Amidst all the RIP notices (Lux Interior, Blossom Dearie, Touch & GO Distro…..) I thought maybe we should post something a bit more upbeat. My good friend Chris Sienko recently tracked down the final two Roland Kirk albums that he was missing for his collection, and emailed me about an article he wrote about Kirk for Blastitude.
As he describes it, “The article contains 28 capsule reviews of Kirk’s canonical albums (not counting bootlegs or posthumous CDs released after his death). It is originally sourced from two lengthy emails sent to Blastitude’s editor-in-chief, Larry Dolman, explaining what I had been listening to obsessively for the last 8 months or so. If it reads like a breathless, middle-of-the-night email, that’s because it basically is (cleaned up a bit and augmented later for print-readiness).”
Definitely well worth a read, and if you haven’t heard Kirk’s “Domino”, I suggest you do yourself a favor and check it out!
Inklings about the demise of venerable indie label Touch and Go have been floating around the blogosphere for the past few days, and today the situation became clearer: Time Out Chicago is reporting the record label, which has been operating out of Chicago since 1983, will fold its manufacturing and distribution wing, and carry on as a free-standing indie label.
Touch and Go released two albums yesterday: Mi Ami’s Watersports and Sholi’s debut self-titled LP.
According to a statement from label owner Corey Rusk, T&G will “be busy for a few months working closely with the departing labels and scaling our company to an appropriate smaller size after their departure. It is the end of a grand chapter in Touch and Go’s history, but we also know that good things can come from new beginnings.”
Oh no oh no, it’s Valentine’s Day! Date tonight? OK, did you get chocolates? Go get ‘em! And flowers? Are they fair trade flowers? OK, ready?
Now you need some music. We’re going to lay it on a little thick here. It’s Valentine’s Day; if you’re going to celebrate, just go for it, right? Resist the urge to get ironic with CocoRosie’s “By Your Side” or Love Is All’s “Last Choice”.
First, some classics:
So In Love – Cole Porter. I particularly like KD Lang‘s version.
That Old Black Magic – Johnny Mercer. Try Shirley Horn‘s version.
La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf or try Grace Jones‘s cover
Wild Is the Wind – Nina Simone and David Bowie both have great versions of this one.
I Only Have Eyes for You – The Flamingos
At Last – Etta James
I’ll Be Your Mirror – The Velvet Underground & Nico
Everyday Clothes – Jonathan Richman
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green (OK, maybe you should leave this songs out if your relationship is just starting out… don’t push it too hard.)
Now, some newer tracks:
Sweet Lovin’ Man – The Magnetic Fields
Love Endeavor – Alice Smith
Inside and Out – Feist
Amy – Mark Ronson featuring Kenna
I Melt with You – Modern English did it originally, but you might prefer Nouvelle Vague‘s bossa nova cover.
Baby – Rufus Wainwright
And if you can take little drama, you might throw in:
We Both Go Down Together – The Decemberists
Your Arms around Me – Jens Lekman
OK, ready? GO.
Wait, what? No date tonight? OK, that’s OK. There’s lots of things you can do tonight instead. Go have some fun. Whatever you do, do not sit at home with a bottle of whiskey and listen to the Mountain Goats on repeat.
When I was in college I went through something of a Cole Porter phase. I had a few albums of his songs, and so I could compare different singers’ interpretations of the same songs.
One that stood out in particular was Blossom Dearie’s version of “Always True to You in My Fashion”. Dearie’s clear, high, kittenish voice gave a touch of innocence to Porter’s ribald lyrics — a perfect counterpoint, really, just right for the song. And so I filed her name away in my mind as something to remember.
A few years later a friend gave me the Blossom Dearie Jazz Masters album from Verve. I hadn’t really listened to her since college, and only knew the one song, but the album quickly became a favorite. Her haunting version of “Once Upon a Summertime”, sweet but tinged with regret, is my favorite version of that song. There are also sweet love songs (“Let Me Love You”, “Someone to Watch Over Me”), funny songs (“Give Him the Ooh-La-La”, “I Won’t Dance”), and cool jazz (“Dearie’s Blues”). Though her voice is very distinctive, she brings something different to every song.
Later I found out that I (like most Americans my age) had known Dearie’s voice as a child, as part of the Schoolhouse Rock! series, where she sang “Figure Eight” and “Unpack Your Adjectives”.
Dearie had a long career, and I know I have only begun to scratch the surface in discovering her work. I regret missing her cabaret residency just a few years ago in New York. Why didn’t I go? Perhaps I thought there would always be another opportunity to hear this timeless voice.
Blossom Dearie died this past Saturday at the age of 82, of natural causes, in her Greenwich Village apartment.