February 21, 2013

Jazz Love: Cy Coleman (2)

Oh, Cy Coleman, you are perfect. When I first heard "Why Try to Change Me Now" I was instantly in love, and I couldn't fathom how I had missed out on that incredible song. Now that I've read a little more and studied his canon a little more, I am inclined to think I probably wasn't really old enough to fall in love with his songs.

I've actually always meant to write a piece about his most famous and recognizable song, "The Best is Yet to Come." I hated that song when I was a kid, even though I had every single line from that entire Sinatra album memorized, I would always skip that one tune. I don't think I could comprehend that particular kind of sensuality in music. Any young girl can understand both the melancholy and vague, misty longing of slow jazz standards, as well as the funner, more whimsical bits of love that inspire upbeat jazz standards. But sensuality was still a foreign feeling/attitude. (I was 9, so that's probably a good thing.)

As an adult, I stumbled on Sinatra's "The Best is Yet to Come" again, and loved it, which got me wondering about this question of sensuality in Jazz. It's really a fantastic song; a perfect expression of the blossoming of a relationship, where interest and chemistry mix into something thrilling.

I think all of Coleman's songs share a certain maturity -- they tow the line between the imagination of the lover and love's reality. In "I Walk a Little Faster," what could be desperately sad ("build a little stronger castle in the air") is actually hopeful.

As for the videos below: the Tony Bennet video animation is odd, but it's the only one I could find. I like it in a male voice, so I am including it anyway. Blossom Dearie's is, well, dear, and, if it weren't for the great piano, I think perhaps it'd be too twee. How she manages to tow that line all the time, I honestly don't know. Beverly Kenney's version is a little more whimsical. The Fiona Apple recording is live, and therefore full of her particular brand of crazy, but I do love the genuine melancholy in her voice.

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