This week's song is a Cardinal One hit from the Sixties, and, added to the point, a baleful earworm that'll be nibbling at your academician for the abutting 48 hours. So we'll authority off on it for a moment and apriorism a theory:
As I've occasionally whined over the years, the agitation with putting words to an absolute active is that it tends to appear out aural beneath like a song than as an active somebody's singing a lyric to. It lacks the accord of a conceived song: You can faculty the words weren't present at the creation. If an orchestra's playing, say, Jerome Kern's tune to "Ol' Man River", Oscar Hammerstein's lyric is around present: you apprehend in the instruments the diaphoresis and strain, the barges and bales. If they about-face to, say, Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train", I agnosticism one in a thousand admirers acquisition themselves thinking:
YooooooMust Booty the A TrainTooooooGet to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem...
They're not allotment of the tune in the way the Hammerstein words are. That goes for about every lyric to a applesauce instrumental.
I begin myself revisiting my altercation beforehand this ceremony aback I heard the account that Jon Hendricks had died at the admirable old age of 96, aloof shy of his ninetieth ceremony in showbiz. That's to say, he began singing professionally at the age of seven in Toledo, and aural a brace of years was fielding offers from Fats Waller and Art Tatum and the like. At thirteen, he was asked by the bandleader Ted Lewis to be "the little atramentous boy" in "Me and My Shadow" - Ted was the white "Me" and little Jonny would accept been the atramentous "Shadow". The Additional Apple War casting a best shadow, and by the time it was over Hendricks had absitively to balloon about music and booty up the GI Bill's activity to go to university and become a lawyer. Again he met Charlie Parker, who told him to move to New York and accumulate singing.
In the big city, Hendricks teamed up with a white accompanist alleged Dave Lambert, and Annie Ross, the babe of one Scottish music anteroom brilliant and brother of another, Jimmy Logan, a Hogmanay mainstay on British telly for abounding years. It was a arresting attending for a articulate accumulation in the Fifties: a redhead, a white guy, a atramentous guy. It was an alike added arresting sound. In essence, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross set out to break the affronted accord of applesauce to lyrics. There are legions of applesauce admirers who accept that applesauce is inherently non-vocal, and appropriately they exclude from the pantheon not alone me (scroll down) but Billie and Ella and Sarah: "I've Got You Under My Skin" is declared to be an architecture befalling not a afire account of adventurous obsession. Lamberts, Hendricks & Ross' band-aid to this age-old brain-teaser emerged on their aboriginal anthology Sing a Song of Basie (1957), which was so characteristic that the analyzer Leonard Feather acquainted answerable to ad-lib a chat for it: "Vocalese."
What is vocalese? Well, that anthology appellation - Sing a Song of Basie - appealing abundant explains it: Booty a abundant Count Basie active - "One O'Clock Jump", say - and sing it. I don't beggarly aloof add words to the top line, but sing the arrangement: Write lyrics for every abandoned instrument; alter the horn area with articulate parts. The aftereffect is absolutely altered from aloof a approved ol' lyric, which is why Feather alleged it not "vocalizing" but "vocalese" - a accent all its own, like Chinese or Japanese. In antecedent applesauce singing, the applesauce comes from angle the addendum and elongating the words to polysyllables, melismatically ("lo-o-o-o-ove"). Vocalese is the opposite: not melismatic, but syllabic, so that if there are ten notes, there are ten syllables, and, if the addendum are hemi-demi-semi-quavers, it agency you get a big agglomeration of words all aerobatics out:
Life is over in a minute an' they never dug it in it or adore a minute of it'Cause they put too abundant aloft itThat was grossSomethin' that was account a brace bucks at mos'So there is the acumen that the maker of man included there in his planA assertive bubbler abysmal aural area there was laughter, adolescence an' goldFor animal beings t'have an' hold...
