is an American jazz pianist and educator. He has performed solo and led his own groups, including the Pocket Orchestra consisting of piano, trumpet, voice, and percussion. He was the first person to play week-long engagements as a solo pianist at the Village Vanguard in New York City. He has recorded more than 70 of his jazz compositions. Hersch has been nominated for several Grammy Awards, and, as of December 2014, had been on the Jazz Studies faculty of the New England Conservatory since 1980 (with breaks).[1]
Hersch was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, of Jewish parents. He began playing the piano at the age of four (under the tutelage of Jeanne Kirstein) and started composing music by eight. He won national piano competitions starting at the age of ten.
Hersch first became interested in jazz while at Grinnell College in Iowa. He dropped out of school and started playing jazz in Cincinnati. He continued his studies at the New England Conservatory, attracting attention from the press – "a fine showcase for Fred Hersch" – in a college recital.[2] On graduation, he became a jazz piano instructor at the college.[3]
One of Fred Hersch's earliest professional engagements was with Art Farmer in Los Angeles in 1978. Jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote that he "showed his ability as an accompanist and soloist at the out-of-tune piano".[4] He played with Farmer again in 1981.[5] In 1982, the album A Work of Art (Art Farmer Quartet, Concord Jazz CJ-179), was released, with Hersch on piano. It included two original compositions by Hersch. Leonard Feather gave it 3½ stars.[6]
Hersch has collaborated with a variety of instrumentalists and vocalists in the worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz and Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming,[29] Dawn Upshaw, Joshua Bell,[30] Christopher O'Riley, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg);[31] and Broadway (Audra McDonald). Hersch has accompanied jazz vocalists such as Nancy King, Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling.
Hersch has taught at The New School and Manhattan School of Music, and conducted a Professional Training Workshop for Young Musicians at The Weill Institute at Carnegie Hall in 2008.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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DEAN MARTIN - Canadian Sunset

Years before Norman Gimbel was writing best-selling song lyrics like “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” he had a No. 2 hit with a tune by jazz pianist Eddie Heywood – CANADIAN SUNSET. I was nine years old that summer (July '56) and remember Mr. Heywood's instrumental version dominating the airwaves and feeling so proud as a Canadian that it was a hit song (No. 1 in Canada).

At this moment on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio Dean Martin's 1959 version is playing.  Love the timbre of Dean Martin's voice as he sings these beloved words:

“A weekend in Canada – a change of scene – was the most I bargained for. And then I discovered you, and found in your eyes, a love I couldn't ignore.”

Mr. Gimbel -- the best lyricist you may never have heard-of – left us two years ago, age 91. He has a most impressive Wiki entry, opening with this:

Norman Gimbel (November 16, 1927 – December 19, 2018) was an American lyricist of popular songs, television and movie themes. He wrote the lyrics for songs including "Killing Me Softly with His Song", "Ready to Take a Chance Again" (both with composer Charles Fox) and "Canadian Sunset". He also wrote English-language lyrics for many international hits, including "Sway", "Summer Samba", "The Girl from Ipanema", "How Insensitive", "Drinking-Water", "Meditation", "I Will Wait for You" and "Watch What Happens". Of the movie themes he co-wrote, five were nominated for Academy Awards and/or Golden Globe Awards, including "It Goes Like It Goes", from the film Norma Rae, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for 1979, beating out "Rainbow Connection". Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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STEVE TYRELL -- What a Little Moonlight Can Do

At this moment Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing my all time favorite version of WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO. Perhaps my favorite recording by Steve Tyrell, featuring the late, great Clark Terry on muted trumpet singing scat – plus jazz piano giant Joe Sample 'channeling' Dr. John -- New Orleans style funky.

"Ooh, what a little moonlight can do: wait a while till a little moonbeam comes peepin' through.
You'll get bored – you can't resist her --- and all you'll say after you've kissed her is
'Ooh, ooh, ooh, what a little moonlight can do!'

