Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Ridin'High, Dec 29, 2016.
@Ridin'High sets the standard.
Wow -- I've known of that site for a long time, but never made the connection with @Ridin'High for whatever reason. Great work!
Indeed. The quality of his work is the inspiration that motivated me to get into discography.
Does this imply a layout adjustment that will allow for the inclusion of a forum or blog type discussion page?
Gee. Thank you all for the very kind comments about the discography, which actually remains a work in progress. (There's lots to still be added, and parts that have yet to be proofread.)
Thanks also for this question, .crystalised. As of yesterday, my plan was to post there but to discuss here.
However, today I have started to back away from the entire idea.
That's because, having now looked into the next albums to be discussed, I am realizing that there are not many "problematic" photos attached to them.
So: we shall carry on as usual. (The only difference will be that, if there is any Getty picture that strikes me as absolutely relevant to the discussion, I won't post it, but will simply provide a link.)
Back to our regular program.
XI. THE MAN I LOVE
(Continued; Sixth Post)
A view of Frank Sinatra's hilltop home in Beverly Hills.
The year is 1956, the house spanking new.
"The Folks Who Live on the Hill"
Of the twelve interpretations that The Man I Love embodies, the most celebrated is its last. Co-written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" made its debut in a scene from the 1937 movie High, Wide, and Handsome. During the scene, the female protagonist (Irene Dunne) sings the number to her lover (Randolph Scott). (See and hear Irene's performance here.) Within the same year, the number was recorded by at least four acts: Bing Crosby, Lennie Hayton with his orchestra, Guy Lombardo with his orchestra, and Maxine Sullivan. Scores of versions have followed, none more popular than the one recorded for the 1957 LP under scrutiny. Thanks to their wistful interpretation of the song's message, both Peggy Lee and Nelson Riddle have earned glowing praise from fans, artists, and critics alike -- praise that continues to this day.
Out of her catalogue of over 1,000 masters, "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" was actually Peggy Lee's own favorite number, too. While critics admired the recording for the craftsmanship on display, she loved it for sentimental reasons. The song evoked dreams that the artist would never fulfill.
The composition reminded Lee of the love that she had for her first partner, Dave Barbour, to whom she often referred as her only true spouse (her three ensuing husbands notwithstanding). According to Phoebe Jacobs (a well-known, New York-based publicist, who was friends with the singer for 30 years), the interpretation was so "sensitive because the song was very, very personal with Peggy. Dave Barbour and she dreamed everything in that song. [It's] the dream she had as a young bride married to Dave."
Peggy also associated the song's sentiment with her only offspring. Born in 1943, Nicki Lee Barbour lived in her mother's household until the early 1970s. "We were always the folks who live on the hill," Nicki asserted several decades later. "When I was a child, the first house Mother and Dad had was on Blair Drive, in the Hollywood Hills. When they divorced , we lived in Denslow, in Westwood, on a smaller hill. But we always lived in houses on hills. That song was always our favorite."
There was yet another person (another man) with whom Peggy Lee jointly shared an affection for the song. She identified him in her memoirs: "Love thy neighbor, the Bible says, and it's easy -- if your neighbor is Frank Sinatra. When I heard he was building a house near me, I was understandably delighted ... I was his friend forever ... Frank invited me to his house many times for dinners or parties or movies in his theatre ... Our many quiet talks were on the subjects of life and music. Once we planned a whole album together ... We were 'the folk who live on the hill' (from the song of almost the same title)." In addition to this comment from her autobiography, Lee made mention of their shared nickname during an oral interview or two.
Although they remained friends for life, and although their relationship turned casually sexual for a period of time (years after their Man I Love dates), perhaps this nickname was more of a reflection on the mundane realities of their lives. It was not just that the two of them had picked "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" for inclusion in the album that they did together. The most crucial point of reference was the fact that both singers had chosen to build houses in nearby hills. Hence they affectionately referred to themselves as folk from the hill.
Next: we visit the homes of the musically rich and famous. (Well, two of them, at any rate). We will also be running up some hills. But, before we leave for our arduous trek, let's relax by watching some old home movies. Here is an intimate collage, revealing some moments from Peggy Lee's home life. Watch footage of the lady with two of her husbands, as well as on an assortment of special occasions. Of the scenes in which Lee is seen, the very first actually dates from the same year as her Man I Love dates, or otherwise the previous year. (The sessions took place in April 1957, the scene possibly on Christmas Eve of 1957, though Valentine's Day is not out of the question.)
What a beautiful song! I'm searching this out now. Thank you for the excellent recommendations. To this point I have the two-fer of (1) JFJ/Things Are Swingin' - (2) A much better sounding Things are Swingin' and (3) The Complete Benny/Peggy recordings. Keep'em coming, please !
Cool to know that you are adding Peggy Lee stuff to your collection, and glad to hear that you picked up the nicer-sounding Things Are Swingin' CD. (I remember you asking about it some time ago.)
If you decide to also look for the Man I Love album, and if you are into CDs only, see if you can find the DRG CD version at a decent price. That one sounds much better than the EMI twofer. (There is also a Public Domain twofer from Spain. It sounds better than the EMI twofer, too.)
Or, if rather that the full album, you would like to have just the song "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" on CD, the best Peggy Lee compilation currently out there is the following one (not to be confused with another one that has the same cover but which is called The Best of, instead of The Very Best of):
Thank you for the 'pertinent' info, Ridin'High. Much appreciated!
Nelson took another stab at this gorgeous song with opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa, just before he passed away: kiri te kanawa the folks who live on the hill - Google Search .