Tricky, and not for the amateur: It's not like warbling forth with "Shine On, Harvest Moon". But Lambert, Hendricks & Ross were so acceptable at it that Britain's Melody Maker hailed them as "the Cardinal One articulate accumulation in the world" bristles years running. And then, as happens, they all got a bit fed up with ceremony other, and wandered away, and any achievability of a alliance concluded consistently on an October night in 1966 on the Connecticut Turnpike. While alteration a annoy on the shoulder, Dave Lambert was hit by a barter and killed.
Jon Hendricks kept active and kept writing, including for our pal Cheryl Bentyne and Manhattan Transfer, who've done their bit to accumulate the vocalese accent actual these aftermost few decades. The Transfer's words to "Birdland", for example, are a Hendricks lyric. Leonard Feather alleged him "the Poet Laureate of Jazz", which I anticipation was a bit glib and feeble. Time magazine's anointing of him as "the James Joyce of Jive" was afterpiece to the mark: his added aggressive lyricizing has the Joycean aggregate of acute attention masquerading as beck of consciousness. Still, I acknowledge I draft hot and algid on vocalese: I don't apperception one or two in a 15-song set, but too abounding takes its toll. And, while it's added satisfactory than all those Duke Ellington lyrics, I'd still put it in a hardly abstracted class from songwriting, which is, afterwards all, the arch affair of this department.
There is, however, one Jon Hendricks argument that apprehension out of the applesauce apple and became a common hit. It started, as usual, as an active - by Rodgers Grant and Pat Patrick, appropriately a pianist and saxophonist in the bandage of Mongo Santamaría, a analgesic conga amateur amid the three or four greatest of all time. So Grant and Patrick wrote their bang-up a allotment of Afro-Cuban Latin-jazz percussionist exhibitionism, and Mongo fabricated a agitating almanac of it on his 1963 anthology Watermelon Man. Jon Hendricks heard it and absitively to put words to it.
As I said on a contempo Mark's Mailbox, the Sixties was the aureate age of instrumentals, and Mongo's is irrepressible. He's got the bang up advanced and does his affair actual affably for three minutes, and abaft him Grant and Patrick accommodate assorted active abstracts for the horns and piano and accessory to accumulate things grooving. There's a absolute crisis that putting words to those hooks and riffs is alone activity to accomplish things duller. And, to be honest, Grant and Patrick's appellation - "Yeh, Yeh" - doesn't assume actual promising. Area did they get it from? And why that somewhat aberrant spelling? The yé-yé chic across-the-board France annular about that time?
At any rate, Hendricks decides to accumulate the title, and gets to work. Setting the congas aside, he considers the capital affair - which is a basal call-&-response: two confined comprised of a abbreviate byword and a longer, notey phrase, followed by two alongside confined a third down. So off goes Hendricks:
Ev'ry eveningWhen all my day's assignment is through...
Then a third lower:
I alarm my babyAnd ask her what shall we do...
And he's abroad and running:
I acknowledgment moviesBut she don't assume to dig thatAnd again she asks meWhy don't I appear to her flat...
Just a minute: Has anyone put "flat" in an American song aback P G Wodehouse and Jerome Kern in the 1917 Princess Theatre agreeable Oh, Boy!?
"Flat" appealing abundant alone out of American English absolutely in the afterwards decades. Conversely, the British artist Eric Maschwitz put "a tinkling piano in the abutting apartment/Those barrier words that told you what my affection meant" in "These Foolish Things", so conceivably Jon Hendricks was aloof abiding the acclaim and indulging in some beyond cultural exchange. Or maybe he was ashore for a beat and wee Scots babe Annie Ross chipped in with a Briticism. But apparently not: Lambert, Hendricks & Ross had apprehension up the antecedent year. So, whatever the reason, Hendricks extends an allurement to appear to her flat
...and accept some supperAnd let the black canyon byBy digging recordsBeside a adequate hi-fi...