This most watched version at YouTube features loving words of introduction by Steve himself in February 2015 when Clark Terry left us, age 94. Steve wrote:

“CT is one of the finest and most talented men I've ever known. He touched so many lives and everyone he touched, and who had the honor to know him, were blessed in a way they will carry with them forever. I was honored to have recorded 15 songs with Clark over my first 2 albums. This is one of my favorites!”

Yours too?

Concerning the song, Wiki recalls its composer Harry (Try a Little Tenderness) Woods in a short but informed entry:

"What a Little Moonlight Can Do" is a popular song written by Harry M. Woods in 1934.[1] In 1934, Woods moved to London for three years where he worked for the British film studio Gaumont British, contributing material to several films, one of which was Road House (1934). The song was sung in the film by Violet Lorraine and included an introductory verse,[2] not heard in the version later recorded by Billie Holiday in 1935.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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MERLE TRAVIS - Re-Enlistment Blues

“Those are some mighty rare nuggets,” says Nancy Sinatra after her delightful 'all blues' opening segment of “NFF Week of August 30/2020”

2. Ad Lib Blues (FS & Louis Armstrong)
3. Birth Of The Blues (FS & Louis Armstrong)
4. Lonesome Man Blues (FS in Hollywood)
5. Basin Street Blues (FS – Radio)


Followed by Nancy's note about the theme song of 'From Here to Eternity' – a movie for which Frank Sinatra won his 'Best Supporting Actor' Academy Award – “a song not heard in the film,” says Nancy. “My father recorded it with Nelson Riddle and it became one of his biggest-selling singles of the 1950s.” Adding that “The film also featured an instrumental theme – Re-Enlistment Blues, played here by Buddy Morrow.”

As a guitarist, I cherish the barracks scene in the movie – the moment when Merle Travis (Chet Atkins' mentor on finger-style guitar) sings and plays (a song written by a trio of unknowns) with an artless brilliance. Merle composed some giant hits including Tennessee Ernie Ford's “16 Tons” but there on the silver screen at that moment in history, no one but coal miners and guitarists from Kentucky would recognize him.

My hitch was up Monday
Not a dog soljer nor more
(soljer no more.)
They give me all that money
So much my pockets is sore
(Pockets is sore.)
More dough than I can use
Re-Enlistment Blues

Comments from kindred souls include these:

Clyde (8 years ago)
Great movie, but nothing can pull my attention away from that guitar work by Merle Travis in his prime - one of the greatest guitar men of all time. He played the part of Pvt. Sal Anderson. I wish less of his work had been lost on the cutting table; it's value today would be right up there with the movie itself.

Ranger Jim (9 years ago)
I'm an old solder who initially enlisted in '61, and I can honestly say - from personal experience - that this movie and "Soldier in the Rain" are the two best movie ever made about GIs in barracks between wars...
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Every now and then (like right this minute) Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio plays a “new favorite version” of a song by Mel Torme. Mel was at his best before a live audience in a cabaret setting -- 'alone together' with a great pianist, most frequently, 'England's greatest gift to jazz' George Shearing. They did a bunch of albums together including the one that produced this version -- “An Elegant Evening.”

Another brilliant Harold Arlen tune, with a simple yet perfect lyric by Johnny Mercer. (note below). Frank Sinatra loved Mercer but (correct me if I'm wrong) never got around to recording this poignant song. Ella did a great version with a string arrangement by Billy May. And it's always been one of Tony's favorites. But yes, this one's my new favorite version, yours too?

“Cafe Songbook” (a website celebrating the Great American Songbook) reminds us of why this song is a perennial favorite of jazz singers:

The song "This Time the Dream's on Me" was written in 1941, for the movie Blues in the Night, released by Warner Brothers, Nov. 15, 1941, directed by Anatole Litvak, and written by Edwin Gilbert and Robert Rossen.

