The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Art of Pop #22


Swing Me an Old Song
(Julie London)
(Liberty Records; 1959)

6 comments :

SomeNYGuy said...

An album of all PD songs? One would think Col. Tom Parker had a hand in this!

Tom Sutpen said...

Nah. The Colonel would have resorted to the all-PD thang only if there was a percentage dispute with Hill & Range (for those playing along at home, Hill & Range were the publishers of just about every lousy song Elvis Presley was saddled with throughout his career).

Brent McKee said...

You mean there's a list of songs on this album cover? Like the guy in the stripes, I'm overwhelmed by the pulchritude displayed by the former Mrs. Jack Webb.

SomeNYGuy said...

She was truly a living doll, and made a handful of really lovely, haunting records. (Did she have first crack at "Girl Talk," or did Joanie Sommers get there ahead of her?)

VP81955 said...

Julie London's best records were made with small, guitar-led combos (as in the 1955 album "Julie Is Her Name," featuring her best-known song, "Cry Me A River"; 1956's "Lonely Girl"; and 1958's "Julie Is Her Name, Vol. 2"). Large orchestras usually overwhelmed her intimace vocals, and albums under those auspices generally weren't as interesting.

Later in her career (1965), she did an excellent album of Cole Porter songs with the Bud Shank Quintet, but that was the exception rather than the rule. By then, she was usually reduced to covering hits of the day in versions that added little, if anything.

Damien said...

I agree by and large with the comment above. I will say, though, that her sort of quirky jazz combo album "Julie" (1958) is also quite good. Even "Make Love to Me" (1958) although with an orchestra is produced such that her vocals are very warm and up front, with the accompaniment more a distant background. Also, don't forget "Julie...at Home" (1960), which is a very intimate, informal sounding collection with a small jazz combo (supposedly recorded in her own living room, though I doubt that...).

I agree with the assessment of her 1960's work, though. From 1962-1964, she put out a rash of what I refer to as her "drunken housewife" albums, blandly (and usually drunkenly) covering the hits of the moment. In addition to "All Through the Night" (1965) which is an usually good record for that era in her career, I have always found "For the Night People" (1966) to be very jazz/bluesy and quite good as well.

Just my three cents on the matter