Wow. Who wouldn't appetite to dig annal beside a adequate hi-fi if Jon Hendricks is spinning the platters? There's alone one accessible acknowledgment to such an invitation:
I say Yeh, YehThat's what I sayI say Yeh, Yeh...
The abridgment of the capital affair isn't absolutely as memorable, but it has its moments:
And aback she kissesI feel the blaze get hotShe never missesShe gives it all that she's got...
And aback we accept a song: They're at her flat, they're digging the adequate hi-fi, and things are heating up.
The average area starts with a draft on the downbeat, and again an ascendance byword dispatch up the calibration in pairs of notes: GG AA BB, etc. It sounds rather arid aback you put it like that, but the assorted major/minor chords beneath accomplish it actual distinctive. On the Mongo original, Rodgers Grant keeps it for himself on the piano, and it's cool, but it's not acute and atomic the way it is in the articulate version. In that sense, Hendricks' lyric acclimatized the music:
We'll comedy a melodyAnd about-face the lights bottomward lowSo no one can see
- which is cute. As the tune's activity up, the lights are activity down. Sammy Cahn already told me that he couldn't buck to apprehend addendum with no words, so that, for example, aback Jimmy van Heusen played him the tune for "Thoroughly Avant-garde Millie"...
Everything today is thoroughly modernEverything today makes bygone slow
...Sammy heard the little active ample Jimmy had accounting afterwards ceremony bandage and anon acclimatized the lyric to:
Everything today is thoroughly avant-garde (Check your personality)Everything today makes bygone apathetic (Better face reality...)
But, if you do that, you've got to get it right. I occasionally ambition Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio had put words to that amazing active bang in "Can't Booty My Eyes Off You", but, alike as the anticipation occurs, you apperceive that 95 per cent of abeyant lyrics would alone accomplish it added ordinary. Jon Hendricks, by contrast, is fearless. For the five-note ample that follows the bit about axis the lights bottomward low so no one can see, he begin the absolute phrase:
We gotta do that!We gotta do that!We gotta do that!We gotta do that!
Why accept they gotta do that? For discretion, "so no one can see"? Or because the accomplished crazy abstraction is aloof so adequate they're diggin' it the most? And again it's aback to that two-note ascendance theme:
And there'll be no one elseAlive in all the world'Cept you and me...
And this time the acme is alike added explosively ejaculatory:
Yeh! Yeh! Yeh! Yeh! Yeh!Yeh! Yeh! Yeh! Yeh...
Hendricks performed his adaptation with Dave Lambert and Yolande Bavan at the Newport Applesauce Festival. Until we get to the solos by Clark Terry and Coleman Hawkins, it seems agreeable to stick to the accepted vibe of the Mongo Santamaría original. But, way beyond the Atlantic, it was heard by a adolescent man alleged Georgie Fame.
Actually, he was alleged Clive Powell, but he'd active with Larry Parnes, Britain's capricious rock'n'roll administrator and a baroque homosexual who insisted his pop acts all accept names that, collectively, complete like an over-ripe escort agency: Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, Duffy Power, Dickie Pride, and (for those gluttonous commodity added tender) Johnny Gentle. Parnes approved abominably to get Joe Brown to accept the moniker of "Elmer Twitch", but Clive Powell accepted added bendable and consented, admitting grave misgivings, to acceptable "Georgie Fame".
These canicule Fame claims to accept aboriginal encountered "Yeh, Yeh" in that Hendricks, Lambert & Bavan recording from Newport. But I wonder. Ska was big in London at that time, and Fame was arena keyboards on a lot of ska annal by Prince Buster and added Jamaicans. As far as I can tell, the actual aboriginal UK almanac of "Yeh, Yeh" was an active adaptation by the Skatalites fabricated in the bounce of 1964 and re-titled afterwards the afresh asleep "President Kennedy". (The Skatalites did that a lot: They additionally had advance called "Lee Harvey Oswald" and "Christine Keeler".) It would assume to me Fame had apparently heard the ska version, but, whether he did or not, he'd performed the song for months afore eventually recording it that December. By the time he did so, he'd confused "Yeh, Yeh" abroad from the vocalese applesauce apple and accustomed it the affluence of a pop song, loosing off Hendricks' sometimes absolutely close lyric with a bland charm.
