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Mark Blackburn

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As sweet and clear as 'moonlight through the pines'

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing my second-favorite version of GEORGIA ON MY MIND -- by Steve Tyrell. Ray Charles retired-the-trophy for what would become his home state's 'Official Song' but Steve's husky character voice seems perfect for this song, doesn't it? It helps to have a full orchestra playing a beautifully fresh and evocative orchestration (arranged by his guitarist my all-time favorite studio musician, Bob Mann). Love the opening three seconds – the refrain from “We Shall Overcome (Someday).” From his THIS GUY'S IN LOVE album. Perhaps my favorite recording by Steve Tyrell. Yours too?

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My favorite modern Gospel song -- by James Taylor

Once a year in January (close to Martin Luther King's birthday) I search YouTube for any new version of James Taylor's SHED A LITTLE LIGHT (Oh, Lord). Just to see if it still gives me goosebumps, and tears of Joy. Never fails.

James Taylor -- and a concert recording with a Charleston South Carolina choir “THE LOWCOUNTRY VOICES.” As you may know, any live performance (when the choir is this big, spread across the stage) the sound is less than ideal, compared to the original studio recording. Plus, you know they wouldn't have had that much time for rehearsal. But this is a great choir.

Imagine if you were there, that night five years ago in Columbia S.C. the effect on your soul. I mean, if it can so affect us “by the light of a TV screen”. A lesser composer than James Taylor might not have come up with the song's uplifting bridge – taking the melody in an entirely new direction, and (around 3:18) our hearts soar at the words,

“Can't get no light from a dollar bill . . . Don't give me no light from a TV screen . . . ”

Yes, like something from The Great American Songbook (as celebrated in his latest album American Standard) his best songs have great 'bridges.' And this remains one of Mr. Taylor's very best.


Every time I hear this great song, I think of my late Mom: She wrote a three-stanza poem (the best kind, right?) called “Ode to a Choir” (concluding with these words)

“Ah, Beauty's NOT a fleeting thing! It lifts the soul, and makes it sing – a choir of souls to lift in turn. Though memory fade, and senses jade, Beauty, SHARED, becomes Infinity.”
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"I've been HIT by the great Freddy Cole!"

"I was hummin' a tune, drinkin' in sunshine, when out of an orange-colored sky .... "

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio introduces us to lesser-known artists, such as Nat King Cole's kid brother, Freddy -- who in turn, does duets with terrific, up-and-coming artists like Deborah Silver.

Coincidentally (or not) the shuffle play miracle at YouTube, sent me a 1992 concert performance by Freddy's late niece Natalie – singing her Dad's hit ORANGE COLORED SKY. Natalie's version is still my favorite.

The next offering? Freddy Cole singing this one with Deborah Silver – whose timbre and vocal athleticism is remarkably like . . . Natalie!

One good link leads to another and a Facebook friend – and fellow fan of Steve Tyrell – sent me a video preview of this very recording – with Mr. Tyrell joking with Mr. Cole about the best approach to a fast part of the lyric. Links to both below; the studio recording is the second one, uploaded by Ms Silver (to 447 “views” and zero comments). A joyful duet, you may agree!


Edited by Mark Blackburn
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JAMES TAYLOR – Going Around One More Time

A guy song from 30 years ago that can still make us smile. This stanza especially:

Betty was a little heart-breaker. It didn't quite work out.
She did a number on my confidence, I was riddled with self-doubt.
I said, That's it – I'm through – I quit …. then Juanita! – she looked so fine.
And now I'm goin' round, goin' round …. one more time.


Sent my way a moment ago by the shuffle play miracle that is YouTube 2020. As if to say: “Remember when THIS was your “favorite James Taylor song that he DIDN'T write”? Yes, and which “he will never perform in concert.” Just too many other, more beautiful songs to squeeze into the concert playlist. So looking forward to his next visit here (when he will sing that old standard, April in Winnipeg).

GOING AROUND ONE MORE TIME is maybe the best song composed (words & music) by James' brother Livingston – someone else I always yearned to see 'live' in concert, but never did. To paraphrase a title from Rupert Holmes' best song: Ah, the people that you never get to see!