Most musicals whether on stage or film include, by tradition, at least one ballad. Even though Blues in the Night is more of a dramatic film with songs rather than a musical per se, it follows this tradition. "This Time the Dream's on Me" is integrated into the plot, a story about a small time jazz band on the road, by being a "romantic, lightly swinging ballad written for the band and vocalist" to perform during their gigs.

The screenwriters construct their plot around two elements: 1) the theme of jazz musicians being devoted to real jazz "instead of the commercial stuff purveyed by musicians devoted to money," and 2) the romantic interweavings among members of the jazz band and their hangers-on.
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What's New? - Louis Armstrong meets Oscar Peterson (1957)

As if to say, “Favorite voice and piano (solo) recordings? Bet you say the same about this!” Siriusly Sinatra is playing Louis Armstrong – alone together with Oscar Peterson – on a song otherwise 'owned' now and forever by Sinatra. But hearing this superb duet – two giants of jazz having their way with this most poignant of ballads, I'm tempted to say, to coin a phrase: “my favorite version.” From their 1957 black vinyl LP. Really, it never got better than this, you may agree?
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FRANK SINATRA JR – You'll Never Know

The mind-reader at YouTube just sent a Frank Sinatra Jr recording my way -- as if to say, “Is this still your favorite of his recordings? (and your favorite of his albums?”). Oh yes.

His expanded Wikipedia entry includes two wonderful quotes attesting to Frank Jr's stand-on-his own musical brilliance:

Starting in 1988, at his father's request, Sinatra placed his career on hold in order to act as his father's musical director and conductor.[13] Poet/vocalist Rod McKuen said:

As the senior Sinatra outlived one by one all of his conductors and nearly every arranger, and began to grow frail himself, his son knew he needed someone that he trusted near him. [Frank Jr.] was also savvy enough to know that performing was everything to his dad and the longer he kept that connection with his audience, the longer he would stay vital and alive.[14]


Sinatra said that his famous name had opened some doors, but "a famous father means that in order to prove yourself, you have to work three times harder than the guy off the street."[27]

Music critic Richard Ginell wrote of a 2003 concert by Sinatra:

Sinatra Jr. might have had an easier time establishing himself had he gone into real estate, but his show made me awfully glad he decided music was his calling. There aren't too many singers around with Sinatra's depth of experience in big band music, or his knowledge of the classic American songbook. There are even fewer with such real feeling for the lyrics of a song, and such a knack for investing a song with style and personality.[28]
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Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing MOON RIVER – my all-time favorite version from James Taylor's “American Standard” (2020). An obvious favorite of Channel 71's 'programmer extraordinaire' Jersey Lou Simon, who hosts Town Hall shows with a select list of great singers who have celebrated Sinatra – like Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, and Mrs. Garth Brooks. Trisha Yearwood recorded an all-Sinatra tribute album two years ago, at the fabled Capitol Tower in Hollywood – with a 50-piece orchestra -- while seated next to the same 'Neumann' mic used by Frank and Nat for all their great recordings. Yes, praying that Jersey Lou's next Town Hall features our favorite living singer/songwriter performing songs like this

I have a reverie of the next Grammy Awards show and James Taylor singing this one 'live': One of two consecutive Oscar winners from Johnny Mercer and Hank Mancini. A worthy entry in the category of Grammy otherwise owned by James' friend Tony Bennett. As with all great art, each time I hear this version, with John Pizzarelli's two-guitar arrangement, I spot something I didn't catch before. You too?
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If I'd stopped to listen, closed my mouth and opened my eyes . . .

What a coincidence! I awoke today thinking of a line from a James Taylor song: “Never mind feeling sorry for yourself.” Lo and behold, Mr. Taylor's Facebook page shares a version of that song LONESOME ROAD that I never heard before today! From 11 years ago – an 'a capella' performance “with the Tanglewood Festival Choir ” – the sheer beauty of unaccompanied human voices (well-trained, 23 in all, including James' wife Kim) with the best-engineered (most mics) “live” version we could ever hope to hear.

