Friday, January 16, 2015

"Summertime" by Annie Lennox

I have been a huge fan of Annie Lennox ever since she and Dave Stewart burst on to the scene as Eurythmics. I saw their very first tour here in the United States in 1983 and witnessed first hand Annie's glittering, ferocious live persona (one reviewer at the time called her a "hissing, spitting wild cat" on stage!). Over the years she has only become more masterful and in control. She may have mellowed a bit but she has lost none of her intensity.

So I was thrilled when a dear friend gifted me for Christmas Annie's newest release, "Nostalgia," a collection of jazz and vocal standards. Now, lest one think that this is a Linda Ronstadt moment slavishly trying to recreate the sound of a bygone era, or even worse, a Rod Stewart moment trying to play to a demographic who will coo and sigh over these songs because a younger generation won't listen to you anymore, Annie's release is a glorious collection of songs interpreted by a master vocalist. She explores these songs and their meanings exactly the way the greats--Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald--used to, with open emotions and open heart. Annie is not trying to recreate a sound or an era with these songs, she is simply feeling and singing them. Which is pretty stunning.

And I think possibly the most stunning song of all on "Nostalgia" is the touching, painfully melancholic "Summertime," the 1935 Gershwin song written for "Porgy and Bess." I have a soft spot for this song... I grew up hearing my mom sing this. And in fact, I have a recording I made from an original 78 vinyl record of my mom, at sixteen years old, singing this song with a lone piano. She made the recording, along with a few other songs, when she was auditioning for talent shows and bands. Annie's poignant, insightful version is sweet agony.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeff,

Beautiful ! Thanks for sharing. Another proof that talent doesn't go away with age. On the contrary...deeper, more interiority.