Yes, it's a guy song, but one that could bring a smile of recognition to any woman who recalls when she was young – and 'on the rebound' folks used to say.

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LIFE IS GOOD – Livingston Taylor

“Life is good when you're proud of what you do [and]
'giving-your-all' to others -- it all comes back to you”

I had a brother-in-law “Mitch” who never married (and died young, age 50) who loved this song, LIFE IS GOOD by Livingston Taylor. I put it on the tape player in his car (remember cassette decks?) and he asked me to buy him a copy. Mitch was a master mechanic who worked all his life on the 'big steel rail' diesel engines at CNR. Like his father before him. I think he pictured his own Dad when he listened to that 'father & son in the pickup truck' moment.

It is a sort-of 'cast-your-bread-upon-the-waters' song, without a trace of being preachy. The cassette got endless play on my own car's sound system; I always wanted to meet Livingston Taylor and try to put into words why I'm such a fan.

I'm a sucker for a funky Fender Strat playing 'chicken-clucking' rhythms, I and love those accents from a tight horn section. Which, come to think of it, might have been (mostly) synth-horns from a keyboard: you know, to keep down costs and allow a more 'economical replication' on stage.

Most important it is a song for those still hoping to find their own, 'one-and-only' love. Guess we all know someone like that, right?


His brother James harmonized beautifully on a couple of the tracks, including my other favorite on the album, CITY LIGHTS – about southern border migration (“Rosie crossed the Rio Grand”). And finally, I just love the album cover, for reasons I can't put into words. (Okay, the old dog has something to do with it: a Golden Retriever, right?)

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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STEVE LAWRENCE – I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face

At this moment Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing the best rendition I ever heard of I'VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE -- the one ballad we most wanted our favorite singer to have 'defined.' Frank recorded two other songs from My Fair Lady but not the 'show-stopper' love song Lerner & Loewe reserved for the end of their best Broadway show. And in the absence of a Sinatra version, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful reading than this one.

The orchestration is so beautiful. Wonder who arranged? A perfect display of the artless brilliance of Steve Lawrence's phrasing, and the vocal timbre is (almost) unsurpassed. As noted below, 'ACCUSTOMED' is one of James Taylor's life-long Broadway favorites (included as a 'bonus track' on the Target store CDs of his new 'American Standard' album). But this recording by Steve Lawrence is my new favorite version – yours too?


The 84-year-old Mr. Lawrence has an interesting Wikipedia entry:

Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Liebowitz; July 8, 1935) is an American singer and actor, best known as a member of a duo with his late wife Eydie Gormé, billed as "Steve and Eydie". The two first appeared together as regulars on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954 until Gormé's retirement in 2009 (Gormé subsequently died August 10, 2013) . . .

In the late 1950s, Steve Lawrence was drafted into the United States Army and served as the official vocal soloist with The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" in Washington, D.C.[4]

Lawrence had success on the record charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s with such hits as "Go Away Little Girl" (U.S. #1), "Pretty Blue Eyes" (U.S. #9), "Footsteps" (U.S. #7), "Portrait of My Love" (U.S. #9), and "Party Doll" (U.S. #5). "Go Away, Little Girl" sold over one million copies and was awarded a Gold record.[5] However, much of his musical career has centered on nightclubs and the musical stage. He is also an actor, appearing in guest roles on television shows in every decade since the 1950s . . .
The singer's “personal” section notes that Mr. Lawrence is (as of last June) battling Alzheimer's – and concludes with a reminder of Frank Sinatra's love and appreciation for Steve & Eydie:

Lawrence and Gormé married on December 29, 1957, at the El Rancho Hotel[2] in Las Vegas, Nevada.[1] They had two sons together. David Nessim Lawrence (b. 1960) is an ASCAP Award-winning composer who composed the score for High School Musical. Michael Robert Lawrence (1962–1986) died suddenly from ventricular fibrillation resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 23.[9] Michael was an assistant editor for a television show at the time of his death and was apparently healthy despite a previous diagnosis of slight arrhythmia.

