I’ve been accused of liking music by people already dead. Think I have to plead guilty to that charge. But the music in question is not that of composers long dead, but rather music of the early to mid 20th century, music by people like Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter, Tommy Dorsey and Jo Stafford. Sure, there are times when this old stuff is out of place, but possibly the best time for this kind of music is on a Sunday afternoon when the clock is unimportant and when you’re happy to be at home with no special plans.
Could it be the implied innocence of the old music that makes it so attractive? In comparison, much of contemporary music carries a hint of angst, or even anger. Much of the popular music today has an edge that pricks or scratches at the listener to the point of irritation. There is rarely this kind of edginess in older music of the 1940s and 50s. I suspect that’s why I have a collection of music by ‘dead people.’
This afternoon I put a stack of CDs in the player, and for the most part it was the music of people no longer alive. Seemed perfect for the kind of afternoon I had in mind.
• Frank Sinatra, I’ve Got a Crush on You: This is a collection of Sinatra songs recorded in his early 20s. A couple of the song titles are, “Time After Time” and “Fools Rush in.”
• Soundtrack from the 2001 movie, Gosford Park, music by Patrick Doyle. The story is set in an English country house in the 1930s.
• Soundtrack from the 2004 movie, De-Lovely, music by Cole Porter. This one is a bio-pic of the composer’s life (1891-1964), with lots of living singers performing well-known Cole Porter classics.
• Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester: Live at Carnagie Hall. This is a German singer who mostly sings older material. Two examples on this CD are “Moon of Alabama” and “Ich mir bist Du schoen,” which the Andrew Sisters also recorded back in the 1940s.
(A big thanks to Kagemusha at Frequency of Silence for introducing me to Max Raabe.)