Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We Interrupt This Rock Blog for a Little Ella Worship...


I remember the first time I heard Ella Fitzgerald. I was in college, it was Christmas vacation, and I was at the home of my friend Padraig's parents, sitting in their sunny living room, surrounded by green leafy houseplants and African art. Padraig was debuting a new mix tape (and yes, our medium was mix *tapes* even in the late '90s), and we were only half paying attention as we chatted...until I heard Ella's lovely voice sing these words:

"I'll sing to him, each spring to him/And worship the trousers that cling to him/Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I/When he talks, he is seeking/Words to get, off his chest/Horizontally speaking, he's at his very best..."

I remember laughing out loud because this very classy-sounding jazz song, performed so bittersweetly, had hilariously dirty lyrics for its day. Not only that, but it perfectly summed up almost all of my experience with love (aside from Mr. Maise, of course): wild infatuation leading only to disillusionment and coldness:

"Lost my heart, but what of it/He is cold, I agree/He can laugh, but I love it/Although the laugh's on me..."

"Wise at last, my eyes at last,/ Are cutting you down to your size at last/Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - no more..."

Girls, whether you're hopelessly in love or whether the thought of your ex makes you cringe, you should have "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in heavy rotation.

Anyway, that was the beginning of my love affair with Ella Fitzgerald, and she has never disappointed. Now apparently, she's back on the U.S. pop charts for the first time in 38 years with the album, Love Letters from Ella. And to celebrate that fact, here are some YouTube clips of some of my favorite Ella songs.

Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra: "The Lady Is a Tramp"--although I prefer the version on my "Best of the Songbooks" album, how can you argue with adding Sinatra? This is one of my absolute favorite songs EVER...no matter how dumpy and stuck in a rut I feel, this song always makes me happy. Instead of commuting back and forth to work, I feel as though I'm hanging out in a nightclub in New York with Truman Capote and his friends.

Ella singing "Mack the Knife." I have a version at home where she's singing live in Berlin and forgets the lyrics; then she improvises hilariously and saves the song. You can hear some of that in this version, when she says, "Ella and her fellas/are making a wreck of/Mack the Knife." Anyway, this version is just as awesome.

Oh, and I had to link to this one for Gabriel, Iris, and Dierdre, if she's out there.

If you've never really listened to Ella before, I hope you'll give her a chance. Even if you're just cleaning the house with her singing in the background, you'll feel just a little more fabulous. As though you're doing something more fun, with a martini in your hand.


21 comments:

Iris said...

Damn Maise. That last video. I've got goosebumps and teary eyes. I can't tell if it's just her voice or thoughtful reminiscing...very powerful. Have I told you I love you yet today?

Now will someone pass the tissues?

Gabriel said...

GAY

JR said...

Ugh, Ella is so CLICHE.

maise said...

JR, that's like saying, the Beatles are a cliche, or Mozart is a cliche, or water is a cliche.

JR said...

Don't get me started on the motherfucking Beatles.

JR said...

And correction: water is played out.

Goddamit.

maise said...

News flash! JR hates puppies, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and board games.

JR said...

Why does having an opinion always make me the bad girl?

maise said...

Oh, don't act all innocent. Like we don't know what your game is, JR. After all, Angelman spelled it all out for us earlier.

JR said...

That was, if I remember correctly, entitled "overview". He did not speak to what "my game" is.

Lavender said...

You're killing me JR.
I thought we really connected.
I LOVE the Beatles.

Iris said...

Oh don't pay her much mind Lavender. She's just upset with how much her pet band Crowded House gets compared to the Beatles sound. Just Google the two names to see. JR's only got eyes for Neil Finn.

The Bitch said...

"Fever" is my favorite Ella song. She has such an awesome voice.

Maybe Jr is just too young to appreciate the greats.

My Grandfather is shocked every time I mention a singer that he grew up listening to. He thinks my generation is all about pop crap.

The Bitch said...

I forgot to add...

One of my grandfather's favorite artists is Johnny Cash. He thought that Hurt was the most poignant song of Johnny's Career.

I didn't say anything about who wrote it. I was sure he wouldn't believe me.

JR said...

Yeah, I'm too young to appreciate the greats...by about 50 years! I'm not even close to retirment.

And I've got way more than eyes for Neil Finn, Iris.

maise said...

Thanks for the support, Bitch!

Too bad JR lets her AGEISM prevent her from knowing what's good.

JR said...

Don't blame my AGE, Maise.

Blame my TASTE for telling me what's good or bad.

maise said...

Well, if you're hating on Ella Fitzgerald, then CLEARLY your taste is OFF.

pokeydots said...

Maise, I like to read about your good memories. I love Ella, especially Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. She also did a great job on Miss Otis Regrets on The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books. Check out that song – it’s great! After getting all hot and bothered, she eventually shoots her lover dead and can’t make it to lunch with the gals because she is carted off to jail. Ella does a classic version of Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye. My favorite part of the song – There’s no love song finer, but how strange the change from major to minor…

maise said...

Another one of hers that I absolutely adore is "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," which is in my "Best of" collection. Even in the middle of August, it makes me want to go Christmas shopping on the Mag Mile.

And I do love "Miss Otis Regrets." Such a dark little song!

pokeydots said...

Let's not forget her and Louis's famous interpretation of Let's Call The Whole Thing Off. hint.