Gormé and Lawrence were in Atlanta, Georgia, at the time of Michael's death, having performed at the Fox Theater the night before. Upon learning of the death, family friend Frank Sinatra sent his private plane to fly the couple to New York to meet David, who was attending school at the time. Following their son's death, Gormé and Lawrence took a year off before touring again.[9]

Gormé died on August 10, 2013.

In June 2019, Lawrence was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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 As if to say "This is still your all-time favorite instrumental recording of ACCUSTOMED, right?" YouTube's not-so-random shuffle play sent me this beauty by Wes Montgomery. I'd just been thinking that Gibson still makes a Wes Montgomery model Gibson L-5 (seen in Wes Montgomery's hands on the album cover) that starts at ten thousand dollars -- its most expensive arch-top. A vivid reminder of why Wes was the greatest jazz guitarist -- according to all the others. That lovely opening verse (repeated at the close) is Wes' own composition; his solos were often a series of brilliant counter melodies, like an arrangement by Nelson Riddle. A live recording by the king of remotes, Wally Heider. Isn't this beautiful? The late Mr. Heider's Wiki entry reminds us that Wally Heider (1923–1989) was an American recording engineer and recording studio owner (Wally Heider Studios.) After a distinguished career as an engineer in the 1940s [source?] and 1950s, he was instrumental in recording the San Francisco Sound in the late 1960s and early 1970s.



Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Or in a passing Buick when you've been pulled over by a traffic cop . . .

Listening to Siriusly Sinatra's replay tonight of the latest NANCY FOR FRANK “SHOW #498 - Week of January 26, 2020 - Gregg "Skooz" Taylor's Playlist.” My favorite segment? The one featuring an otherwise-forgotten song by Rupert Holmes: THE PEOPLE THAT YOU NEVER GET TO LOVE. I can't imagine a better version than Frank Sinatra Jr's unsurpassed reading -- to a gorgeous orchestration (by …. someone good: wonder who?)

This most obscure of all songs composed (words & music) by Rupert Holmes doesn't get a mention in his surprisingly large Wikipedia entry, which reminds us of Mr. Holmes' only No. 1 chart-topping million-seller 41 years ago: "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"

Frankie's voice never sounded better (to my ears) than on this song, whose every stanza has a casual poignancy, a series of 'ships-passing-in-the-night' episodes, culminating with THIS:

You share an elevator just you two: and rise, in total silence, to your floor
Like the fool you are, you walk off, and you leave her there, behind the closing door.
Makes you think about the people that you never get to love [like] a poem you intended to begin.
The saddest words that anyone has said (or wrote): 'What might have been!'

post script below
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Incidentally,  a "stranger who looks almost exactly just like me" posted an astute comment (says me) to this same video, "11 months ago":

We're hooked at the very first words of this song:

You're browsing through a second hand bookstore
And you see her in non-fiction V through Y
She looks up from World War II
And then you catch her, catching you -- catching her eye

I've often thought that lyrics are mainly of two types: "Tell me" (something) or "Show me" and as the MY FAIR LADY song of that name reminds us, SHOW ME is better every time. Case in point.


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"Without the rendition, there is no song . .. "  It seems plainer that it is.  I'm forced to try it the other way: "Without a song, there is no rendition."  More than 90% of the "hit" recordings of the day merge the composer with the performer, the song with the rendition.  After the song has run its course, it soon dies if others don't deem it worthy of rendering--sooner, if the repeat is merely a profit-motivated act of "covering";  later--sometimes much much later--it the repeat is due to the wishes of subsequent performers to "interpret" material that can seem as inexhaustible as the number of musicians who can play or sing it, each finding in the song something universal and personal, an expression of the performer's unique self.

Jule Styne's "Time After Time" is one such example, some taking the tune up-tempo for a thrilling ride in the jet-stream; others slowing it down to a virtual standstill as if to prove the meaning of the title--savoring each and every moment of the song's welcome visit.