Surely the most hymn-like of James Taylor's compositions, (co-authored by pianist Don Grolnick) it reminds some of us of a key moment in a '12-step program' – before acceptance of what's holding you back, spiritually. “Never mind feeling sorry for yourself, it doesn't save you from . . . ”

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CAT CONNER – Come On Strong

Definition of “Come on Strong”
1. behave aggressively or assertively, especially in making sexual advances to someone.
2. improve one's position considerably.
"he came on strong toward the end of the round"

Just Googled "Who wrote COME ON STRONG?" Can't find a trace of this witty song to find out who else recorded it. But can't imagine a better reading than the one by Cat Conner played this hour on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio. Double entendre risqué lyrics Cole Porter would have loved -- especially the reference to himself!

Don't just merely thrill me, make me feel so right that it's wrong.
I wanna take leave of my senses – whatever the consequences.
Don't just love me – make it like a Cole Porter song.
Bring a guitar to strum on, and if you're gonna come on,
come on strong!

Cat with the usual all-star backup including a bass virtuoso who recorded with both Frank and Frankie, Chuck Berghofer and Joe Labarbera who played drums with jazz piano giant Bill Evans. Led by pianist Tom Ranier -- a go-to studio musician whose Wiki entry features a credits-list few could rival:

Thomas John Ranier (born July 13, 1949) is an American instrumentalist who primarily plays piano but also saxophone and clarinet. As a jazz artist he has recorded widely under his own name and as a sideman for Warner Bros., Concord Records and several other labels.[1][2] He has been prominent in the film, television, and music recording industry since the 1970s.
He has played keyboards, woodwinds and writing music for a long list of assignments, including Grammy, Academy Award, Emmy, and Golden Globe winning media and soundtracks for artists such as Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, Michael Feinstein, Christina Aguilera, Joe Pass, Plácido Domingo, Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, and many others.[1] As a pianist and jazz artist, "(his) personal approach mixes aspects of Bud Powell's complexity, Oscar Peterson's ardent swing and Bill Evans' exploratory harmonies."[3] 
p.s. COME ON STRONG -- Note from Cat Conner:  

COME ON STRONG -- composed by Frank Sinatra's personal team of songwriters!

[I should have recognized the words of my all-time favorite humorous/romantic lyricist! Cat Conner just replied]

"I love this Mark Blackburn! Thanks for posting and delving into the meaning of those sexy lyrics! It was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen."
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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STEVE TYRELL - Them There Eyes

At this moment Siriusly Sinatra is playing Steve Tyrell's take on "Them There Eyes" -- best version of the happiest sort of love song. Especially pleasing to us guitarists, featuring as it does sparkling solo work on a vintage Gibson archtop electric by my "all time favorite studio musician" Bob Mann.

"They sparkle, they bubble, they're gonna get you in a whole lotta trouble!"

Talk about starting your day with a smile. Thank you, Jersey Lou.

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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A FOGGY DAY -- Paris '62

Another reminder of why The Paris Concert was our favorite singer's best “live with sextet” recording. Listening to it, this moment on Channel 71, and thinking Sinatra must have known the recording engineering for this one would be “best ever.” You can see the smile in his voice as he introduces the Gershwins' best song about the weather in London:

“A song about my favorite city . . . Helsinki!” Moments later, concerning the lost charms of “the British museum . . . ” Frank interrupts himself to point to someone, with a spot-on James Cagney impersonation: “You dirty rat, you!”

First version offered at YouTube this day (2 thumbs up and zero comments) includes an informed note about the six jazz giants in the band:

Frank Sinatra - Vocals.... Bill Miller - Piano.... Al Viola - Guitar.... Ralph Peña - Bass... Irv Cottler - Drums.... Emil Richards - Vibraphone.... Harry Klee - Alto Saxophone, Flute...
Recorded June 5, 1962, Live in Paris....
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Calabria on channel 71 this day

My other favorite version of THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL is playing on Siriusly Sinatra this morning – by my favorite living vocalist Calabria Foti. Actually in my mind's ear I can never hear this song without thinking of my Mom, when I was 17 (a very good year) and she sang, from memory the lyric, minus the opening verse – which Calabria and very few others think to include.

