The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: "The Man I Love"


      Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the one, the only Battle of the Bands brought to you by those fantabulous bloggers at Far Away Series and StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.  This is the event where you listen to two versions of one song and then vote on the one you like best.  Don't forget to visit our hosts to vote on their contests as well as the other sites that you will find listed at the end of this post.   

       Now let the show begin...

The Man I Love

         George Gershwin is indisputably (for those in the know) one of the finest composers of melody of all time.   Teamed up with his brother, the genius lyricist Ira, the pair wrote some of the finest songs ever written.  "The Man I Love" is a perfect example to offer as proof of the argument (and there is no argument as far as I am concerned).  

          The song was initially written in 1924 as "The Girl I Love", but became more known in its present form becoming a standard for many a female singer.   The melody is haunting.  The lyrics are impeccable.  In my opinion this is one of the most perfect pop songs ever written and the two versions I present here provide strong evidence for my case.

"The Man I Love" by Lena Horne (1941)

         Lena Horne is one of my favorite female singers.  Smart, beautiful, and incredibly talented, Lena Horne left an amazing legacy not only as an entertainer, but as an outspoken activist for the Civil Rights movement from the 1940's until her death in 2010 at age 92.

         The sultry forlorn sound of Horne's interpretation of "The Man I Love" is achingly beautiful.  Seductive winds back up the vocals with weeping strings and guitar.  A steady percussive effect behind it all suggests the beating of the longing heart or perhaps the tick tock of the passage of time.  At the 2:08 mark a plaintive violin plays a brief solo.   Hearing this song takes me back through time and almost makes me want to stay.





"The Man I Love" by Benny Goodman (1938)

          Take away words of this song and you have the elegant simplicity of perfect melody.   It doesn't get much better than this jazz rendition by Benny Goodman and his Quartet in a live performance at Carnegie Hall.    No flash or flamboyance, instead we are dazzled with pure rhythm and melody with only the slightest variations in the tasty solo work of Teddy Wilson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibes.  The often showy Gene Krupa isn't pounding the skins here, but softly keeping the steady beat with brushes.

          "Wow!" is all I have to say every time I listen to this version of the song by Goodman and the Quartet.




Now You Tell Us

       What do you think?  Hopefully we won't be getting a lot of  "I don't like this kind of music" because it's hard to imagine anyone having this opinion of near perfect music.  So give us the positives.  What did you like about the song and these versions of the song?   Which did you like the best?   Listen and give us your vote and reasoning in the comment section.

Don't Forget the Other Battles

          Click the following links to find other possible participants and if you're doing a Battle and aren't included in this list then please tell us in the comment section:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

 DISCCONNECTED’ 

 'A WRITER'S LIFE IN PROGRESS' 

 ‘CREATIVE OUTLET OF STRATPLAYER 

.

         The results of my Battle will be posted next Friday.   Vote!!!!

37 comments:

  1. I preferred Lena Horne's version as I think the words are wonderful to listen to.

    Have a grand week-end and take care.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love old music! It's so classy and with both renditions I am transported into another time. My personal favorite is Benny Goodman's version. I like the sound of big bands from the 30s & 40s. Very nice!

    Okay, I'm joining the BOTB fun for the first time. Yay, me! I hope you'll decide to join me for #BOTB: Last Kiss

    ReplyDelete
  3. That one's tough. At least Benny wasn't singing - that would've been really awkward. I'd have to give it to him though. Music was very smooth.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great BOTB, Lee -- I love both!!!

    Lena Horne has such a velvety smooth voice. As an old recording, it's sadly hurt by all the noise from the worn 78, but it also kind of adds the authenticity of "that's how those records really used to sound." But the song is wonderful, and hearing the lyrics adds so much depth to the song -- it's no longer just a tune, it's song with meaning, and Lena does a fabulous job of expressing it.

    I grew up hearing Benny Goodman -- he was my father's favorite musician (my dad used to play sax and clarinet in some big bands), and had a ton of Goodman records, so I'm sure I've heard this at some point in my early years. But it's been over 40 years, probably,, and listening now, I'm struck by just how smooth Benny's vibrato is, and how soulful the band was. There are no words here to make the meaning explicit, but this also strikes me as much more than just a "tune".