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Once or twice a year Siriusly Sinatra plays my favorite track from Sinatra's Rod McKuen songs album – spoken, not sung. Maybe my favorite Don Costa orchestration – summoning to mind a haunting film noire jaded detective sort-of-moment. Frank's speaking voice at its most endearing:

“How can you say something new about being alone? Tell somebody you're a 'loner' -- right away they think you're lonely. It's not the same thing, you know . . . One day, I'm gonna find me an island – a think place. Go there with a mess o' records, and a ukulele; just sit, strummin' – I might even do some thinkin' …. about the women and the towns that I left behind."

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I May Be Wrong (but I think you're wonderful) – Ella & Joe Pass

Once every month or two, Siriusly Sinatra plays a track featuring Ella and her favorite guitarist, Joe Pass. This song was written 90 years ago by two songwriters who were never heard from again. I love Wiki entries that include anecdotes like this one:

"I May Be Wrong (but I Think You're Wonderful)" is a popular song. The music was written by Henry Sullivan, the lyrics by Harry Ruskin. The song was published in 1929 and it was included in the musical revue Murray Anderson's Almanac which ran for 69 performances at Erlanger's Theatre on Broadway in 1929.[1] It is said that the song was written on-demand for John Murray Anderson. In his book, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre,[2] Stanley Green reported that “because Anderson believed that the best songs are created under pressure he locked Sullivan in a room with a piano and threatened to keep him in there until he came up with a potential hit. When finally liberated, the composer had written the most successful number in the show.

Again this is Joe Pass-times-two – two-track, four-handed guitar accompaniment. Genius that he was, Joe makes it sound so easy, switching between finger-style and plectrum picking. It isn't! My favorite song that many people never heard of.

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My favorite 'hymn' by James Taylor (speaking of 40 years ago)

At the end of tonight's CBS Late Night Show interview with Stephen Colbert, as special guest, James Taylor stood up and doffed his cap to the audience, the house band played something that sounded to my ears more like the 'unofficial national anthem of England' – ironically titled “Jerusalem.” When English audiences break into song at sing-along 'pops' concerts, that's the show closer; everyone knows (or used-to) the first stanza. [The 'anthemic' song is a speculation about Jesus visiting England in his younger days – based on a poem by William Blake: “And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England's mountains green?”]

To these half-English ears it was an epiphany moment -- when the Colbert Show band played a few bars, and James nodded their way in appreciation: Suddenly I heard the near-identical cadences of James Taylor's own most hymn-like song, “Walk Down that Lonesome Road, all by yourself.” As James said, moments earlier: Different lyric, different chords, but “use a song you like as a template.”

James had been asked: “Any advice for someone out there who wants to write songs? Without hesitation Mr. Taylor replied:

Yes, choose a song that you like and then …. rewrite it. But write new chords to it – and different lyrics; but keep the trajectory of the song.

STEPHEN : So, who were YOU rewriting when you were first writing songs?

JAMES : Well I didn't take that advice! [laughter] But I was emulating people that I thought were good. And I did once try to write a song that way: I took a Beatles song, TREAT ME LIKE YOU DID THE NIGHT BEFORE and I wrote a song called TURN AWAY. They're really nothing like each other, but it really does work! You take a song you like and re-arrange it, give it a different melody, different lyrics. You can come CLOSE …. but you mustn't actually steal it! Use it as a sort-of 'template.'

[Composed 40 years ago, the first 40 seconds, a capella, still gives me goosebumps. You too?]

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It Never Entered My Mind – Sarah Vaughan

It's a girl song – with a one-line Wiki entry – but with a list of 40 important artists who've recorded it – beginning with our favorite singer in 1947 (a very good year).

Listening at this moment to Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio playing Sarah Vaughan's wonderful rendition, including the opening verse which Sinatra and the rest of the guys understandably skip:

I don't care if there's powder on my nose
I don't care if my hairdo is in place
I've lost the very meaning of repose
I never put a mudpack on my face ....

The Wiki entry (in its entirety) below:


"It Never Entered My Mind" is a 1940 show tune from the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical Higher and Higher (1940), where it was introduced by Shirley Ross in 1940.

