Sunday, August 15, 2010

Great Love Songs (20)

Funnily enough, the premise of this song generally reminds me of one of my most-missed male friends (the original 'Drinking Companion', with whom - if all were fair and just in the world - I would be drinking right now [well, maybe not right now; in 7 or 8 hours' time] in the noble city of Edinburgh), rather than one of my Lost Loves. The deepest loves, and the fondest memories, are as often as not non-sexual.

This song also evokes particularly strong recollections of Bertrand Tavernier's Daddy Nostalgie (originally released in the UK as These Foolish Things), which paired Dirk Bogarde, in his last role, with Jane Birkin as a father and daughter struggling to repair their strained relationship as they confront his terminal illness. It came out at a particularly stressful time in my life, when I had health worries of my own that were considered to be potentially terminal, and I was about to lose the lifebelt of regular employment and become one of society's outcasts. It is one of the most beautifully melancholic pieces of cinema I can remember seeing: absolutely nothing happens for an hour and forty-five minutes, but it's quite mesmerising, heartbreaking.

Here's the classic version of These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) by Billie Holliday (with Teddy Wilson and his orchestra), accompanied by a nice slideshow of photographs and artwork of the great lady.

It's usually a tough call between Billie and Ella, but I think I take Billie (narrowly) on this one. However, this is an irresistibly mellow version from Ms Fitzgerald, accompanied by Oscar Peterson on the piano.

In the Tavernier movie, the song was performed by Jane Birkin and Jimmy Rowles (on piano and occasional vocal). Her breathy rendition doesn't have the pzazz of the great divas of jazz, but there's an engaging sincerity about it - which gained enormous power from its context in the film. I finally found it on YouTube, but, alas, there's just a still photo with it - of the cover of an album called Jazz À St Germain - rather than a video (but at least it provides the lyrics in full).

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