Peggy Lee, songwriter. David Brent Johnson, host of WFIU-FM's Night Lights jazz show, recently re-aired his half-hour program devoted to Peggy Lee—singing the songs she wrote. That's right—wrote. As David notes in an essay that appears at his WFIU blog:
"Many listeners know Peggy Lee as a great jazz singer, but she was also a prolific writer of songs—composing or co-composing nearly 200 of them, including hits such as I Don't Know Enough About You and Manana as well as lesser-known gems like That Ol' Devil Won't Get Me and There'll Be Another Spring. She counted among her collaborators Victor Young, Cy Coleman, and husband Dave Barbour; along with Sonny Burke she also wrote the songs for the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, including The Siamese Cat Song and He's a Tramp."
Ever hear Lee sing Things Are Swingin'? It's the title track off one of my favorite Peggy albums, from 1958. David kicks off his show with the song, which hooks you instantly. Lee had a confident kittenish voice that was matched in purity only by Ella Fitzgerald's. Lee's voice could be as warm and smooth as creme brulee or as cool as crushed ice. As a songwriter, she can only be compared to Johnny Mercer.
To hear David's free, half-hour radio show, go here and click on the big blue button that says "Listen Now." You'll get a floral earful of Miss Peggy Lee and her writing all through the years.
New to JazzWax? If so, let me fill you in on the purpose of this blog. I write six days a week about jazz recordings that belong in everyone's collection. You may own some of these albums—others may be new to you.
My goal is to provide you with insights into fabulous albums and the dramatic stories behind them. For me, jazz goes beyond great art. There's a story behind the music, a film noir rich with shadows, egos, tragedies, triumphs, lucky breaks, misfortunes and larger-than-life personalities. There's a romance to jazz, a B-story if you will, that enhances and often explains the music.
Which is why I often find myself compelled to track down the jazz legends who played on these recordings and interview them for this blog. Insights from artists who were there provide an exciting dimension to the music and recordings. My feeling is that by getting to know these personalities, you wind up with a finer understanding of the "why" behind the art.
I'm not a jazz musician or record company executive. I'm a trained journalist and historian. Which means I use my research and reporting skills to produce what I hope is a fun read for both hard-core jazz fans and for those who are new to the music.
That's it. I write daily about what I love most and hope that my passion becomes your passion.
Tools of the trade. I'm frequently asked which company hosts my blog. It's Six Apart, which makes setting up a blog pretty easy. You'll still have to do the writing, or course, and there's no guarantee readers will come back the next day. But if you have the will, Six Apart has the way. If you've thought about blogging, go here to learn more about the company and about Typepad, the service I use.