Back at the beginning of time (pre-digitmania), Franklin P. Jones quietly penned one of my favorite thoughts about love: “Love does not make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
A jazz musician friend once pointed out to me that almost every jazz standard is about one of two things: “I’m so happy I’m in love!” or “Why is everybody in love but me?” The jazz dude didn’t put it quite so politely, but this is a family websketch, so I’ll let you figure out how he actually put it. The meaning is pretty much the same.
When I was studying jazz vocal in Seattle my coach, Jay Clayton, talked to me about performance. “Sing the lyrics of each song to the man you love.” I was single at the time, didn’t have a guy in my life, and I told her so. Jay didn’t miss a beat, just sat at the piano under the portrait of a glowering Miles Davis and said, “Then sing them to the man you want to love.”
A great piece of advice and with it, even I could do something with “Body and Soul.”
Today, we’re talkin’ romance. If you have somebody to sing a song to, belt it out. Con brio! If not, get yourself in the right mood to sing to the man or woman you want to love. The gods of love hear many things and bring us many surprises. On this subject, I could write a book.
I’ll kick off with Judy Garland live doing a sweet and swingy rendition of the lovely “Time After Time,” a Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne tune from the movie, “It Happened in Brooklyn.” Gotta put that one on my list. I love those old movie musicals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S01JyucFZ5c
And speaking of movies, this one was not a musical but a quirky love story with music – “When Harry Met Sally” – with the real Harry doing the tunes. Harry Connick, Jr. that is. Don’t let the big orchestra opening fool you. It’s a bouncy, jazzy version of “It Had to Be You.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUqV1HoEYLw
On the darker side of romance, here’s the wonderful Julie London with her signature tune, “Cry Me a River,” recorded in 1955. No one did it better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9VBwySZmzw
We could hardly talk about romantic tunes – happy or sad – without Frank, now could we? This one is a classic, “One For My Baby,” but it’s also a darned good performance by Ol’ Blue Eyes, live on a stage. Nicely done, Frank. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxd9QU2n2oY
And just to bring us all back to the sweet spot of falling in love, here’s a clip with Petula Clark and Don Francks from the movie version of “Finian’s Rainbow.” Did you know this was directed by Francis Ford Coppola – long before “Apocalypse Now,” of course. “Finian’s Rainbow” is a delightful musical with a lot of good Irish antics and great music including “Old Devil Moon.” Give a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS5jXMHXU84
I started today with Franklin P. Jones. I’ll wrap up with Rilke. “Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.”
Is there a better definition anywhere?