Last week, while writing about the late Gene Lees, I pulled out a CD that Gene had sent me back in the 1990s: Yesterday I Heard the Rain: Gene Lees Sings Gene Lees, which he produced. The album features 12 songs—9 with lyrics by Gene.
When I pulled out my copy last week, out tumbled a sheet of paper folded into a square. Puzzled, I opened the square and there was a printout of an email Gene had sent me dated September 15, 1997.
Gene and I had been going back and forth by email over favorite versions of jazz songs. In my email, I had asked Gene about the origin of his lyrics to Bill Evans' Waltz for Debby. Here's Gene's reply:
"Marc: I wrote the lyric with my sister Vicky in mind. My father had once said to me, 'Did you ever watch a little girl dance, as if she could hear music in her head?' Vicky was already a teenager when I wrote the lyrics; she is 16 years my junior. So it was a memory. 'Silly old bear' is a phrase from the last volume of Winnie the Pooh. The lyrics were written in 1962 and '63. There is more story attached, nothing significant. The only version I ever really liked was by Ed Ames."
Ed Ames' version is on My Kind of Songs (RCA) from 1965. I haven't been able to locate a copy. Hopefully soon.