Notable recordings[edit]
Frank Sinatra – Frankly Sentimental (1949) Originally recorded November 5, 1947,[1] In the Wee Small Hours (1955), She Shot Me Down (1981)
Patty Andrews (with Gordon Jenkins and orchestra) (1951)
Julie London – Julie Is Her Name (1955)
Miles Davis – Miles Davis, Volume 3 (Blue Note 1954) & Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige 1956)
Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook (1956)
Bud Powell – Bud Powell's Moods (1956)
Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster – Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster (1957)
Stan Getz – Stan Getz and J. J. Johnson at the Opera House (1957)
Jeri Southern – Southern Hospitality (1958)
Stan Getz – Jazz Giants '58
Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Vaughan Sings Broadway: Great Songs from Hit Shows (1958)
Chet Baker – Chet (1959)
Barbara Cook – Barbara Cook Sings "From the Heart" (1959)
Joni James – 100 Strings and Joni (1959)
Stan Getz – Cool Velvet: Stan Getz and Strings (1960)
Anita O'Day – Anita O'Day and Billy May Swing Rodgers and Hart (1960)
Chris Connor – Double Exposure with Maynard Ferguson (1961), Warm Cool: The Atlantic Years (2000)
June Christy – The Intimate Miss Christy (1963)
Rosemary Clooney – Love (1963)
Johnny Hartman – The Voice That Is!! (1964)
Jack Jones – Where Love Has Gone (1964)
Leontyne Price – Right as the Rain (1967)
Oscar Peterson – Another Day (1972)
Jackie McLean with the Great Jazz Trio – New Wine in Old Bottles (1978)
Keith Jarrett Trio – Standards (1983)
Larry Coryell – Comin' Home (1984)[2]
Linda Ronstadt with Nelson Riddle – Lush Life (1984)
George Shearing – Grand Piano (album) (1985)
Susannah McCorkle – Ballad Essentials (2002)
Beegie Adair – Centennial Composers: Richard Rodgers (2003)
Mark Murphy – Once to Every Heart (2005)
Hugh Masekela – Almost Like Being in Jazz (2005)[3]
Chris Botti – Italia (2007)[4]
Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra - The Capitol Studios Sessions (2018)
The Miles Davis recording was used in the movies Runaway Bride (1999) and the Lenny Bruce biopic Lenny (1974).
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Little White Lies – THE HI-LO'S

Gene Puerling was the primary artistic force behind two great vocal groups – THE HI-LO'S and THE SINGERS UNLIMITED. I remember Mr. Puerling was quoted by jazz writer/lyricist Gene (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) Lees that The Hi-Lo's personal favorites among their recordings included LITTLE WHITE LIES (playing at this moment on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio).  According to Wikipedia:

The Hi-Lo's were a vocal quartet formed in 1953, who achieved their greatest fame in the late 1950s and 1960s. The group's name is a reference to their extreme vocal and physical ranges (Bob Strasen and Bob Morse were tall, Gene Puerling and Clark Burroughs were short) ….

Sometimes my favorite vocal recordings of great old standards feature four-part harmony – performed with an almost celestial level of joy: case in point.


[The song's Wikipedia entry has some added anecdotes since the last time I looked including:]

Paul McCartney has identified this song as a favorite of his and John Lennon's when they were growing up together in Liverpool.

Composed (words and music) by Walter Donaldson (who died in 1947) whose many hits included:

"Makin' Whoopee" (lyrics by Gus Kahn)
"Mister Meadowlark" (lyrics by Johnny Mercer)
"My Baby Just Cares for Me" (lyrics by Gus Kahn)
"My Blue Heaven" (lyrics by George A. Whiting)
"My Buddy" (lyrics by Gus Kahn)
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Hanging tears out to dry in the wee small hours

Someone at YouTube just clicked a “like” for a review I wrote a year or so ago for GUESS I'LL HANG MY TEARS OUT TO DRY – the Sammy Cahn / Jimmy Van Heusen song that is my all-time favorite ballad recording (period). From the summer of '58 (my favorite year) arranged by Nelson Riddle. He and Sinatra felt the album “Sings For Only The Lonely” was their crowning achievement at Capitol Records.