“Many girls, with lofty aims, strive for lofty goals. Others play at smaller games – being simpler souls. I am of the latter brand – for all I want to do, is to find a plot of land -- I want to live there, with you.”

Yet to be posted at YouTube from her most recent (2019) CD “Prelude to a Kiss” – Track 9 – orchestrated by one of my favorite living arrangers, Jeremy Lubbock with a piano solo by another great arranger, Roger Kellaway.

Is it at YouTube. Never it seems. But a search took me to a promo video (4 minutes) featuring an interview with composer/arranger Jorge Calandrelli (Tony Bennett's most prolific accompanist; he's arranged eleven of Tony's latter-day recordings) around the 1:30 mark. With snippets of songs on this “Prelude to a Kiss” album, it is a delight to the ears.

[most recent comment below video concerning the musicianship here]

Glenn Green (1 month ago)

As a humble talented trombonist of over 50 yrs, my heart is soaring with so much love towards this collaboration between Bob McChensney and Calabria Foti and their carefully chosen composers on the CD Prelude to a Kiss. It brings tears to my eyes that such unbelievable music can still be recorded in this day and age. Calabria has an absolutely amazing voice with such beautiful control of her intonation, creative interpretation of melody and perfect control of her vibrato. Bob McChesney has been blessed with the total control of his instrument, along with an incredible ability to create amazing never heard before improvisations on standard melodies. God Bless every person involved in this production. It sounds like it was... Blessed. Create another CD...please.

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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What'll I do - NANCY SINATRA

At this moment Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing the most delightful version of WHAT'LL I DO -- one of the first hits composed (words & music) by Irving Berlin 97 years ago.

Nancy's rendition is special -- opening with solo guitar accompaniment by (someone good) and Nancy was inspired to sing the first three words in 'proper English' -- "What will I do . . . "

I know I don't have this album; I would have remembered the arresting cover photo.

Most recent comment from a kindred soul:

Thermal Reboot
2 weeks ago
This is by far my favorite rendition of this song. It was played many, many times on my parents stereo system back in the 60's and 70's.
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Siriusly Sinatra right this minute is playing back-to-back versions of The Bergmans' most poignant song – composed with France's greatest-ever gift to melody, Michel Legrand: WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

A special show with comments from the Bergmans themselves, who first play the original recording by Barbra Streisand. Then we hear Alan Bergman's gentle chuckle, quoting Sinatra telling him and Marilyn in 1969: “'I'm not following that Broad!' But then he did!” says Bergman, “About ten years later, he got around to recording it!”

Let's link to both versions as they were just played on Channel 71, 'Ladies first.'


My favorite photo of Frank Sinatra for this next “best sound” official version: The gorgeous orchestration from guitarist/arranger Don Costa, was surely one of his best:

[Love this poetic song lyric -- especially the words of the bridge]

I want to see your face in every kind of light
In fields of gold and forests of the night
And when you stand before the candles on a cake
Oh, let me be the one to hear the silent wish you make!

The short Wiki entry for the song now includes a “background” anecdote that wasn't there before (last time I looked):

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" is a song with lyrics written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and original music written by Michel Legrand for the 1969 film The Happy Ending. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".


