George Gershwin’s “Summertime” might be the most frequently recorded song ever covered by female vocalists. There have been thousands of renditions, including classic versions by artists as talented and different as Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Joni Mitchell, not to mention male vocal and instrumental musicians by such legends as John Coltrane, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and Brian Wilson. But the finest version in all of its operatic glory must be that done by Leontyne Price. She just lets her jaw drop and wails when the song calls for it and then lets the lullaby softly purr as needed. Price nails every note. Here’s a live version from 1981, almost 30 years after she first performed it before an audience, and Price still sings the song perfectly.
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I attended a Gin Blossoms show in Kansas City last week. I couldn’t help from thinking about this: How could one name a band Gin Blossoms when only some original members remain part of it? How does one properly define a band or group nowadays? When a critical member (de)parts, does the show still go on? Are simply hits and name recognition enough, not to mention the explicit, blatant bamboozlement of a likely uninformed public?
Troubled songwriter and guitarist Doug Hopkins unfortunately killed himself in 1993, after the band terminated him; he wrote the band’s major Billboard hits “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You”. Watching singer Robin Wilson sing these songs and cheerfully work the audience, tambourine and all, was a bit unsettling to me; same goes for Hopkins’ “replacement” on guitar, Scott Johnson. But the band does have a new album due later this month.
Here is video from a show in Boston.
Julius C is a band, not a guy. Just when you thought unsigned rock acts only played for beer money, studio time or gas for their vans, these four curly-haired hipsters come along and show us they care about more than beard-grooming and ironic T-shirts. September 1 kicked off a 30-shows-in-30-days jaunt all around New York City to benefit Powerhouse, a program for homeless pregnant and parenting teen moms. And when you throw in a video featuring dancing gorillas and a catchy-as-hell power pop tune called “Don’t Want Anybody”, you might even forget that these guys are rocking out for a good cause.
For the past five years I have created playlists for myself and shared them this friend who suggested I start my blog—NewMusicMatters and now I’m also writing for PopMatters. In this era of pick and choose selections off MySpace, iTunes and such, it’s almost odd that the concept of a playlist has even survived. But there really is something about a self-contained listening session. It’s always good to start off strong with a “don’t you love how music can move you” song, maybe even enough to get up and boogie. From there I like to meander along different moods until some kind of reflective closure wraps up the playlist.
Wasn’t sure whether to call this next group late summer or early fall 2010. I know it’s not technically autumn, but the acorns are dropping and the sun isn’t shining as strong as it was a few weeks ago. It’s all about sharing the love of new music with each selection, plus of course the craft of compilation which is always fun.
Anouk Aimée ... A Man and a Woman
Ida Kaminska ... The Shop on Main Street
Lynn Redgrave - Georgy Girl
Vanessa Redgrave - Morgan!
Elizabeth Taylor - Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Bibi Andersson & Liv Ullmann ... Persona