Posts Tagged ‘vocal’
25 Aug

Week 224: “Gee But I’d Like To Make You Happy” by The Boswell Sisters



Being a professional entertainer is probably tough in any era, but can you imagine trying to carve out an existence as an entertainer in the 1930s? The world is in the grip of the worst economic depression of all time, and your job is to put on a great big smile and try to bring some joy to an audience who can barely afford the price of admission.

To my ears, American music of the 1930s is pretty similar to the music of the much-more-prosperous 1920s. If anything, it’s even happier. More euphorically upbeat, as if the country’s soaring unemployment rate and bread lines weren’t happening. Not sure if it’s denial or optimism, but I like it.

The Boswell Sisters are a wonderful example of the between-the-wars sound in America, and this song in particular never fails to make me smile. Sure, the lyrics are silly, but there’s just something so gosh-darned wholesome about it all. How could anyone resist a song with the word “gee” in the title?

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The way they imitate a horn section at the opening.

2. The way they throw in triplets at 2:08.

3. The harmonies are delicious. What is it about three-sister musical acts?

Recommended listening activity:

Looking dapper.

17 Sep

Week 123: “Pour Que L’Amour Me Quitte” by Camille


Camille is strange.

But it’s a good strange. It’s the kind of strange that draws you in against your better judgment. Like the lure of a hole in a fence around a construction site. Or the pull of a person who, according to your friends, is no good for you.

As a singer, Camille sounds alternately like Bjork, Coeur De Pirate, Sarah Slean, Bobby McFerrin, and occasionally an angry pterodactyl. And I mean that in the best possible way; she uses her voice in such a variety of ways that there’s something in her work for everyone. This song features her “soft and friendly” voice, which is nice for people like me, who shy away from angry pterodactyl music.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The sustained note. If you listen closely, you can hear her voice holding a B throughout the whole track. And if B is your favourite note, you’re in luck: the note is held for the entirety of “Le Fil”, the album that this song comes from.

2. The arpeggios. They’re the only thing dictating the song’s tempo or chord structure, and the way they dance around the sustained B is lovely.

3. The ambiguous meaning. Most internet translations/interpretations suggest that the song is about letting go of love, but whether she’s singing from the wreckage of an ended relationship or the death of a loved one remains unclear.

Recommended listening activity:

Putting new laces in an old pair of shoes.

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