Showing posts with label YouTube. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YouTube. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas Redux

Over the years I’ve posted these YouTube piano “performances” of my favorite Christmas songs.  I present them here in one place and by clicking onto the title, one can read my original reason for recording each.  Interspersed are some photographs of Christmas here in Florida.  It’s certainly not the same as our Connecticut years but it is the same spirit.

The first is by none other than Bill Evans and it’s the most viewed of my selections. 

 Luminaries light the way on our road throughout Christmas Eve.

Here is one of my very favorites, by Vince Guaraldi, something this great jazz pianist wrote for A Charlie Brown Christmas special in 1965.

 Many homes are decorated along the Intracoastal Waterway

This is an unusual one in that it was written by none other than Peggy Lee.  It’s rarely performed yet beautiful

The Palm Beach Boat Parade organizes in front of Old Port Cove and is preceded by fireworks all along the parade route up to Jupiter.

And the last is one of the iconic Christmas songs we hear again and again, but as I’m away from “home” – NYC where I was born and will always identify with -- it has a special meaning to me.

May your holidays be happy and healthy!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Getting Tall

My rendition of “Getting Tall” was recorded more than five years ago, but at the time, as its digital size was within the parameters of BlogSpot’s own video capabilities, I embedded it in the blog entry with their software.  This rendered it unplayable on mobile devices which are now the primary way my blog and therefore posted videos are accessed.  Thus, I’ve put it on YouTube and this can now be seen and heard in this entry.

Originally I posted it at the same time as “One Song Glory” from the musical Rent and both videos were a departure for me for reasons I explained in the former entry:

“Unlike the other videos I’ve done its close up.  This is not because I’m wild about my hands.  After all, they are, together, 142 years old! : - ).  But the sound was better with my little digital camera nearer to the piano. ‘One Song Glory’ is a genre outside my traditional classic Broadway comfort zone.  In other words, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but sometimes we have to forge into new territory.”

I continued with “the musical structure of ‘Getting Tall,’ from the musical Nine, on the other hand (no pun intended), is closer to the traditional Broadway musical, so I’m more relaxed playing this piece….’Getting Tall” is a very evocative conceit, the younger self counseling the mature version of the same person.”
Learning more, knowing less,
Simple words, tenderness part of getting tall.

Hopefully, that tenderness comes across….”

On a related matter, I received a comment on my recording of “This Funny World” which I’ll share here. I don’t get many comments as my videos are not heavily trafficked as are so many of the professional ones, but it’s always pleasing to learn that the tree is not falling in a silent forest and there are some people who come forth to express their feelings.  This one is particularly appreciated for the reasons I expressed in my reply:

From “Tom”
I was looking around for the song “This Funny World” by Rodgers and Hart; I had remembered the song from the past and thought how poignant and in many ways also how true the words seem to be.  These words as well as the music begins a chain of events causing a sharp sense of sadness, pity, and regret, and still a realization that life’s journey for everyone,-- to one degree or the other,--  have to say that this funny world has been making fun of them. But I wanted to learn the song and of course put into you-to-bee “How to play (This funny World) and this wonderful looking keyboard came up with a pair of hands on it, I thought to myself --  ok let’s see how bad this guy messes up the song, but to my surprise and delight I could sit through the entire song and drink in every beautiful note and expression, nothing added nothing subtracted it actually was what I was looking for, you have an extraordinary ear and the ability to present the song just as the writers intended.   Thank you.

My Reply:
Thank you, Tom, for your kind comments.  You touched upon both my strength and weakness as a pianist.  I do try to focus on a literal interpretation and play the song as I feel it.  I lack the musical education to render these songs with the kind of voicing and interpretation of some of my favorite pianists such as Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson.  But over the years I tried to commit some of my favorites to YouTube.  I laughed when you said that you found a pair of hands and a keyboard in your search for the song.  My recording device is a digital camera which I’ve learned that when I record a distance from the piano to get my body and all into the video, my living room becomes an echo chamber.  Better be close, very close to the piano for the best sound and, even then, it has noticeable limitations. I’ve recorded 4 CDs in a studio and these sound better, but they are not available commercially.  Also, when I do a YouTube recording, I usually write it up in my blog, and my entry on “This Funny World” is at this link:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?

Billy Barnes is not exactly a household name in the annals of the Great American songbook but he had a successful career as a composer and lyricist.  Maybe his relative anonymity is because so much of his work was for TV rather than the stage, but one recognizable hit alone catapulted him into the company of some of the greats, "(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair."  My attraction to the song is similar to the one I have for Jerry Herman’s romantic ballad, “I Won’t Send Roses,” both bittersweet, haunting, regretful.

It takes an exceptional lyricist to make a great song so memorable.  Barnes’ song crafting created a certain kind of poignancy in this one, rendering it a classic.  One can listen to two completely different  versions on YouTube, Barbra Streisand’s highly stylized rendition recorded early in her career and Rosemary Clooney’s recorded late in hers.  Clooney has the perspective of an older woman with life’s experience to “sell” the song.  After all, it is more about a mature, “successful” woman, now alone “in a carnival city.”