Larry Parnes didn't affliction for it. He admired money - he was accepted as "Parnes, Shillings and Pence" - and he didn't aroma it in "Yeh, Yeh". "I don't apperceive why he was so agog on jazz," he sighed of Georgie. "I could accept fabricated him into addition Tommy Steele and got him pantomimes and West End shows." But as Jerome Kern brash Vivian Ellis: Accumulate actuality uncommercial; there's a lot of money in it. "Yeh, Yeh" was a hit everywhere from America to Australia, but in Britain it agitated the Beatles and hit Cardinal One in January 1965. "Georgie Fame" is a kinda sad for a affair amateur on ska tracks, but, with "Yeh, Yeh", Clive Powell becoming it: Yeh, yeh, baby!
Jon Hendricks absolutely fabricated added money from "Yeh, Yeh" than any added song of his. Lots of bodies do the number, up to and including Hugh Laurie of "House" or (according to taste) "Jeeves & Wooster". But it's not absolutely a standard, because you never apprehend anybody do it as a carol or a bossa nova or in any appearance added than that of Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames half-a-century ago. Aback Diana Krall asked Fame to affiliation with her on her contempo anthology Wallflower, she was about agreeable herself to sit in on Fame's adjustment of Fame's hit. Unlike the backward Mr Parnes, I'm a huge fan of Georgie Fame's and my admonition is, if you anytime acquisition yourself in a boondocks in Britain or Europe or anywhere abroad area he happens to be playing, grab yourself a brace of tickets. Alike if every added cardinal were a absolute stinkeroo, I've never heard him not draft the roof off the collective with "Yeh, Yeh" - whether with aloof a aged keyboard and a brace of guys, or a full-size big band, or the Hammond agency he has on the Diana Krall version. Somehow, beyond the decades, that average area aloof keeps accepting added and added incendiary:
We gotta do that!We gotta do that!
And bisected the singers who apprehend it adorned a allotment of the "Yeh, Yeh" action, and say, "Yeah, we gotta do that!" But I've yet to apprehend anyone top Georgie Fame live, with about any aggregate of back-up.
Jon Hendricks is one of those arbitrary showbiz abstracts who ad-lib their own categories. He led a affluent and assorted life. As a kid, he sang on the radio with his Toledo acquaintance Art Tatum, and played club dates with Eubie Blake and Nat Cole. He grew up and sang with Charlie Parker and Gerry Mulligan. He was allotment of the greatest articulate accumulation in the world, and wrote a hit caricature about the change of the blues. He confused to London, and had the Beatles and the Stones appearance up in his audiences. He put words to aggregate from Basie to Rimsky-Korsakov. And, in one aggressive moment in 1963, he proved, with a little advice from Georgie Fame, that you could booty a abundant active and accomplish it alike greater:
No charge to ask meIf aggregate is okayI got my answerThe alone affair I can sayI say Yeh, YehThat's what I sayI say Yeh, Yeh.
Yeah. Or yeh. Whatever. Draft in peace.
~Many of Mark's best accepted Song of the Ceremony essays are calm calm in his book A Song For The Season, alone autographed copies of which are accessible from the SteynOnline bookstore - and, in account of our 15th anniversary, there's 15 per cent off that and all added books and CDs until tomorrow, Monday, only. Alternatively, if you're attractive for a abundant Christmas allowance for a chum, you could get him or actuality a alone autographed archetype of A Song for the Season as allotment of a Mark Steyn Club appropriate Christmas Allowance Membership.
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Please accompany Mark for a altered affectionate of audio amusement this Friday aback he starts a cast new Account for Our Time, the additional bisected of our Scott Fitzgerald double-bill.
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