Alan Bergman would recall that after Michel Legrand had written eight melodies which were somehow not viable for the film, Marilyn Bergman suggested the opening line "What are you doing the rest of your life?", and Legrand then completed the song's melody based on that phrase.[2] Marilyn Bergman would later comment on the double meaning of the phrase "What are you doing the rest of your life?" within its parent film: as the romantic theme song's title the question overtly references the marriage proposal Mary Spencer (played by Jean Simmons) received and accepted sixteen years earlier but, as Mary's present-day angst becomes apparent, "What are you doing the rest of your life?" is recast as a question Mary must ask herself.[3]
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With a Little Help From My Friends - JAMES TAYLOR, age 22

James Taylor's Facebook page just shared with fans a "video from the vault restored from BBC footage." Left a note of appreciation a moment ago.

Deepest thanks for sharing this gem! May I say, that the achievement here – apart from James Taylor, then as now, making a Beatles song so distinctively his own you'd swear he wrote it! – the technical achievement is staggering: A color TV video taped 50 years ago should not look anywhere near as good as this. How was it achieved? Did James, as a condition of his participation on a BBC special, stipulate that he wanted the original video tape? Did an English friend who worked at BBC keep that original recording perfectly preserved without anyone ever playing it in the intervening years? That's my educated guess (from a career in television studios in Canada and Bermuda). Really, I defy anyone to find some other 50 year old musical video of 'equivalent perfection' anywhere on YouTube.

Ah yes, and the song, from The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album of 1967 got its most famous cover by Joe Cocker just two years before this James Taylor rendition. The Wiki entry keeps expanding to include interesting 'history':

The Beatles began recording the song on 29 March 1967, the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper album cover. They recorded 10 takes of the song, wrapping up sessions at 5:45 in the morning.[8] The backing track consisted of Starr on drums, McCartney playing piano, Harrison playing lead guitar and Lennon beating a cowbell. At dawn, Starr trudged up the stairs to head home – but the other Beatles cajoled him into doing his lead vocal then and there, standing around the microphone for moral support.[4] The following day they added tambourine, backing vocals, bass and more electric guitar. [Producer George Martin played Hammond organ.]

Lennon and McCartney had finished writing this song in mid-March 1967,[ ] specifically as Starr's track for the album. McCartney said: "It was pretty much co-written, John and I doing a work song for Ringo, a little craft job." In 1970 Lennon stated: "Paul had the line about 'a little help from my friends.' He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea.", but in 1980 Lennon said: "This is Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light / I can't tell you, but I know it's mine...' is mine."[4] It was briefly called "Bad Finger Boogie" (later the inspiration for the band name Badfinger),[5] supposedly because Lennon composed the melody on a piano using his middle finger after having hurt his forefinger.
Lennon and McCartney deliberately wrote a tune with a limited range – except for the last note, which McCartney worked closely with Starr to achieve.
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SINATRA – and Billy May's “finest hour”

I'd just been thinking of Sinatra's most versatile arranger, Billy May – and my favorite of his latter-day orchestrations for MY SHINING HOUR. Lo and behold! “On this date in Sinatra History” (from Nancy's online book “Frank Sinatra, an American Legend.”

SEPTEMBER 17–19, 1979: More recording sessions for the Trilogy [Past, Present, Future] collection, this time at Western Recorders in L.A. The songs: "The Song Is You," "But Not for Me," "Street of Dreams," "More Than You Know," "New York, New York," and "My Shining Hour." [ ] Sinatra, Billy May, a 12-voice choir, and a 55-piece orchestra are making a record of "My Shining Hour." [ ] 'I can't believe we never got to this one—I've been wanting to do it for 35 years,' says Sinatra.

The brief Wikipedia entry for this one includes a reference to a speech by Britain's wartime prime minister whose closing crescendo I can still recite even now, from memory imperfect:

If we succeed, then the whole world will move intro broad, sunlit uplands. But . . . if we fail, then the whole world, including all that we have known and loved and cared-for, will sink into the abyss of a new 'dark age' – made more sinister, and more protracted, through the light of perverted science. Therefore, let us brace ourselves, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and her Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, THIS was their finest hour!