My own piano recording can’t do the song justice without the words and you’ll note the ambiguity of my timing.  The song is written in 4/4 time, but the lyrics cry out for it to be played in a waltz tempo so frequently associated with the merry-go-round of the lyrics and I’m constantly drawn in and then  out of that tempo so my version is simply the way I feel it, wrong timing and all.  But I would like to add this to my YouTube library of some of my favorites.

For a full appreciation, the lyrics are necessary:

I wanted the music to play on forever
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I wanted the clown to be constantly clever
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I bought my blue ribbons to tie up my hair
But couldn't find anybody to care
The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt now
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
Oh mother dear, I know you're very proud
Your little girl in gingham is so far from the crowd
No daddy dear, you never could have known
That I would be successful, yet so very alone
I wanted to live in a carnival city
With laughter everywhere
I wanted my friends to be thrilling and witty
I wanted somebody to care
I found my blue ribbons all shiny and new
But now I discover them no longer blue
The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt me
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
There's nothing to win
And there's no one to want me
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Didn’t Know About You

The longer I live the more I’m astounded by the beautiful music of the Great American Songbook.  You think you’ve heard all those classic songs, ones which will endure and transcend what passes as popular music today, and suddenly you hear a “new” one (at least to me), either at a jazz jam or even on the old fashioned radio. 

One would think radio is a thing of the past, all the FM stations mostly devoted to contemporary “music” until Legends Radio 100.3 FM was founded in the Palm Beaches by professional broadcaster Dick Robinson, who is also the founder of the Society for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook.  Even though local, it’s available world-wide at

I remember pulling out of our driveway one day, listening to 100.3 and hearing I Didn’t Know About You.  I said to Ann that song sounds like one by Duke Ellington.  His In a Sentimental Mood is one of my favorites. I made a mental note of the song and looked it up in one of my Jazz fake books when we returned home and sure enough, it’s by Duke Ellington, with beautiful lyrics written by Bob Russell. 

The version we heard on the radio was performed by one of a jazz favorites, Jane Monheit who we saw a couple of years ago at the Colony on Palm Beach.

I’ve incorporated I Didn’t Know About You in my own piano repertoire, and since I haven’t posted anything on YouTube in some time, I offer it here, so there is some documentation of my love of this music.  It is with profound gratitude to the great musical artists who created this body of music, loosely referred to as The Great American Songbook.  It enriches our lives. May it endure!

Monday, July 3, 2017

I Could Have Told You

One of the great joys of music is meeting different musicians and then hearing them play or sing pieces I’m not familiar with.  Wikipedia says The Great American Songbook, also known as 'American Standards', is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.  That’s enormous territory and although I’ve been playing songs from that genre for more than fifty years, I still come across new ones (to me).  Most are fun to play and some are very moving.  Such is the case with the song “I Could Have Told You” The haunting melody was written by the great James Van Heusen, a friend of Sinatra’s, and the melancholic lyrics were penned by the prolific lyricist Carl Sigman. 

The  recording became a Frank Sinatra “signature song.” The Nelson Riddle arrangement was recorded as a single on December 9, 1953 just days after Sinatra reportedly attempted suicide over his broken marriage to Ava Gardner.  No wonder it is so mournful and heartfelt and supposedly he never performed it in his endless appearances on stage. Obviously, the song conjured painful memories. It later appeared on his 1959 compilation album Look to Your Heart and another one that same year, made up of mostly sorrowful songs, No One Cares.   

It was also recorded by Bob Dylan (surprisingly to me) so if one likes his voice and style you can also find it on YouTube.  It can’t compare to Sinatra’s smooth tonality and phrasing. 

Although I probably heard the song in my years of listening to Sinatra, I didn’t have the sheet music or take note of it.  I was “introduced” to it by a singer we came across in our many visits to the Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter.  The Jupiter Jazz Society headed up by Rich and Cherie Moore has a Jazz Jam there on Sunday nights.  Rich is a very talented pianist and can play almost any style. We’re supporters of the Society and try not to miss a performance.  We learned about the Society and Double Roads from our good friend (and my bass accompanist from time to time) David Einhorn who occasionally plays there.   So one connection leads to another in the small music world and there we saw a performance by an upcoming interpreter of the Great American Songbook, Lisa Remick.

A prediction: we’ll hear a lot more from her in the future.  She’s a perfectionist, the kind of singer we really appreciate, trying to go to the heart of a song, and singing it while conveying the emotional foundation of the lyrics and the melody.  Such is her interpretation of “I Could Have Told You” on her CD, Close Enough for Love.   

Thus, I was captivated by that song on her CD. I found a lead sheet for the piano and after playing it over and over again for myself, decided to record it and upload it to YouTube trying to allow the melody to speak for itself, with my usual disclaimer that it was recorded under less than ideal conditions in my living room and using a digital camera.  I played it just one time through and one can follow the lyrics which are below. It’s a gem of a song.

I could have told you
She'd hurt you
She'd love you a while
Then desert you
If only you'd asked
I could have told you so
I could have saved you
Some crying
Yes, I could have told you she's lying
But you were in love
And didn't want to know
I hear her now
As I toss and turn and try to sleep
I hear her now
Making promises she'll never keep
And soon, it's over and done with
She'll find someone new to have fun with
Through all of my tears
I could have told you so