Driving in from the Duke football game (a 49-6 thrashing by the good guys) I put my favorite playlist into shuffle mode. Second tune up was Al Hirt and Pete Fountain doing “South Rampart Street Parade”. Dixieland music is just so much fun: I don’t understand how anyone can not like it. It’s easy, it’s carefree…just good old happy music. It requires great ensemble work and excellent soloists. Although each instrument generally plays a particular role within the group it nevertheless allows for mucho freedom of expression. Listening to this cut put me in the mood for another Pete/Al recording of “Washington & Lee Swing”, also an old Dixieland standby. In this version Pete plays tenor sax, which is quite rare among his recorded opus. But not to worry: old Pete does not disappoint. I thought about pulling up “Washington & Lee Swing” manually, but decided against it going 70 mph down I-85 at night. But serendipity stepped in and the shuffle brought up W&LS on its own. Don’t you love it when that happens?
The next song was “Begin the Beguine”, Sinatra version, which (serendipitously?) had been the first song up, except Sammy Davis version. There cannot be any doubt that Sammy was one of the great entertainers of the 20th Century, so immensely talented. He may these days be more remembered for his dancing and his impressions and clowning around with the Rat Pack, but he was an excellent singer. This cut was from an album called The Wham of Sam, which contains a ton of goodies. “Begin the Beguine” is probably one of my top 10 songs from the Great American Songbook. The words, the music, the dance theme and the rhythm are all so evocative of the scene set and the story told. Darn near a perfect song from the pen of Cole Porter.
Finally there was “Everything Happens to Me” sung by Billie Holiday. Now I’ve never been a Billie fan, but certainly acknowledge her talent as a stylist. But certain songs fit her style to a T, and this is one of them. The lyrics are so juicy:.
I make a date for golf, and you can bet your life it rains.
I try to throw a party and the guy upstairs complains.
I guess I’ll go through life, catching colds and missing planes.
Everything happens to me.
I haven’t missed a thing, I’ve had the measles and the mumps.
And every time I place an ace my partner always trumps.
I guess I’m the kind of girl who never looks before she jumps.
Everything happens to me.
Sinatra did a cover of this (he may have been the first) with Tommy Dorsey, which is also excellent. In his version he misses trains instead of planes (I prefer the train lyric, but tomato/tomahto).
Tonight’s bit of serendipity was not a one-off occurrence. It’s not unusual that I’ll think of a song and lo and behold here it comes toot suite. No doubt about it: my iTunes has got the MOJO!