Friday, April 11, 2014

The Nearness of You

For the last several weeks I've been sitting-in at a Monday evening jam session at the Parkwood in Maplewood, NJ. The repertoire centers on "the Great American Songbook", as it's called. A vocalist named Jay likes to sit in as well, and he likes ballads. He's done "The Nearness of You" several times now. I've heard the song, of course, but it's not in my repertoire. However, after hearing Jay sing it two or three times I find it running around in my mind's ear without any prompting from me. It's just there.

It's about to enter my repertoire. To that end I've been listening to versions on Youtube. Here's one by Sinatra, whose repertoire all but defined the Great American Songbook:

Here's a version by Sarah Vaughn, also known as The Voice. Notice that she sings the opening verse, which is generally dropped by most performers:

Here's an instrumental version by Josh Redman, tenor sax, and Brad Meldhau, piano (almost 13 minutes):

And now for something different, a version by the bad boys of rock 'n roll, the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards takes the vocal, sounding a bit like Willie Nelson:

I can't imagine that they'd have performed this song back in the 60s or 70s. Their fans wouldn't have tolerated it, and, for that matter, it might not have interested them either. But by the 90s they've mellowed out a bit, and their fans too. And so it's become cool for them to try on Sinatra's repertoire.

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