Anyway, the almost psychic 'shuffle play' feature at YouTube sent this one my way: Carly Simon harmonizing (as only she can) singing counterpoint melody on “In the Wee Small Hours” in sync with Frank's “Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.”

Question for a wise man: Who's doing a perfect impersonation of Bill Miller (Sinatra's career-long accompanist) on the superb solo piano opening? In some ways, maybe my favorite of the DUETS: As Carly Simon takes the more demanding harmony line throughout – ingeniously recasting the melody of “Wee Small Hours” to fit perfectly the very different melodic pattern of “Tears to Dry.” Intertwined perfection!

Was this one recorded together in the studio – or a continent apart, with Carly on the East Coast and Frank at Capitol Tower in Hollywood? Somewhere in a box of CDs in the basement lies the answer. But I'm old and lazy and . . . help!

From Sinatra Duets “Twentieth Anniversary Deluxe Edition.”

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It's quarter to four, and here we are again, unable to snore . . .

Yesterday I was reading the Wiki entry for Gene Puerling – the driving force behind The Hi-Lo's – that he won a Grammy for his arrangement for Manhattan Transfer – their incomparable rendering of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” The arrangement opens and closes with allusions to “London By Night.” Guess what's playing this very moment on Siriusly Sinatra? Best slide show attached to this version at YouTube, reminding viewers that Tim Hauser left us in 2014.


Gene Puerling. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Eugene Thomas Puerling (March 31, 1929 – March 25, 2008) was a vocal performer and vocal arranger. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Puerling created and led the vocal groups The Hi-Lo's and The Singers Unlimited.

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Natural reverb as "easy as rolling off a log" -- James Taylor

My new favorite 'behind the scenes' musical video: Now that he's gone and done it – his AMERICAN STANDARD album of his favorite Great Songbook standards, I'd been praying that James Taylor would give us a good long video: detailing his approach to each song, and mentioning by name the brilliant musicians invited to share in this joyful achievement. James has good friends in Nashville – and went there to record with the virtuoso of the 'lap steel' acoustic 'resonator' guitar, Jerry Douglas. Jerry's sound is as unique as . . . well, a 'standard' recorded by James Taylor. But he gets even more 'sustain' – natural reverb – than any other player. Just as an aside 'echo' ....

When it came to an echo chamber for his breakthrough (1958) twangy guitar instrumental hit REBEL-'ROUSER Duane Eddy employed a clean and new, round, corrugated-steel culvert: the same kind used for draining water from ditches beneath country roads everywhere! Duane said it gave him the 'perfect' sounding reverberation. And all the reverb units, on all the amplifiers ever since, can't compare with what James calls the natural warmth of that 'analog sound.'

James Taylor's achieved the same ends at his own home studio with a big old 'ship-truck-rail' cargo container. (Maybe a brand new one? I mean, if you're James Taylor, why spare the horses? Go 'perfectly hygienic' from day one, right? Only his closest friends would know for sure.)

This video (just under nine minutes) is brand new and fills my heart with joy. Yours too?






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THIS IS ALL I ASK -- Harry Nilsson

In 1973, the year my Irene and I fell in love (we spent the 70's in Bermuda) I walked into Eddy Demello's record shop on Queen Street in Hamilton and spotted A LITTLE TOUCH OF SCHMILSSON IN THE NIGHT. I bought it immediately (eight dollars) after checking the track listing: great standards (plus a couple of old songs I didn't recognize like “Lazy Moon”) – songs my Mom had sung and Dad had played on his living room Steinway.

I was 26 years old and not yet a Sinatra fan (that would have to wait another 20 years) so I'd not heard THIS IS ALL I ASK – composed (words and music) by the man who arranged the album, Gordon Jenkins, (with London Symphony musicians). Recalling that this was a moment in time when approximately no important artist of my generation was recording ANY Great American Songbook classics.

