The songs in the Great American Standards songbook all have lives of their own by now – and why not, most of them are older than your grandmother. Even fairly obscure songs that your grandmother probably doesn’t remember listening to as a child have entire biographies. Grandma may not remember the 1937 Fred Astaire film Shall We Dance, or the sequence therein where Fred cuts a rug in a gleaming futuristic ‘factory’ with a bunch of black factory workers. But the song has gone on, in the hands of Ella Fitzgerald 20-some years later, and then in the next millennium as a remix.
Another melancholy outing with Billie Holiday. Interesting thing to note, though; while to my ears this is sedentary music, in the thirties this was music for dancing. Presumably the genteel sort of dancing where partners only touched each others’ shoulders, but dancing nonetheless. Thus, the long orchestral intro of this and many other jazz numbers from the period; like the long breakdowns between verses in today’s EDM songs, it was meant to put dancers in the swingin’ mood. Now we can see how seemingly disparate musical styles have threads running between them, and while almost everything can change, certain rules still apply.