It turns out that Doris Day, Bob Dylan and Emmy Rossum have something in common, which is an apparent appreciation for popular song standards. While any single person’s list of favorite standards isn’t going to match anyone else’s, I would bet that most music lovers can recall a standard that was a favorite of their parents, or grandparents.
And I would bet that, even though it’s a tad passé (and downright embarrassing) to admit to being romantic ourselves, more than a handful of us would proudly acknowledge having an inherent sentimental streak, the sort of streak that leads us to listen to every version of songs like A Sentimental Journey, The Autumn Leaves, or These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) late at night when no one else is around. Or driving, which is my personal favorite time to indulge.
Ah, but I have been told that the critical mind is meant to suppress any overt expression of self-indulgent schmaltz. At the very least, if our emotional selves are not willing to be drummed out of existence entirely, they could at least have the manners to sit quietly at the back of the room and not disturb the intellects, Yes?
Sorry. What can I say? I have a thing for standards…and sentimental journeys. And Doris Day and Bob Dylan and Emmy Rossum. Besides, I’m not the sort to sit quietly. And I don’t do that back of the room thing. Ever.
And hand-written letters and framed photographs and A Room of My Own in My Father’s New York…
#EmmyRossum #BobDylan #DorisDay #LesBrown #SentimentalJourney #SongStandards #ARoomofOnesOwn
February 7, 2015 at 8:44 pm
(While listening to Glenn Miller, admittedly stored in my itunes library)… what a lovely essay… and yes, I freely stick with my Romantic streak, cultivate it, sing arias about it and what not… especially because it’s, as you say, a tad passé. Thank you very much for sharing the text with us, dear Giselle.
February 7, 2015 at 8:46 pm
I freely admit to being sentimental, to enjoy a long train ride more then traveling by car or plane, to singing along to an old standard when alone in the car and that “These Foolish Things” is high on my list of all time favorite songs. Thanks Giselle Minoli for as always from you a wonderful post and for helping me remember important memories on a sentimental journey through life.
February 7, 2015 at 8:58 pm
Greetings Dirk Puehl. Glenn Miller, eh? Why am I not surprised? Awfully glad to know I’m in your good company when it comes to having a romantic streak. Can get a bit lonely in that regard I must say. But now I feel better…’cause of the presence of you and stuart richman.
Honestly, the two of you should do yourselves a favor and take a listen (on iTunes) to Emmy Rossum’s A Sentimental Journey and to Dylan’s new album. Emmy is divine…and Dylan’s version of Autumn Leaves is so sentimental it’s almost heartbreaking. Honest. Have a good weekend you fellas…
February 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm
Well, I was raised on Goodman, Miller, Artie Shaw and the Dorseys… and it might get lonely indeed, reminiscing, that’s the time when I usually pick up a Chandler novel to glorify the feeling along with the songs from back in the day. Thank you very much for the recommendation of Emmy Rossum, by the way.
February 7, 2015 at 9:59 pm
Dirk Puehl as long as we’re on the standards track, Barbra Streisand’s new album Partners has some winners on it – People, I Still Can See Your Face, (sublime), and I’d Want it To Be You, (oddly). And I love Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s new album. So…clearly…you and I are not the only romantic types on the Planet. Let’s start a club.
February 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm
Just one thing–Doris Day has gotten a bad rap unfairly for years. If you really listen to her (and re-watch some of her films from 40s-60s) that woman is amazing and think about the height of her fame–she was older than the usual female star. Great singer for sure.
February 7, 2015 at 10:18 pm
… and “Pillow Talk” and “Lover Come Back” are among my favourite movies, well, ever, Kena Herod… and yes, Giselle Minoli, let’s!
February 7, 2015 at 10:23 pm
Kena Herod it is true what you say. It was that whole Whatever will be will be thing. Had she tarted herself up, however, I dare say she wouldn’t have gotten the rap. Everyone loved Mae West…and…IMHO…she was talent free. All boobs, no boom. Doris Day, on the other hand, was great. Sort of the Donna Reed of music. When will we stop putting women in boxes. The other side of it is Beyonce and JLo. Take it all off. Beyonce is wildly talented and I wonder if she’d have the same career if she hadn’t gone that direction. Impossible to say because we can’t rewrite history…
February 7, 2015 at 10:30 pm
I can sorta get what happened to Day–blond but no Mae West in that overt sexual sense. But, the weird thing is that people forget her supposed “sunny” hit, Que Sera, Sera was from her performance in the more than serious enough film by Alfred Hitchcock(!), The Man Who Knew Too Much (with James Stewart), and the subject of the film was anything but sunny! A nice interview with her in her 80s just a couple of years ago: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/02/149392321/doris-day-a-hollywood-legend-reflects-on-life
February 8, 2015 at 1:00 am
Giselle Minoli The great American songbook is what I grew up on and is what formed whatever romantic notions there are in me. Diana Krall has a full repertoire of these songs we like on Youtube. If you don’t know about her, I’d recommend her to you.
Tony Bennett seems to have cornered the market with his aluminum walker paced love songs, and of course, there’s Sinatra. Buble is good, but he’s not quite old enough yet to sing these songs convincingly. To be specific, “I’ll Be Seeing You” always knocks me out. Great lyrics and a sweet melody line seem to be the magic formula. Oddly, as it turns out, nostalgia is as blind as Justice. “Rock around the Clock” can be as much of a memory flogger as “These Foolish Things,” or “Laura.” It doesn’t seem right, but it’s true because nostalgia knows nothing about Romance.
