Extract from 'Versions'
A book that reviews various recordings of songs taken from 'The Great American Songbook'
My father, who loved popular songs, jazz and big band music, encouraged me to really listen to a song. He could have instrumental music playing softly in the background and do other things, but if there were words involved, he just sat there and listened.
I have grown up to be the same, but even more so. I cannot even have music playing if I am trying to work.
My tastes in music are pretty catholic: I can listen to Mozart, Bach or Beethoven, and immediately afterward put on a CD of Oscar Peterson playing jazz piano exclusively for his friends, or maybe Miles Davis swinging with John Coltrane.
However, over time, I keep returning to vocalists, whether ‘jazz’ or not, singing the great American standards from the pens of Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George and Ira Gershwin, to name merely a few.
Then there are the singers themselves. The same song can sound totally different, depending on the singer and arrangement.
In this book I have chosen 23 of the best American songs and considered some of the recorded performances now available, giving, from my point of view, a recommendation as to which of those are worth listening to.
Let me stress, here and now, that this is very much a personal choice.
If you don’t agree, well, I’ll respect your opinion, assuming you will respect mine.