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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
29 March 2004
Various Artists, The Original Great American Songbook (UTV)
Thank Rod Stewart for making the Great American Songbook cool again, at least among the set who grew up with Maggie May and who don't remember these songs the first time around. Included are such renowned interpreters of modern songcraft as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and, um, Johnny Mathis (?). Despite what reactionaries might say, these songs are not more profound or even more literate than the best rock (How many songs here reference capitalized Literature as effectively as the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" references Thomas Hardy?). But, in gracefully chronicling the universal travails of love found, won, lost, and remembered, these songs, like Tennyson finding the exact words to express vague thoughts, almost make a virtue out of being shallow.
.: posted by Editor 5:30 PM