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Cabaret Records 1993
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at "Wesla's iPod"
- Show Me
- Don't Go to Strangers
- Let There Be Love
- Blues Are Brewin'
- He Loves Me
- Ev'rything I Love
- Beautiful Love
- I Just Found Out About Love
- You'll See
- At Long Last Love
- Love Letters
- Wonderful Guy
- Time After Time
- Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat
- It Never Entered My Mind
mike greensill: piano / arranger
Dean Reilly: bass
Tom duckworth: drums
orrin keepnews: producer
Love is a fairly universal element of the human condition, and that is undoubtedly why so many songs are written about it. Also, it comes from the same section of the brain were we deal with "higher concepts"' or so I've been told by some or other PBS documentary. So Beautiful Love seemed like a great idea for the recording title, and it serves well as a unifying theme of this collection of American popular song. As the writer of Beautiful Love, Victor Young is certainly one of the most beloved songwriters, and unfailingly he worked with first-rate lyricists. Although this recording has only two of his tunes, I hope to do many more in the near future.
Usually the person writing the notes for a recording is extremely knowledgeable and has piles of reference books for those tiny bits of data escaping conscious remembrance. I have no such qualifications and only a few reference books. What I can share with you is my personal understanding of each song and all the reasons why I want to perform it. So, with that in mind, here follow a few thoughts.
Show Me This is one of those wonderful 'angry' songs that every singer loves to do. It expresses that one emotion that women just aren't allowed, and if not too heavy-handed can be a lot of fun for both the listener and the singer. Here it has been distilled into mere 'annoyance', and Michael Greensill does an ultra-hip arrangement to make this 'show tune' at home in a "sleazy night club" setting.
Don't Go To Strangers We're talking heavy seduction here, innuendo on innuendo, and a reminder of what has gone before. The memory of that old flame comes in handy for flights of fantasy. Singing this song reminds me of when I was a girl of 14 or so, practicing "grown-up" expressions of sophistication in front of the mirror. That took place somewhat after the 1954 date of this song, and here in my middle years I finally feel "grown-up" enough to sing this slightly wicked invitation.
Let There Be Love This is the song we all know as having been recorded by just about everyone else on the planet, but here with lyrics from the English movie. Chili con carne is not served in this version, and in exchange we get extremely comfortable at "small corner tables." Also we get the fine and featured bass playing of the legendary Dean Reilly. What a bargain.
Blues Are Brewin' Introduced by Billie Holiday in the 1947 movie 'New Orleans', this song, while in the classic blues format, is deceptive. And unjlike most blues, this one has a bridge and a happy ending. It comes from a book of 40s tunes brought to me by a fan who was dying. I didn't know the fella, but he knew me and had marked all the songs in the book he thought I should consider singing. I never saw him again after that one evening, but I dutifully studied all the songs as marked, This was one of them, a surprise to me, and a great gift from someone I'll never be able to thank.
He Loves Me Again, Mike Greensill takes this song out of the 'showtune' genre and transforms it into a swinging romp. It is a celebration of that magic moment the lucky ones have experienced, sudden realization of love (and lust) where formerly resided only acquaintance and friendship.
Ev'rything I Love Well as you've probably heard by now, the California Cabaret Code requires one Cole Porter song per show – or per recording, and we've got two. In his writings, Alec Wilder found this one to be somewhat monotonous, but I think it is more a case of single-minded devotion. In the verse, the singer jokes about her total devotion to the 'singee'. While kissing, she's already worried about the next kiss and when (or if) it will arrive. We may be dealing with a case of borderline 'fatal attraction' here, but the song is anything but monotonous.
