It’s never a bad time to hear songs from the Great American Songbook.
For years, I have had 5 radio station presets on my car radio. WUTK, 90.3 “The Rock,” WUOT,91.9; WNCW, 88.7 Spindale, NC (near Asheville); WKTI, 1040am (for years they played “Great American Songbook” tunes, but are now classic country- which ain’t a bad thing either) and CFZM-AM 740, Toronto, which after dark can often be heard playing music from the Big Band era. The two AM stations feed my hunger for the music that my parents grew up with- Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown; from a time when houses were white and cars were black. It’s as if these stations broadcast this music in the 40's and it went out into space and is only now just returning to Earth.
It was there in my car, listening to the radio while ferrying our boys hither and yon that I was introduced to Michael Feinstein and his interpretations of tunes from the “Great American Songbook.” Feinstein is a pedigreed descendant of the Greatest Generation of American songwriters, having endeared himself to Ira Gershwin while cataloguing Ira’s giant record collection. (Gershwin’s next-door neighbor, Rosemary Clooney, performed one of her last concerts in Knoxville in 2001). This latter-day Oscar Levant will perform a revue of Frank Sinatra essentials at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium this Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8. Come see why this music, some of which was written to make people happy “for the duration,” has endured way beyond. Until you do, here are a couple of fine recordings to get you In the Mood. I really like the Helen Forrest/Artie Shaw vid because it loads instantly! (don't be intimidated by the Russian). And this luscious recording of (not-so-)Old Blue-Eyes will bring a tear to your eye. Especially if you were there.