    Both are great, and both deserve to win -- I feel guilty voting against either one.

    But I'm going with Benny Goodman in this bout -- even without words, there just seems to be more emotional impact for me. Some of it is likely personal due to memories and an association with my father, but music does that -- music created by strangers you never met becomes deeply personal because it becomes the backdrop for your life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I vote for Benny Goodman. Not a Lena Horne fan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yvonne-- Understandable since you are a woman of words.

    Cathy-- There is a sort of class to the older music that is missing from most of today's music. Glad you've joined us for BOTB.

    Alex-- Actually you can hear someone humming on this recording, but I'm sure it wasn't Benny. Teddy maybe?

    Chris -- You've expressed some good stuff in your comment. Thank-you for that. I agree with you about the personal nature of music and the interior places it touches. I also agree that both versions deserve to win. This is a very tough choice for me.

    JoJo-- Lena has a lot of style. Maybe you should check out more of her music.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lena Horne gets my vote, as the song is geared toward the longing voice of a woman looking for love. Her voice is distinctive even with this poor early recording.

    The Goodman version is smooth but could be lounge music and isn't typical of what Goodman does best. He excels at swing.

    I'm a fan of both Lena and Benny, and have music by both. Gershwin of course is one of the all time greats. I like this pairing, Lee!
    Europe loved the American jazz and blues artists, especially France.

    ReplyDelete
  8. BOIDMAN ~
    Great song selection! Great 'BOTB'.

    Oh, yes, George Gershwin wrote some wonderful stuffs! (I recall a story I read somewhere years ago. It may have been in 'THE MEMOIRS OF AN AMNESIAC' by Oscar Levant, but I'm not sure.)

    Anyway, George Gershwin was going to Hollywood for the first time, and Ira - fearing that he might be losing his writing partner and brother - said to George at the train station: "Promise me you won't love Hollywood too much." That cracks me up.

    That Benny Goodman 'Carnegie Hall Concert' was fantastic. That was one incredible orchestra he had! (And Gene Krupa on drums... man, that guy had some great style.)

    Regarding your comment to Alex above, I think it was Hampton who had a tendency to hum along as he played.

    Well, this was an excellent 'BOTB' installment. Go ahead and record my vote for the version I'm voting for. (Yeah, I don't need to say it. You already know.)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    POSTSCRIPT: Here's a funny line from that Oscar Levant book I mentioned above...

    "Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism."

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this song and I really like Lena BUT the Benny Goodman version is smooth as silk and conveys so much emotion. I am surprised by my own vote but I gotta give it to Benny et al. WOW! Great Battle Lee.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Normally I'd be all about the vocals, and I tried not to let he fidelity of the recording sway my vote, but I am voting for Goodman's version.


    LC

    ReplyDelete
  11. I should probably clarify something concerning the choice of the recording I used for Lena's version. There are other videos with "better" recording quality, but I purposely decided to use the scratchy 78 version in order to capture a mood so to speak--a sound like one might have heard it after many repeated plays. I hope this quality issue isn't swaying any votes. My pick of videos was a conscious decision.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tough choice, but Lena won my heart with this one.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, man, this is hard... makes my brain hurt. On the one hand you have Lena Horne, a magnificent singer and just flat-out gorgeous, putting a lot of emotion behind the performance. On the other hand, you have Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa, four of the finest musicians and one of the most innovative musical groups of all time. I have to go with the Goodman version, at least today. Ask me again in a couple of days, and I might go with Lena.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lena gets my vote. I want to hear her voice over and over.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It seems like a silly romantic song. I agree the melody is good. I have a soft spot for Lena Horne, so my vote is for her.

    ReplyDelete
  16. DG-- Don't agree with your "lounge music" assessment. Either way on this match is right.

    StMc-- I believe you're right about Hampton doing the humming--I believe I've heard it on some of his recordings as well. Oscar Levant was a great wit of the likes that we rarely see in our age. Love those quotes. I'm putting you down for a vote for Benny and the boys.

    FAE-- I think most of us will agree that this pairing is almost a toss of the coin.