Beautiful Love About 2:30 one morning after we'd come home from a gig, Michael and I watched a little television while eating scrambled eggs. In that homey and safe setting I first heard this tune and was smitten. It speaks as though love was a narcotic from whose hold one cannot be released. But because the lyric is so honest, and the melody so hauntingly exquisite, the singer somehow seems perfectly willing to continue with this arrangement, Others can tell you how this 1931 popular song found its way into a movie, and they can even tell you the movie's correct title. But if you've never been so crazy as to have lived it, then even they cannot explain why the singer sounds content to be utterly enslaved.
I Just Found Out About Love I'm sometimes accused of doing only obscure tunes, and my retort is often, "Yes, that's right, live with it." Actually I'm a little surprised to have to remind people that there was a time when all the songs they now hold dear were as yet unknown to them. And what is an obscure song, anyway? I define it as "any song I don't know," and I invite you to adopt this definition as your own. I first heard this Jimmy McHugh tune while listening to my friend, Faith Winthrop. When I asked her about it she immediately gave my a copy – drove over to my house with it the very next day. Now that's a real friend. We perform it in completely different keys, and the tempo is somewhat altered, but the spirit is the same, When Faith sings it, I hear her absolute joy in the fabulous new discover, and I try to bring the same innocent surprise to my performance; a little joke we both love to share with the listener.
You'll See In some versions of Webster's dictionary a picture of Carroll Coates is used to define 'tenacious.' Songwriters have a hard life because there are so many bad ones, giving all the poor reputation. Besides, even the good ones have to write twenty (or thirty or forty) stinkers to come up with one good tune. It isn't easy, and a license should probably be required to even try. As a result, Carroll, one of the best around today, has made it his business to know and be known by every singer in the universe just to get his songs heard. This is a song about tenacity in that the singer has obviously been dumped by the 'singee' in every known way. And yet, the singer is oblivious to it all and firmly believes that the 'singee' will someday have a change of heart and 'see'. It's pure Coates philosophy.
At Long Last Love As threatened, here's the other Cole Porter tune. It is rumored that Porter wrote this while waiting to be rescued after his famous horse accident. I don't know if that is true, but I do know that for many years Benny Green of the BBC has complained bitterly that no one does the verse and all the choruses. Well, for starters, some of the choruses are incomplete. But Mr. Green and all the rest of you will find three herein. This song is so much fun to sing.
Love Letters Wildly romantic. Every story I hear about Victor Young is more revealing than the last, and all suggest that he was indeed wildly romantic. It must be true, because this is a song that absolutely captures the estrangement and resulting idolization that comes from love-by-mail. Ed Heyman's lyric, as is so often true of his work, makes it easy to recall one's own feeling, here while reading words written from a loved one far away.
Wonderful Guy In 1963 I sang this song in a high school variety show and for me it was like being on Broadway. Somehow I never got over it. Michael Greensill, in his finest effort to date, has made this a song Mary Martin would possibly not recognize right off but would very much enjoy in this version, as it includes a vocal/drum duo with the great Tom Duckworth. There is no doubt that the singer is thoroughly in love, and there's her own joyful surprise at the unexpected development. The old saw comes to mind – we only find love when we're not looking for it. How annoyingly true.
Time After Time The great poet of our time is not Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is Sammy Cahn, hands down. Sometimes we just can't see the forest for the trees, huh? But it is true, nonetheless, and I submit this song as proof by which no other will be needed. Only Jule Styne could do justice to this 'everyman' sentiment. Life may often be a drudgery, but having someone to love and to be loved in return is a treasure beyond calculable value.
Sit down, You're Rockin' The Boat It was Michael's idea for me to do this song, and I first thought he was wacko-city. But then I began to hear the story, and I was hooked. Also the religious theme of the song helps us to keep our NEA grant possibility status. I love singing this song, and people seem to love hearing it, "the old, old story" in a more secular setting.
It Never Entered My Mind The recording wouldn't be complete without one song from the short list of 'saddest songs ever written.' Who else but Lorenz Hart could write a lyric as heart-wrenchingly devastating as this? It speaks for itself, so I won't natter on.
San Francisco 1994