Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oldies But Goodies

Tonight's Oldies But Goodies was a special request of my old man, Big J. I suppose since he just turned 63 years old this past week he is feeling a bit nostalgic and young at heart so he busted out As Time Goes By: The Best of Jimmy Durante and asked me to give it a spin and review this week and who am I to not allow this young man's dreams to come true?

Big J's eyes lit up as he handed me the broken cd case last night. The case was barely holding itself together by one tab and he asked me to handle with care. "Every single song on this album is a classic," he said, "well, everyone of them but 'Hi Lili, Hi Lo,' that one is pretty bad." We proceeded to discuss the career of Jimmy over a bowl of ice cream and I hate to be the Cliff Clavin, Crazy Sue, but I was right. Jimmy did indeed narrate and sing in the 1969 animated Frosty the Snowman. Burl Ives was Sam the Snowman, the narrator of the animated Rudolph, sorry.

As Time Goes By is an album of old pop and jazz standards. I have always been slightly amused and/or fascinated by the fact that every singer in the 40's - 60's would basically record the same songs and each have his/her take on a classic. I couldn't help but think of some other versions of these songs as I listened to Jimmy sing. His voice isn't going to win any awards for most polished or most pleasant to the ear but there is an endearing quality that makes his versions of these songs infectious and fun to hear. The title track as well as Make Someone Happy were both featured in the film Sleepless In Seattle. Smile is one of Wheels' all time favorite songs because of a brief obsession with Charlie Chaplin after taking a silent film class in college. Young At Heart and I'll Be Seeing You are staples of American Popular Music and I feel like his recording of Young At Heart might be the best ever put to tape or vinyl. His playful singing reminds us of the Grandpa we hopefully had and now desperately miss. Give these songs a listen and I'll be shocked if they don't put a smile on your face, some joy in your heart and a hop in your step. I was also kind enough to remove Hi Lily from the playlist, just as Big J would want it. Mr. Durante you truly are an Oldie But Goodie. And with that, all there is left to say is, 'Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.'


Corbie said...

Great post, Cliff...Big J must be proud.

Kim said...

Ahhh memories. Good tunes.

I figure I better come comment, since dad called me yesterday to berate for not expressing appreciation, thus encouraging such future posts.

Your turn, dad. Stop using your lack of computer savvy as a crutch. What you going to do when Kirk blogs about Nat King Cole?

Herms said...

If I am ever asked to compile a family video, with editing and music, these songs always have to be high on the list to consider. You can't listen to these songs and not see in your mind the old footage on the 16mm with NO sound family videos that seem slightly faster than they should because the reel to reel projector has seen better days.


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