The YouTube 'shuffle play miracle' just sent this one my way. Suddenly I'm flooded with memories from the sunny summer of '73. As Nancy Sinatra says of her old friend (who instructed her on breath control) “I miss Harry Nilsson!” Bet her Dad appreciated this one at the time.


Comment below the video -- alluding to that amazing breath control

1 year ago
goosebumps at 3:10
Knowing my tastes as it does, the YouTube shuffle play miracle sent me this as its next offering REMEMBER -- as if to say, "Wasn't THIS your favorite song composed, words & music, by Harry Nilsson?"– yes, indeed. Tears of joy. Set to an evocative slide show of memories common to the Human Race. (Read these thoughts from kindred spirits in the “comments” below the video:


Naptown Tex 3 years ago
i have spent the last 12 hours falling in love with harry nilsson's music and voice. i had never heard him, only of him. what an amazing gift this man had. truly one of the greats.

Madbillysuggs 2 years ago
Always told my friends I couldn't understand people crying over a song..... then I heard this and guess what.

RocketKirchner 1 year ago
this could very well be one of the greatest songs every written in any genre.





Edited by Mark Blackburn
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The other LOOK OF LOVE song -- written for Sinatra

But there's ONE look – that I'd give my life to see:
We are locked in a wondrous embrace,
and there, on that fabulous face, is that
fabulous look of love … for ME!

At this moment on Channel 71 Sirius radio Frank Sinatra is singing LOOK OF LOVE -- no, not the hit song from 1967 (a very good year) made famous by Dusty Springfield and recorded by dozens of artists – most recently by Diana Krall: Nope, this is the obscure but beautiful swing tune: “Look of Love” without the 'THE.' Who wrote it? I used to know. What's it from? Is it a Riddle arrangement? A song without a Wiki entry. Another witty Sammy Cahn lyric, it sounds like -- custom-written for Frank. The rich timbre and sustained power of The Voice at the very summit of its powers (in the mid-sixties?)

An approved version is the first offering this day at YouTube, mistakenly labelled (just to confuse listeners) “THE Look of Love.” Oh well, at least it's there! Favorite phrase?

“And more surprising than an elephant's sneeze!”

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On the drive home this morning I turned up the volume as Channel 71 Sirius Radio played Natalie Cole's retire-the-trophy take (I think) of Irving Berlin's LET'S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE – from a 1996 album that featured nine [ count 'em ] arrangers: this up-tempo masterpiece (I believe) was a chart by New Zealand-born Alan Broadbent. Natalie's racing tempo was dictated by an earlier recording by her father and features a terrific instrumental bridge solo on Hammond B-3 organ by Nat King Cole himself: Natalie's idea. She was always her own producer. Not for the first time, I'm thinking “THIS is my all-time favorite Natalie Cole recording" – the Joy in her voice! the vocal athleticism (the best since Ella, I think). Listen to the distinctive opening bars of the arrangement – hear it once and it stays with you forever. A poignant reminder of what we lost when Natalie left us four years ago.


[Wikipedia entry begins and ends with these words]

Natalie Maria Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015) was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Cole was the daughter of American singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole. She rose to success in the mid-1970s as an R&B singer with the hits "This Will Be", "Inseparable" (1975), and "Our Love" (1977). She returned as a pop singer on the 1987 album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". In the 1990s, she sang traditional pop by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and won her seven Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide.[1] On December 31, 2015, Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure ….

Cole's funeral was held on January 11, 2016, at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles. David Foster, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Eddie Levert, Mary Wilson, Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Jesse Jackson, Angela Bassett, Denise Nicholas, Marla Gibbs, Jackée Harry and Freda Payne were among the mourners at the funeral. After the funeral, she was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[24][25]
P.S. Next offering sent my way by YouTube: As if to say, "Don't forget, she was just as good 'live' as in the studio!" A TV concert appearance same year she recorded this one. Talk about a great jazz orchestra! Wasn't she lovely?

