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Up to the sixties, these songs were everywhere – now they have almost faded away. Now that I have lived them and lived through them I understand them better.
They take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same.
Has performing these songs taught you anything you didn’t know from listening to them?
Can you get inside these songs in your 70s in a way you might not have been able to in your 20s and 30s? When I was young there were a lot of signs along the way that I couldn’t interpret, they were there and I saw them, but they were mystifying. When you see footage of yourself performing 40 or 50 years ago, does it seem like a different person? I see Nat King Cole, Nature Boy – a very strange enchanted boy, a terribly sophisticated performer, got a cross section of music in him, already postmodern. It seems like 20 years after the war ended, all the entertainment was about it – movies, TV shows, novels, everything from South Pacific to Hogan’s Heroes. It would probably be more like a method actor, whatever a method actor is.
Now when I look back I can see them for what they were, what they meant. We assume everyone shares this common vocabulary, but in fact, it’s fading from popular memory. Not anymore than I would try to rescue Beethoven, Brahms, or Mozart. You do some great singing here – “When the World Was Young,” “These Foolish Things” – which begs the question, if you can sing like that, why don’t you always sing like that? “When the World Was Young,” “These Foolish Things,” are conversational songs. Remembrance of things past, I do that all the time.
These songs are not hiding behind a wall or at the bottom of the sea, they’re right there out in the open, anyone can find them. You don’t want to be spitting the words out in a crude way. The emphasis is different and there is no reason to force the vernacular. One song you don’t sing perfectly is “September of My Years.” Your voice cracks on that, but fits the lyric.
“An airline ticket to romantic places” is a contrasting type of phraseology, than, say, “bury my body by the highway side.” The intonation is different, more circumspectual, more internal. Did you consider fixing that or did you realize it works?
So these CDs to me represent the LPs that I should have been making. There’s enough of my personality written into the lyrics so that I could just focus on the melodies within the arrangements.
What’s the challenge of singing with a live horn section? You like to be spontaneous in the studio, but here you’re working with tight arrangements and charts. As a vocalist you’re restricted within definite harmonic patterns.It’s hard not to think of World War II when we hear some of these.You were born during the war – do you remember anything about it? I was born in Duluth – industrial town, ship yards, ore docks, grain elevators, mainline train yards, switching yards.Between the Depression and the war, people had to swallow so much pain that songs that might sound overly sentimental to us had tremendous resonance.A line like “as a man who has never paused at wishing wells” – it might sound corny to people who haven’t lived too much. Since then I’ve been all over the world, I’ve seen oracles and wishing wells.But you have more control within those patterns than you would if there were no boundaries whatsoever, it actually takes less thought, hardly any thinking.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating