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Subject: Re: Records
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 15 Feb 2018 04:50:04 +0000
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I started paying attention to music really early, mostly the musicals and pop singers (Sinatra, Sarah) that my folks had.

When I was 10, I fell head over heels in love with a petite strawberry blonde 17 year old jewish girl from New Jersey named Lesley Gore who, still a junior in high school, found herself holding a golden record for a song called “Its My Party.” She sang in tune with a nice tone quality and range. She became Quincy Jones ‘ project as a producer. To get more body in her sound, he always double tracked her which meant, given limited equipment of the day, she had to sing along precisely with a previous track of herself with matched vowels, inflections and breaths. John Lennon was terrifically impressed and wanted to learn how to do it.

My first album was “I’ll Cry if I Want To” and I wore it out. It soon became clear that I had a “thing” for girl singers because Lesley was soon joined by Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. Thinking back, most of these songs had lyrics about girls devoting their lives and energy to catching and keeping the attention of worthless, abusive men. While still 17, Lesley Gore did stand out by recording “You Don’t Own Me” which became essentially the theme song of the #metoo movement. Too bad Lesley didn’t get to see it; she died of lung cancer in 2015.

There’s definitely a puerile quality to the words of many of these songs, but some of the ones Dusty Springfield tackled in that dark, husky voice like “I Wish I’d Never Loved You” or “I Just don’t know what to do with myself” or, most of all, “I’ve been wrong before” are seriously heartbreaking. She also died young of cancer. 

In 1962, Dionne Warwick recorded the Hal David/Burt Bacharach song, “Just like me, they long to be close to you” but it was buried in an album. It was catchy - a gossamer vocal line weaving intricate rhythms over a light as air accompaniment, made slightly dramatic by a black gospel sounding vocal group joining darkly into the refrain at the end.

Some years later, The Carpenters recorded it, flattening out the rhythm, beefing up the dynamics and adding a cheesy background vocal counter line and reducing the title down to “Close to you.”  It was a megahit. I always wondered what Dionne Warwick thought about it. She was none too happy when Dusty Springfield dusted off a B side song “Wishin’ and Hopin’” and made a monster hit. But even with s similar arrangement (both done by Burt Bacharach) Dusty really took charge and owned it.

I think that a lot of what I listened for in pop and rock’n’roll really set the tone for qualities that would be prioritized for me when I moved on to listening to jazz when I was 14 (again a strong attraction to “girl singers” - Billie, Ella, Sarah, Carmen).

A lot of that, in turn, defined some mental settings that I applied when I started to listen to opera at 15, again with a favored group of “girl singers:” Callas, Tebaldi, Price and Nilsson were the first.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Feb 15, 2018, at 02:07, Mark Bartelt <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> The thing I found most interesting about this thread was how
> many people on the list have (or at least once used to have)
> very eclectic musical tastes.  Besides the mention of opera
> recordings and other classical ones, people have mentioned
> Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Joni Mitchell, and so
> on.
> 
> I used to think that Hermine and I were the only ones on the
> list whose musical interests spanned those genres in addition
> to opera and other classical genres.
> 
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