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Favorite 'live' jazz performance of ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL

A song forever 'owned' by Sinatra who introduced it in long ago 1939 and did the best-ever studio recording back in the late 60's (for his “Strangers In The Night” album). It always sounds to my ears like a Cole Porter tune (it's that good).  But no – the song's tiny Wiki entry in its entirety states,

"All or Nothing at All" is a song composed in 1939 by Arthur Altman, with lyrics by Jack Lawrence.
Frank Sinatra's August 31, 1939[1] recording of the song became a huge hit in 1943, when it was reissued by Columbia Records during the 1942-44 musicians' strike.[2] The record topped the Billboard charts in 1943 during a 21-week stay.[3]
A rendition of the song is used and sung by B.O. Skunk disguised as Sinatra in Tex Avery's 1948 animated cartoon, Little 'Tinker.


Reminded of all this by YouTube sending my way, my favorite 'live' performance by Canada's other greatest gift to jazz. I'm partial to Diana's gifted supporting cast – especially the brilliant solo by Anthony Wilson. Pardon the aside, but I'm a guitarist and Tony is playing my dream instrument, a Gibson “Byrdland” – circa 1959, created for Country-jazz giant Hank Garland: “priceless” -- but trading for upwards of 50 thousand dollars. First guitar purchase if I win the lottery in 2020!

From her wonderful 'Concert in Rio' DVD:

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Still my favorite BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE

Coincidentally (or not) James Taylor's Facebook page just sent me a link to an obscure song from a 'Merrie Melodies' cartoon (1938) -- AS EASY AS ROLLING OFF A LOG -- which James included on his new "American Standard" album. I replied a moment ago:

Quick question for JT fans who listen to "American Standard" and still care to ask: 'Who wrote that song?' Mr. Taylor's most humorous track -- 'Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat' -- was composed by Frank (Guys & Dolls) Loesser who won a 'Best Original Song' Academy Award for another song James recorded a decade ago. What was that song? Okay, time's up! The retire-the-trophy version of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' with the late great Natalie Cole; featuring the most endearing love banter at song's end. ("It's a perfectly nice drink!")

Link to AS EASY AS ROLLING OFF A LOG at James Taylor's Facebook page. He is the only one who has ever covered this one!
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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[Just left Mr. Taylor an addendum]  At your first concert appearance here in Winnipeg, I was struck by your distinguished-looking sax player – Lou Marini (we now know his name thanks to your latest American Standard video) who plays a brilliant clarinet solo on EASY AS ROLLING OFF A LOG. Mr. Marini alludes (twice) to my second-favorite composer Harry (Salvatore Guaragna) Warren's 'Lullaby of Broadway' – the notes that accompany the opening phrase (“come on along and listen to …) plus a few notes from that standard's bridge. That song was composed three years earlier (1935) and won Harry Warren the first of three 'Best Original Song' Oscars. Mr. Warren still holds the record for most No. 1 chart-topping melodies – 21, for almost as many artists. He's tied with Irving Berlin with 38 truly great songs piece. But you and Lou knew all this too! Pardon the long aside. We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming ….


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One of England's most distinguished recording engineers -- who worked at Trident Studios London with James Taylor and a host of other top recording stars of the early 1970's -- died three days ago. [a friend writes] "Robin Geoffrey Cable: We are highly devastated and extremely saddened to announce the death of our beloved one. He died on February 6, 2020
"We were shocked when we saw the articles on a lot of popular websites! However, we had to do some research by ourselves, and we have some shocking news for you . . . "
"We learnt about the recent death of Robin Geoffrey Cable. This was made known to us through the news posted across social medias earlier today." [Just as an aside] I visited Trident Studios in London the summer of '73 and spoke with Mr. Cable, noting that he employed made-in-California JBL studio monitors. He said they provided just the right "mid-range bite" (his words) that an engineer begins to need after hours of listening at high volume. Not for home use, he said; listening in his own living room, he liked the sweet warmth of his 'Tannoy' (English) speakers. The little details that stay with us, fifty years on.  Oh yes, and Mr. Cable was the engineer for both those Nilsson recordings mentioned above:  THIS IS ALL I ASK and REMEMBER (Christmas).

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