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July 11, 2010


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Mel House


I would rather hear the umpteenth version of a great standard than most of the original compositions I've heard, but the key is digging and finding many of the wonderful, under-performed gems that deserve to be heard. Tony Bennett, Jackie and Roy, Irene Kral, and those you mentioned surely found some!

Mel House


Unfortunately the average listener responds more readily to the familiar than to the innovative. While I'm more likely to buy a cd with original or unusual material, hearing a great interpretation of one of those classics makes me forget about how many times I've heard it before. And I love hearing someone like Tierney Sutton take an old chestnut and turn it upside down.

John P. Cooper

Having known about a half dozen female vocalists in recent years working with classic American songs, I can offer that these ladies choose they songs they like to sing...and some of them have a vast knowledge of popular song.

I am sorry to see these songs referred to a "weary".

These ladies feel they can bring something of themselves to their performances and recordings.

If the classic song interpreters of earlier decades had self-censored themselves about recording what were standards back then, we would not have some of the great interpretations we cherish today.


Tired, weary, exhausted? That's the adjetives that come to your mind when you think of the works of Berlin, Porter, Gerschwin, Weil & Co? I found it hard to believe. Had I so much new record to hear, I would use those words, but refering to me.
In my view, the problem is not with the songs but with the singers. I would pay the fortune I do not have to travel in time and hear Sinatra or Cole or Fitzgerald to sing those songs. But I won´t go next corner to hear Bublé, no matter what he sings. He must learn to phrase first.
Singing those songs was a tradition, and that tradition is lost. You are right about the recordings, but the problem comes from that lack of references, wich make singers look for an originality based on ignorance or for a simple imitation than goes no further than kitsch.
The problem with Gaga is not what she sings but that she does not know how to sing (if you are as relativist as your reggae article indicates, let's say that she does not know how to do what the composers of those songs understood by singing).
The same happens with opera singers. When you hear them today singing an opera you've heard before, you know that almost none of them would have gone further than a third class theatre 60 years ago. Of course, when the opera is a new work they can try to cheat you, since you do not know the score. But I think this is hardly the idea.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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