Okay, I know this isn’t strictly movie-related, but in honor of the late, great Ella Fitzgerald’s would-be 98th birthday today, I felt a post was warranted anyway.
I enjoy most kinds of music, but at the end of the day my heart belongs to the jazz and “easy listening” tunes from the 1940s-1960s. It’s just hard to top those beautiful old standards penned by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and the other fantastic composers of the Great American Songbook. While many artists recorded their own versions of these songs, my favorite artist from this period will always be Ella Fitzgerald. Her career spanned an incredible SIXTY YEARS. And I mean ALL of sixty years, not like twenty years with an embarrassing, “Hey, I still exist!” comeback tour when she ran out of money. The lady was truly amazing.
I once stumbled across her entire CD discography at Half Price Books (oh yeah…CDs, baby), and for the seriously questionable price of ten dollars (?!) they all became mine. I imported them into my iTunes for easier, more rapid-fire consumption, and that gargantuan playlist was quite literally THE ONLY THING that would coax my 8-week-old Anatolian shepherd (Etta, after Etta James of course. All of the sass…all of the disregard for societal norms) into settling the heck down at night and going to sleep. Seriously, it was like a magical Pan Flute. Upon hearing it she would fall into a deep, coma-like slumber, and if the music ever stopped during the night (computer dying, etc) she would immediately wake back up, start crying, and poop on the floor. I kid you not.
You would think after receiving such tremendous acclaim, all the praise and accolades would have gone to Ella’s head, but in fact it was quite the opposite. In every interview and performance I have ever seen from her, she was modestly smiling and acting like the dulcet tones pouring forth from her lips were nothing but ordinary music. She was a classy, classy lady.
Check out her performance of “Body and Soul” on Frank Sinatra’s TV program, and you will see what I mean:
I mean…WOW. It just reaches into your chest and grabs your heart like a fist. I would be hard-pressed to think of another artist who sang as honestly, as simply, and as utterly without ostentation as Ella Fitzgerald. The music comes rippling out of her in these gorgeous, honeyed waves, and the purity of her voice is without comparison. She was often referred to as The First Lady of Song, and that title was richly deserved.
In honor of Ms. Fitzgerald’s birthday, I’ve been listening to her music all day and have come up with the following list of my favorite songs:
1. Our Love Is Here to Stay
2. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
3. How Long Has This Been Goin’ On?
4. I Can’t Get Started
5. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
6. Ain’t Misbehavin’
7. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)
8. Embraceable You
9. Body and Soul
10. Dream a Little Dream of Me
11. The Nearness of You
12. You Won’t Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart)
13. You Took Advantage of Me
14. Where or When
15. Isn’t It Romantic?
What are your favorite Ella Fitzgerald songs? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Happy Birthday, Ella. Thanks for the music.