"My Shining Hour" is a song composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer for the film The Sky's the Limit (1943). In the film, the song is sung by Sally Sweetland, who dubbed it for actress Joan Leslie. The orchestra was led by Freddie Slack.[1] "My Shining Hour" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song but lost to "You'll Never Know".[2]
The film was released on July 13, 1943.[3] The song became a hit by Glen Gray with Eugenie Baird as vocalist reaching No. 4 in the Billboard charts. [4] The song's title may have been a reference to Winston Churchill's speech to British citizens during World War II: "if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, this was their finest hour."[1]
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Best versions of MISS OTIS REGRETS -- by great female singers

"Miss Otis Regrets" is a song about the lynching of a society woman after she murders her unfaithful lover.[1] It was composed by Cole Porter in 1934, and first performed by Douglas Byng in Hi Diddle Diddle,[2] a revue that opened on October 3, 1934, at London's Savoy Theatre.

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio just played Calabria Foti's recent rendition of this slightly obscure Cole Porter song. After channel 71 played (just for me, I like to think) Calabria's take (which is never at Youtube) I went straight to my other all-time favorite -- from 64 years ago: Ella – alone together with her career-long pianist, Paul Smith. Isn't this lovely?

Had to Google (again) for this lesser-known song, which has its own ever-expanding Wikipedia entry – more interesting anecdotes every time I check! Including the latest one (below).

May I say again, I love Calabria Foti's rendition from her recent all-Cole Porter album 'In The Still Of The Night' every bit as much as Ella's from her “Cole Porter Songbook” album of 1956. Both remind us that this really is a 'girl song' (though originally introduced in a musical revue by a male singer). Yes, in my own mind's eye, I picture an elderly female housekeeper opening the front door to a visitor, and uttering these memorable 'words of regret.'

As I type this, Siriusly Sinatra is playing Ella's retire-the-trophy version of Porter's LOVE FOR SALE. As Mom used to say, What a coincidence! (not).

Latest Wiki anecdote: Truman Capote, in his article published in the November 1975 issue of Esquire Magazine, relates a story Porter told him. Porter used "Miss Otis" as a punchline in the 1950s, opening the door to dismiss a presumptuous man from his home. Porter handed him a check as he said "Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today. Now get out."[4]
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Andy Williams – SO NICE (SUMMER SAMBA)

It was a hit back in 1967 (a very good year) that I so loved hearing on radio (“Turn it up!”). "Car radio" – back when that meant 'low-def' monaural AM, remember? Even the finest cars had just one small speaker. 'Two-speaker stereo'? In your car? At home, yes, with a large FM receiver. But how would you ever fit such a thing in your car? Pardon the aside. I'm 73 you understand.

Yes – SO NICE (SUMMER SAMBA) – an instantly-memorable melody (gorgeous chord changes) and a gentle, whimsical lyric. A song that 'don't get 'round much anymore.'

Andy Williams' version, playing right now on Sirius radio channel 71 is hard to top: A great jazz orchestra arrangement. Perhaps my favorite version since Astrud Gilberto's. And yet another great lyric from Norm (Girl from Ipanema) Gimbel – to a tune by his friend Marcos Valle. Gentle words that caress the ear:

If one day I'd find someone to take my hand and samba through life with me
Someone to cling with me, stay with me – right or wrong
Someone to sing to me some little samba song . . .
Should it be, you and me? I could see, that would be . . . so nice!

Official version, uploaded to YouTube 3 years ago.

Andy Williams left us eight years ago this month, age 85. His Wiki entry is among the most impressive for any popular singer:
Howard Andrew Williams (December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012) was an American singer. He recorded 43 albums in his career, of which 15 have been gold-certified[1] and 3 platinum-certified.[2] He was also nominated for six Grammy Awards. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a television variety show, from 1962 to 1971, and numerous TV specials. The Andy Williams Show won three Emmy awards. The Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, is named after the song for which he is best known—Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini's "Moon River". He sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including more than 10 million certified units in the United States.[3][4]

Williams was active in the music industry for over 70 years until his death in 2012.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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A favorite actor, Michael Lonsdale, died today, age 89. Full name, according to Wikipedia: "Michael Edward Lonsdale-Crouch" (sometimes billed as Michel Lonsdale) was a British-French actor who appeared in over 180 films and television shows.[4] He is best known in the English-speaking world for his roles as the villain Hugo Drax in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker,[5] the detective Claude Lebel in The Day of the Jackal, and M. Dupont d'Ivry in The Remains of the Day. 

