I did a freed search to find other versions, and got a list of hundreds… I don’t have the time to review all of them, but I’m looking for one that’s not as down tempo as Frank Sinatra’s version, preferably by a male vocalist. Just based on the thread title, I was going to vote for Willie Nelson’s (from his standards album, Stardust, which is all-around wonderful).
Jazz vocalist Joe Williams does another lovely version if you want to stay away from the distinctive twang of Willie’s voice. Go back to the source and find Bertie Lawrence’s version.
Zebra November 30, 2003, 1:36am #6(moderator please feel free to lock this thread) Eva Cassidy Mods, feel free to close.
Eva Cassidy’s and Bertie Lawrence’s versions weren’t available, so, I’ve nothing to say about them. Ella’s version is a bit more bluesy and jazzy, with vocals dominating over the piano accompaniment.
Linda’s is smoother and cooler with a full Nelson Riddle orchestration backing her up. As for the others: Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Lee Jones, Michael Feinstein, Sarah Vaughan, Elton John… they all suck in comparison.
Their voices are thin and warmly and not as full as Linda’s or Ella’s. There are very few men who cover this song since it was written for a female singer.
Leafrog November 30, 2003, 5:04am #9Blossom Dalai did a very nice version… I heard it on the Red Hot and Ira compilation…damn, that is a great CD. Never cared for his singing, but his version of Someone To WatchOverMe is simply unbearable.
Twickster, I looked over all 993 hits on Amazon for Someone to WatchOverMe, ” and did not see one Joe Williams cover. And I did listen to about 20 seconds of Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition, and I have to agree, it’s the most powerful.
I was really looking forward to Sting’s version, from a recent Grammys Awards, but the clip on Amazon didn’t sound anything like TWO, so either he took enormous liberties with it, or they linked to the wrong clip. Thanks for the Sinatra tip, Mariah, I’ll look for a younger version of “Young at Heart,” too, since we’re also playing that.
Chest Baker did a nice version, though it violates your “not downtempo” condition. In any case her version also appeared on the “Moonlighting” TV series soundtrack album.
Cliff December 1, 2003, 8:35pm #19Ever since we played it in my high school jazz band, I’ve thought the song works best as an instrumental. There is a CD called “London Trombone Sound” which is a recording of sixteen trombones from various London performing groups, and they do a version of the tune with a soloist playing the vocal melody.
Being a trombone player myself, I am morally obligated to give my vote to this song. The story was typical for Twenties shows that featured complicated plots tossing together the rich and famous with the hoi polloi.
This one included American millionaires, flappers, British aristocrats hard-up for money, and bootleggers all involved in “mistaken identities and zany deceptions,” which provide “the usual opportunities for the principals and chorus to burst into song” (Hoyland, p. Someone To WatchOverMe, ” one of the great love songs in American musical theater history, is performed by Lawrence in the title role of Kay.
The show had a bifurcated birthright, the score coming from the American Gershwin's, the book from the British writing team of P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. The show also satirizes, according to Gershwin biographer Howard Pollack, “American self-righteousness,” and includes humor that was “unusually adult” for the typical romantic comedy of the time.
The actions that drive the baroque complicated plot are the efforts made to save playboy Jimmy Winter * from his unfortunate marital entanglements, so he can become engaged to Kay; and to save Kay's brother, a destitute English duke turned bootlegger, and his underworld cronies from the law. The take-away from this modern day musical fairy tale is that millionaires, aristocrats and even some petty criminals can all live together happily ever after if they are charming enough and sing wonderful songs.
As Philip Curia points out, Guy Bolton felt his and Wodehouse's book for the show, after much doctoring, had managed to “capture the rhythm of the era.” Most subsequent versions, including one staged by Wodehouse and Bolton themselves in 1961, have been adapted to try to catch the rhythm of succeeding eras, but with limited success.
And, we might add, as is so often the case, a song like Someone To WatchOverMe, ” that has taken its place in The Songbook, is still as vital, relevant and appealing today as it was then, even while the show from which it came has been largely forgotten. So while they were awaiting the snail-mail delivery of the book from Wodehouse and Bolton, George came up with a melody that was, as Ira tells it, “fast and jazzy,” a rhythm tune that would most likely, had it been left alone, have turned out to be a “dance-and-ensemble number” to be used somewhere in the show.
One account suggests it occurred when their sister Frances Gershwin walked into the room and distracted George. In any case, upon hearing the melody played this way, both George and Ira were struck by its potential to become a “wistful and warm” ballad.
The idea for Lawrence to include a rag doll in her performance of Someone To WatchOverMe originated with none other than the versatile multitask er George Gershwin himself, who was apparently not only the composer but a momentary prop man, choreographer and director. He recollects, “This doll was a strange looking object I found in a Philadelphia toy store and gave to Miss Lawrence with the suggestion that she use it in the number.
That doll stayed in the show for the entire run” (The Gershwin's, Robert Kimball and Alfred Simon, Eds., New York: Athene um, 1973, p. 75). Gershwin's thought was that the singer's vulnerability and need for someone to care for her would be intensified by having her alone on stage with only a doll to sing to.
In his autobiography, Dancing in the Dark, lyricist Howard Dietz narrates how he came to work on several of the songs from Oh, Kay! Help was needed when Ira Gershwin had to undergo an emergency appendectomy that required a lengthy hospital stay.
'S book-writers, P. G. Wodehouse (who was also an accomplished and acclaimed lyricist) and Guy Bolton, because in Dietz' view, he was willing to do it without receiving credit, which George wanted to go solely to his brother, and for less money. Dietz adds, I was very proud to work with the great Gershwin, and I would have done it for nothing, which I did” (Dancing in the Dark, p. 74 Hardcover Ed.