    Larry-- I love Lena's vocals. I may have done her an injustice by using the recording I did. The one I have on CD is the same but without the crackles and pops.

    C.Lee-- Lena touches the heart with this recording.

    John -- I know exactly what you're saying. I've got my choice in mind but that could change before my announcement next week.

    Sheena-- I listen to her voice repeatedly on the CDs that I owned.

    Samuel-- Not sure that I'd call it a silly romantic song since it conveys an element of doubt and insecurity that many of us have. I too have a soft spot for Lena, but I'm a bit daft for Benny as well.

    Lee




    ReplyDelete
  17. For me, I'll take Benny. Just smoother to my ears.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lena Horne by a mile! The classic, haunting lyrics of Ira must be heard along with the melancholy, beautiful music of the Master George Gershwin. I love the scratchiness too as it brought back fond memories of listening to music on good ole vinyl. I do enjoy Benny Goodman's version as it is brilliant but I need to lyrics and Lena Horne had a great voice. I couldn't help myself, I listened to some other women sing it on youtube. I liked Lee Wiley and I love, love ,love the great Judy Garland. Oh, my dad always said that his family was related to Gene Krupa. I have no idea about this and it is so difficult to find out about his family. This would have been through his mother's side and his mom (my grandmom) died in 1919. I'd love to know one day

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey Lee, I love Gershwin! Lena Horne gets my vote on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is such a powerful song, and Lena Horne performed it in her classic style. Lena definitely gets my vote. Barbra Streisand also recorded an excellent version of this song. A great choice for Battle of the Bands, Lee!

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  21. I was certain I would love a woman's perspective (so much more personal) over an instrumental. I was wrong. Benny Goodman takes it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am sucker for words. I think as a writer and singer, I always tend to lean toward that version. This is no exception. I listened to Lena, Benny, and then Lena again. I really liked the instrumental version more than I expected to... but it doesn't beat the fabulous Lena Horne for these ears.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Lena Horne's version I have to admit her voice is so sultry and smooth... yes, that is definitely my choice.

    ReplyDelete
  24. CW-- "Smooth" seems to be the main description of Benny's take.

    Birgit-- There are many great versions of this song to be found. It would be cool to find more info on your connection to Krupa.

    Eva-- Gershwin is one of the greats.

    Julie-- It's a good thing they changed the song to be sung by a woman--makes it all the more powerful.

    Jennifer-- Benny puts some real feeling into the song so the choice is a tough one.

    Robin-- I find the back-up instrumentation for Lena's version to be quite moving.

    Marie-- Sultry is a good description for Lena's style though she was a strong independent woman as well.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  25. I like both but prefer the Lena Horne version better, I always remember when I was a kid Lena Horne was one of my uncles absolute favourite singers.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Got to love Lena. She is the best.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Steve-- I've been aware of Lena since I was a kid but never began to full appreciate her until well into my adult years.

    Patrick--Lena pulls ahead in the voting!

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  28. These make me want to waltz. I really like it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Lena Horne, loved the plaintive violin.
    Benny Goodman ... sweet so sweet - and those piano keys!
    O heavens, I don't know .. GW methinks

    ReplyDelete
  30. ERROR! sorry, I meant Benny Goodman ...

    ReplyDelete
  31. I liked the second version better...I think because of the piano bit...I'm a sucker for piano music!
    ~Katie

    ReplyDelete
  32. Colette -- Actually I believe this tune is in 4/4 time and is not a waltz, but I can see why you might want to waltz to it--or at least slow dance.

    Scott-- I can understand the near indecision as this is a very tough choice.

    Katie - Teddy does some wonderful piano playing on this piece.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  33. i see my earlier post where I said ERROR has not appeared ... I meant Benny Goodman ...

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'll vote for Goodman here, because the music is so dang good, but my REAL favorite version is Sarah Vaughan's.

    Gershwin's RHAPSODY IN BLUE is probably my favorite piece of music ever, fwiw.

    ReplyDelete
  35. They sure were talented.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Susan Scott-- Your vote has been recorded.

    Kelly -- I love "Rhapsody in Blue".

    Joyce-- More talent than one post can stand!

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  37. so much talent and such wonderful music here.

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee