Sentimental Journey, Volume 1 (1942-1946), Rhino Records, 1993
I am a child of rock ‘n’ roll, no question. And I have filled this space with plenty of material about my likes and dislikes from the classic period of that genre, the mid-1950s, when we first heard that different jail-break beat, a beat our parents could not “hear,” as we of the generation of ’68 earned our spurs and started that long teenage process of going our own way. Still, as much as we were determined to have our own music on our own terms, wafting through every household, every household that had a radio in the background, and more importantly, had the emerging sounds from television was our parents’ music- the music, mainly of the fighting World War II period. And that is what this Sentimental Journey volume evokes in these ears.
These are songs, not jitter-bugging songs like when Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Harry James and their orchestras started to “jump” to high heaven but the midnight mood songs, the songs of soldiers leaving for wherever and uncertain futures, the songs of old-fashioned (now, seemingly, old-fashioned) boy meets girl love, the songs of lonely nights waiting by the fireside, waiting for Johnny to come home. A very different waiting sound than rock, be-bop or hip-hop. A sound driven more by melody in synch with the Tin Pan Alley lyrics than anything later produced.
Some of these tunes still echo way back in my young teenager brain, some don’t, but here are the stick outs:
Swing On A Star, Bing Crosby (a much underrated, by me, singer, especially before I heard him do his rendition of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? on the fly); Paper Doll, The Mills Brothers (this one I heard endlessly in the background radio and has great harmonics by these guys); There I’ve Said It Again, Vaughn Monroe (old Vaughn was the prototype, even more than Frank Sinatra, for the virile male singer who carried the “torch”); Stormy Weather, Lena Horne (I was mad for this song even in my “high rock” days and if you get a chance watch the late Lena Horne do her thing with this one on YouTube, Wow!); Night and Day, Frank Sinatra (classic Cole Porter, although I like Billie Holiday’s version better, Frank’s phrasing is excellent). Now if we just had Stardust Memories we really would be back in the 1940s.