July 29, 2010

"Stormy Weather"

Yep, just squirmed and squinted my way through the otherwise excellent A Single Man. I can see why Colin Firth was nominated for an Academy Award. He's really good in this. I'm hesitant to use the term "transcendent," but his performance is somewhere in that neighborhood. You'd never know it was the same guy who was Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love or the dude in that Amanda Bynes movie.

Now the film was "all right," but I'm a music guy, so it's all about the music. I've always loved the 1933 Harold Arlen tune "Stormy Weather." And of all the recorded versions, I'm rather partial to Frank Sinatra's version, specifically his Columbia Records recording from the 1940s:

One thing you learn about Sinatra and Sinatra's singing style is that he pretty much stuck to the notes of the melody of whatever song he was singing. Or as he was like to say during sessions in the studio: "If it ain't on the page, don't play it." He rarely diverted from this philosophy, occasionally bending notes, especially during his later, jazzier, Reprise era recording career. So, knowing well every nuance of Frank's, it was cool hearing (for the very first time) Etta James' version from her legendary 1961 At Last! album make a crucial appearance on the movie's soundtrack. Wow! It's as if they applied an "At Last" template to the song or something:

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