Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 20 Greatest American Standards Ever Written

 It's hard for me to believe that it's been a year since I first published my list of "The 20 Greatest American Standards Ever Written" on this blog.  My last posting of this list was on November 8, 2009.  It's time to take another look at this list to see what changes need to be made, if any.  For new readers to this blog, in order to qualify for the list, the song must be over 50 years old.  In addition to the list of songs, I have listed my favorite personal recording of these songs as a good starting reference for anyone who wants to hear what I feel is the definitive recording of all these wonderful ageless songs. Also I am ranking the 20 songs from one to twenty with one being the best of the best.  Of course, picking 20 songs out of thousands is not easy and I know every reader will have their own favorites and their own ranking and I encourage any and all comments from all of my readers.
A few comments about the changes in the list. We have a new top number one song, "You've Changed" as sung by the late Eva Cassidy.  So sad for all of us that we lost Eva at such a young age.  There are lots of recordings of this great song, but I keep coming back to her version.  How good was she to push Sinatra's version off the list?  Yes, her recording is that good!  Speaking of Sinatra, he is listed as the "Best of the Best" on five songs and it was a coin toss with many more.  Only confirms the fact that Frank Sinatra was and still is the "Chairman" of the "Great American Songbook".  I took two great songs off the list, "Body and Soul" and sadly my long time personal favorite, "Misty".  I needed to make room for "My One And Only Love" and "These Foolish Things". Lastly, "Where or When" came close to breaking into the lineup.

THE 20 GREATEST AMERICAN STANDARDS 
1. You've Changed: Eve Cassidy
2. What's New: Frank Sinatra
3. The Nearness of You: Norah Jones
4. Here's That Rainy Day: Kenny Rankin
5. Embraceable You: Lena Horne & Frank Sinatra Duet
6. The Very Thought of You: Tony Bennett & Paul McCartney Duet
7. My Funny Valentine: Carly Simon
8. I've Got You Under My Skin: Frank Sinatra
9. Over The Rainbow: Ray Charles & Johnny Mathis Duet
10. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: Ella Fitzgerald
11. In The Still Of The Night: Frank Sinatra
12. Night And Day: Frank Sinatra
13. Someone To Watch Over Me: Nancy Wilson
14. At Last: Etta James
15. All My Tomorrows: Frank Sinatra
16. The Way You Look Tonight: Tony Bennett
17. They Can't Take That Away From Me: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong Duet
18. All The Things You Are To Me: Carly Simon
19. My One And Only Love: Nancy Wilson
20. These Foolish Things: Dinah Washington

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brian Wilson Does Gershwin


I just finished listening to the new Brian Wilson CD, "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin".  Let me cut to the quick, if you like the Brian Wilson sound, you will like this CD.  If you like Gershwin you will like this CD. If you like the Brian Wilson sound and Gershwin songs, you will love this CD.  It turns out that the only Gershwin song that Brian knew before he made this CD was "Rhapsody in Blue" because he said his family played the record all the time at home and the melody really got into his head and has never left.  I find it hard to believe that in all the years Brian has been a major player in the music industry, he never got to know any other Gershwin songs. But that's exactly what he said when he was interviewed on XM radio's Nancy Sinatra show last week. This fact makes Brian's approach to many of these Gershwin gems very interesting.  He sang each song with an open mind and without any restraints caused by hearing the many classic recordings.  One other comment from Brian was that he was musically influenced at an early age by the music of the Four Freshmen. I had never heard this before and in thinking back about the "Beach Boys" sound, you can pick up some of the voice harmonies that the Four Freshman made famous.  Personally I really liked the CD.  I enjoyed the "Pop" approach to these "Super Star Songs" from the "Great American Songbook".   In particular, I really liked Brian's arrangement of the Gershwin song "The Like in I Love You".  I was not familiar with this Gershwin song but loved the melody and lyric. There are also four songs that sounded very much like the "Beach Boys": "They Can't Take That Away From Me", "I Got Rhythm", I've Got A Crush On You and "Nothing But Love". I loved them all.  And last but not least, there were five songs that Brian did as a solo that showed me a new side of his great talent.  His approach and sound was just great on: "I Loves you Porgy", "Love Is Here To Stay", "It Ain't Necessarily So", "S'Wonderful" and "Summertime".  At times Brian sounded the way I think "Sting" would sound singing these songs.  I hope this CD is very successful for Brian and encourages him to do another CD from songs listed on my "Top 20 Greatest Songs Ever Written in the Great American Songbook". I would be honored to work on the development of the playlist with Brian. Brian, have your people call my people!
Get the CD, you won't be disappointed!

CD Review: Shirley Crabbe, "Bridges"

Vocalist Shirley Crabbe is a marvelous Jazz singer who makes singing seem effortless.  Her interpretation of Lyric and her beautiful ...