February 8, 2015 at 1:20 am
R. Harlan Smith what a wonderful post–and with The Great American Songbook we can never forget all the great jazzers as well. My vote for best rendition of the Gershwin’s (George and Ira) Summertime is by Sarah Vaughan, orchestra conducted by Hal Mooney:
I’d say this is a perfect blend of both, as you put it, Romance and Nostagia. Cheers! :))
February 8, 2015 at 4:12 am
R. Harlan Smith I do know Diana…have listened to her a lot, but not recently. Rock around the Clock, I confess, is neither nostalgic nor a memory flogger for me. Which is the reason I wrote that one person’s “standards” are not so – perhaps even sub-standard – for someone else. I vote for whatever one enjoys. As for nostalgia and Justice…who said nostalgia is about seeing? 😉
Kena Herod ah…Yes…Sarah Vaughan. Thanks for the link!
February 8, 2015 at 5:57 am
Giselle Minoli I’ve always thought of nostalgia as a product of the ‘mind’s eye’, and seeing is not quite the point I had in mind with the comparison.
February 8, 2015 at 2:20 pm
Mornin’ R. Harlan Smith Forgive please. I just (naturally) went from the word “blind” to the word “see.” Something tells me it matters not…’cause what matters is that you, too, have an affection for the Standards. And why am I not surprised? You’re a painter after all…but I digress…
February 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm
Giselle Minoli G’mornin’ to you, Giselle. Maybe my writing wasn’t clear. That can happen. I meant, simply, just as Justice applies to all with all it’s varied rules, so does Nostalgia with all it’s varied stimulus. For example, just as the nostalgic value of the song “Deja Vu” might mean nothing to you, or anyone else, it takes my breath away as a nostalgic reminder of a “time” when I knew a very exciting woman. The song associated with that time was “Deja Vu”. Maybe there was something during that specific time that rocked your heart, or maybe not. Nostalgia can be blind in that way. 8>)
February 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm
R. Harlan Smith I’m wondering if maybe the “blindness” of nostalgia is what makes that kind of romanticism so long-lived? Certain kinds of blindnesses are okay in my book if it’s harmless and a nostalgia for romanticism is one of those things.
My husband likes to pick a Sunday morning movie for us to watch after we have coffee and read the Times. This morning it’s The Big Country…with Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker, Burl Ives. I’m not sure whether movies like this last because they are classics (I mean William Wyler is the director…) or because there is also so much “nostalgia” attached to figures like Peck and Simmons. Like Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. (Boy did they ever put a lot of make-up on our boy Gregory…and he didn’t need it!. But I digress…) Great movie. Have you ever seen it?
February 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm
Giselle Minoli No, I haven’t. I’ve been watching tons of Westerns lately because that’s what I’m writing right now. Is it on Youtube? If it is, I’ll watch with breakfast which I’m about to stir up in a minute.
February 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm
R. Harlan Smith here is a link on YouTube that seems to have a nominal fee attached:
Great you are writing a Western…I love them. Maybe because I grew up in Northern New Mexico and rode horses (an Indian Paint named Patches, her Bay colt named Nugget and another Palomino named Candy).
Trying to think what my favorite Western might be…Does The Unforgiven count? That movie is the Shakespeare of westerns… Give me your own list? I’m curious. For nostalgia’s sake! 😉
February 8, 2015 at 6:41 pm
Giselle Minoli Yes. I see it. Don’t want to pay three bucks. I’m going to opt for an historical film about the siege of Stalingrad. 8>)
February 8, 2015 at 7:49 pm
OK R. Harlan Smith. But I really would love to have your list of favorite Westerns. You know…for the sake of nostalgia, romance, old times…and taste!
February 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm
Giselle Minoli That might take a little time for consideration, but I’d begin with “Shane”, which I consider the first adult Western, then “Silverado”. Another would be “Open Range”, and “The Quick and the Dead”. The original “High Noon”, “The Unforgiven”, “Lonesome Dove”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “Rising Sun,” “Little Big Man”, “Dances With Wolves.” There are others, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind. If you find Robert Duval and Kevin Costner on Youtube, that will lead you to several more I think are worthy of your time if you like good Westerns. There are two major Writers of Westerns, Luke Short and Louis L’Amor. If you search them on Youtube, you run across a few more reliably entertaining Westerns. If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know.
February 8, 2015 at 11:23 pm
Dances With Wolves…a favorite R. Harlan Smith. Brilliant. It’s about so many things I don’t know where to start. So I won’t.
February 9, 2015 at 4:02 am
Hmmm…the Lady Gaga and Mr. Tony Bennett just won a Grammy for being sentimental and romantic and recording Dancing Cheek to Cheek together. There is, what?, a 50 year age difference between them? Further proof that a love for the standards is age-indifferent. I’ll drink to that! Oopsss that’s Sondheim isn’t it? bet he loves the standards…
February 20, 2015 at 6:50 am
Standards are a standard part of my week. I listen to them and sing them without apology!
February 20, 2015 at 6:52 am
R. Harlan Smith – the opening scenes to Once Upon a Time in the West is on my top ten greats.
February 20, 2015 at 8:48 am
Jennifer Tackman Yes. I agree with you one hundred percent. When the train pulls away and he’s standing there and his intent is so strong. I like a character whose competence is displayed immediately. It gives me confidence in him throughout the story, and I’m willing to sympathize with his weaknesses. And even though the recruiting scenes in the openings of films like The Dirty Dozen and The Magnificent Seven are a bit of a melodramatic cliche, they demonstrate the strong points of each recruit and serve as an introduction to each character. Yes, I like to see openings scenes work like a multitasking mule to get a lot of the story elements out of the way with gusto.
February 20, 2015 at 3:23 pm
R. Harlan Smith – exactly! You articulated what I was trying to say. 🙂 I often have students watch scenes from the westerns you listed for improv theater to understand how subtle acts show strength or evil or any emotion without an over-the-top overacting display. Silence and pause speaks incredible volumes when done well.
And I love your list of favorite westerns – all great!