Early life and education
Lonsdale was born in Paris, the son of English Army officer Edward Lonsdale-Crouch and his half-French, half-Irish wife Simone Béraud,[6][1] and brought up initially on the island of Guernsey,[7] then in London in 1935, and later, during World War II, in Casablanca, Morocco.[8]

He returned to Paris to study painting in 1947, but was drawn into the world of acting instead, first appearing on stage at the age of 24.[8][9]

Lonsdale was bilingual and appeared in both English and French language productions.

On 25 February 2011, he won a César Award, as a Best Supporting Actor in Of Gods and Men.[4]

Lonsdale was also the author of ten books.[4]

Lonsdale died on 21 September 2020, aged 89 in Paris.[10][4]


My favorite of his roles was just a 'bit part' -- no more than five minutes onscreen -- as the father figure "Papa" in Steven Spielberg's MUNICH (2005). Its director/producer Steven Spielberg said Michael Lonsdale "dominates" each scene he is in. He states this simple truth (in this YouTube video segment titled "The International Cast") that "Michael Lonsdale didn't have a lot of screen time, but he dominates the movie, when he is in the picture."

At the 8:43 mark of this (12:41 long) feature:  


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My favorite WHERE OR WHEN -- Peggy Lee

Thinking today about "practice" (makes perfect) – and how great musicians and athletes lose their taste for it (nine hours a day when you are 26 and at the peak of your powers). And New York's timeless musical joke: Man in the street, a tourist asking directions of someone carrying a musical instrument case: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice, man. Practice.”

Coincidentally (or not) I'd just been reading an “All Music” review of “Peggy Lee – Complete Recordings 1941-1947” when my all-time favorite female singer recorded dozens of tunes with Benny Goodman. [Reviewer, Bruce Eder wrote]

"Aside from an improvement in sound over 1993's Best of the Big Bands: Benny Goodman Featuring Peggy Lee, the real beauty here is in the material that wasn't on that earlier disc, most notably the small-group sides "Where or When" (perhaps the most beautiful rendition of that song ever cut."

Went in search of that gem at YouTube (see below) and checked “This Day in Frank Sinatra History” at Sinatra Family Forum. [Nancy recalled her father's words about the need to keep practicing your craft.]

“Benny Goodman,” Frank said, “thought only about the clarinet. A very bright and erudite man, sure, but his life was the clarinet.

“Once, many years ago, when we were at a Madison Square Garden Christmas benefit, I caught up with him off in a corner, quietly noodling on the licorice stick. Everybody else was sitting around having a sip of booze or something, and I walked over and said, "Every time I see you, Benny, you're practicing. Why do you do that so often?"

“He said, 'Purely because if tonight I'm not great, I'm at least good!'

“I never forgot that, because it's true. If you work hard at it, all the time, and you have a slow period – whether it's your own emotional problems or you're thinking, I don't feel like working as hard as I did last night -- you work and it's still never below the standard, still better than the other guy. ”

Peggy's rendition of Rodgers & Hart's WHERE OR WHEN, back when she was just 21. No clarinet solo on this one. (Benny knew when not to intrude on perfection?)

Among the uploads at YouTube this day, this one – with informed thoughts from kindred spirits:


phaasch3 years ago
Hell, this is almost unbearably intimate. It's as if her voice is coming from inside you, like thought.

HFritzson5 years ago
This may be the best interpretation of this great song that I have ever heard.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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