Wednesday, February 14, 2007

155. Rating Game Redux 5: Love's Labours Recycled

I am a terrible terrible person, a lazy lazy man. There; repeating things twice not only makes them so, but makes them go away. So now I can (a) follow up on the previous musical posting while (b) foisting off stuff I've already done for my local paper and wife, in that order, if I may be discreet.

The most recent Ratings Game list is "Best Love Songs." As usual, one may be the loneliest number, but three remains the toughest; still, here it is:

"My Funny Valentine"
A breathless ode to passion in the light of human imperfection (first sung on screen by Judy Garland to Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms/1939), this song asserts everyone can love and be loved. It always "makes me smile in my heart," especially Chet Baker's cover, although Elvis Costello risks a go and almost succeeds.

On the other hand, what to sing when love fades? Hoagy Carmichael claims the melody came to him all at once, like a gift, while he was walking down a street in Bloomington, Indiana. There’s actually a plaque at the site--and well there should be. Wikipedia reports over 1800 recordings, and Mitchell Parish's lyrics guarantee that this "memory of love’s refrain" will continue as long as lovers continue to part. The definitive cover is impossible to name, although Nat "King" Cole may win by default; still, I'm partial to Willie Nelson's minimalist take.

"I Put a Spell on You"
As good as The Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" may be in capturing obsession's wide-eyed grimace, this tune, definitively covered by the unhinged Screamin' Jay Hawkins as a voodoo-blues creep-out, nails love's worst impulses like a coffin lid: "I don’t care if you don't want me, I'm yours anyhow." Yikes.

Honorable Mentions: "All You Need Is Love," "Blue Moon," "September Song," "Love and Happiness," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Besame Mucho," "All Is Full of Love," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

And on a personal note: Every year I put together a Valentine's CD for my wife--although now that she has an iPod, is such a cumbersome method of transmittal obsolete? I hope not: It's too much fun finding silly cover art.*

This year it's Two for the Road; and here's the playlist:

Give The Girl A Kiss/Bruce Springsteen
Sea Cruise/Rico
We're Going to Be Friends/The White Stripes
Sea Of Love/Phil Phillips & The Twilights
Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl In Town)/Jackie Wilson
Why/David Byrne
Vision Of Love/Explorers
Secret Love/Ry Cooder & Manuel Galban
All Of Me/Willie Nelson
Linger In My Arms A Little Longer, Baby/Peggy Lee
Touch Of Loving/Bobby Sykes
Pennies from Heaven/Louis Prima
Breathe/The Silent League
Tango/坂本龍一 (that's all I can tell you)
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes/The Platters
Girl From Ipanema/Stan Getz
Au Fond Du Temple Saint/David Byrne
Sweet Love On My Mind/Jimmy & Johnny
Sweet Nothin's/Brenda Lee
Fleeting Smile/Roger Eno
Here, There And Everywhere/The Beatles
My One And Only Love/Chet Baker
The Best Is Yet To Come/Nancy Wilson
Take Me Home/Crystal Gayle
Two for the Road/Bruce Springsteen

Aw; now ain't that cute.

So forgive me my lack of industry; let's just live in the love, my funny valentines. Besides, "There's nothing you can do that can't be done."

And last but never least: Happy Birthday, dear Mimi. Happy Birthday to--who? You. (Beeg kees, leettle kees, leettle kees, leettle hug, beeg hug, beeg kees.)

*Both images in this posting come from James Lileks' site; I provide a link to it from this blog. So thanx and a tippo to my favorite boomer web-attic, with deconstructions. (Sometimes, late at night, when the matchbooks are all ironed and the Bubble-Duds folded neatly away, I swear I can still hear the distant calling of Meat! Meat! Meat!)

1 comment:

ace said...

Great post. You know if you don't recycle stuff we don't get to read it. I'm writing, though, to point out that Mark Steyn has an article up about My Funny Valentine where he says:

There are thousands of love songs for Valentine’s Day but only one great Valentine love song. After Sinatra re-introduced it to the world on the first track of Songs For Young Lovers in 1954, everyone and his aunt started singing it, to the point where, at the dawn of the LP era, the joke was that it would be easier to list the albums that didn’t have “My Funny Valentine” on them. Fifty years on, the joke stands up almost as well as the song: Sheryl Crow and Christina Aguilera and Rod Stewart and Anita Baker have all recorded the number.

He also has a obituary for Betty Comden and “We’ll Be Together Again” is Song of the Week.

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