My favorite version, though, is by George Shearing.
george shearing the folks who live on the hill - Google Search
It's the Peggy/Frank/Nelson version that first made me love the song, though.
I enjoy the George Shearing version too. Good choice!
This is a superb compilation with thoughtful programming and excellent mastering quality. Highly recommended for all fans of Peggy.
And, out of her own catalogue of 900 masters (her masterpiece Jerome Kern Songbook album notwithstanding), the great Margaret Whiting never sang this number. As a personal friend, perhaps she understood how deeply sentimental the song was to Peggy, and so she left it alone. I'm pleased to report that Peggy's rendition served as my introduction to this composition. However, there are other great interpretations out there, including a lovely version by Arthur Prysock that, alas, collected dust at Verve for nearly 30 years until PolyGram finally issued it on a various artist CD dedicated to Jerome Kern compositions in 1994.
Peggy's timeless interpretation is deeply felt by those who are unashamed at the prospect of getting sentimental during listening sessions. Her delivery at the line "and when the kids grow up and leave us / we'll share that same old view / just we two" stays with me, and chokes me up every time. An unforgettable ending to a lovely album.
The website's Frequently Asked Questions is most helpful. I noticed "The Man I Love" is not on Ivan's list of recommended CDs for Peggy Lee novices.
Gotta join the chorus. It makes for very pleasant listening.
For the purposes of the present discussion, it must be added that George Shearing mentioned, on more than one occasion, how obsessed he was with the version from The Man I Love. Here is what he said on one of such occasions:
"Take Peggy's record of The Folks Who Live on the Hill with Nelson Riddle and Sinatra conducting ... I could listen to that at least six times without getting tired of it."
So much did George like "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" that he wounded up recording the Kern composition in three different configurations. Besides his own Capitol album version(s), we have a vocal-and-piano recording from one of his several album collaborations with Mel Tormé. Plus a duet performance with jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.
Grappelli was another one who favored this song. Besides the version with Shearing, he did another with Oscar Peterson, as well as performances on his own ... including a recording which goes all the way back to 1942 (at a time when, if I'm not mistaken, a young Shearing was under his hire). So, those two instrumentalists -- Shearing and Grappelli -- cultivated the song throughout their respective careers.
But, lest my OP self gets rightfully accused of straying from the thread's main topic, let's bring Lady Lee back in. Here is a 1984 Stephane Grappelli concert performance, at the end of which he makes a point of mentioning Peggy Lee. (The mention comes around 4:52.)
That's one version that I can't say I'm keen on. (Just a matter of personal taste, though ... Not my type of singer.) According to one of his biographers, Nelson was disappointed by that entire album with Te Kanawa. She actually recorded the song again some ten years later, for a Kern songbook of hers, backed by the London Sinfonietta.
I too wonder why the song is not in Margaret's 1960 songbook ... Perhaps the reason is even simpler than anything we can imagine: too many good songs to choose from. I note, for instance, that "You Were Never Lovelier" is not on the songbook either, despite the fact that Kern himself played the song for Margaret before it had even come out (around 1942). For that reason alone, one could have expected Margaret to consider "You Were Never Lovelier" for inclusion. (Neither did Ella, by the way, in her shorter but somewhat better known 1963 Kern songbook.) Then again, the songs that Maggie did include are all quite good, and we got two volumes filled with them ... So, no complaints from me.
Interesting point about "You Were Never Lovelier". Indeed, the thought has recently crossed my mind that there was enough quality material from Kern for Margaret to have recorded a third volume. Thus, I suppose my only complaint is that the album only contains a mere 24 performances when it could have easily contained 36.
I did not realize that Ella also cut a Kern Songbook album. If it's better known, that's news to me. I was of the (perhaps misguided) understanding that Verve intended to have Whiting take over and continue the Songbook series for the label, although she decided to prematurely quit working for Verve after it was sold to MGM before additional series could be recorded.
Anyway, back to Peggy.
XI. THE MAN I LOVE
(Continued; Seventh Post)
Up The Hill: A View Of Frank Sinatra's House
Homes Of The Folks Who Live On The Hills
In 1954, Peggy Lee moved to a newly built house, located at 2345 Kimridge Road, in the Coldwater Canyon area, near the top of a hill. Two years later, Frank Sinatra built a house on the nearest hill, at 2666 Bowmont Drive. Those two Beverly Hills residences will be the subject of this post, as well as subsequent ones. Sinatra's place is seen directly above; Lee's abode is shown immediately below.
By The Pool: A View of Peggy Lee's House
We are still a bit too far. Let's come a little closer. No, not closer to Peggy's house; you are about to fall into the pool! I meant closer to Frank's:
Oh wait. We almost missed that big sign, by the entrance of Frank's. All in uppercase: IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN INVITED, YOU BETTER HAVE A DAMN GOOD REASON FOR RINGING THIS BELL! Geesh, maybe we better limit our visit to Peggy's ... Wait again. Another darn sign there, at Peggy's, too. Right above the front door: GET LOST, MAN, GET LOST.
We don't care. What's the worse that can happen? We already took a peek at Peggy's pool and Frank's patio. We are fans of these folks, so they better let us in! I even spent $4.99 on a copy of The Man I Love, for Christ's sake!
Oh good. They both heard me talk about buying the album. That got their attention.
Here they are, welcoming us visitors. That's nice of them, especially when one takes into account that we've sneaked through the back of both houses.
Ah, that's the spirit. Lee is coming to invite us in. There she comes, through one of the backdoors. That particular door leads to her outside office (previously a garage) and to her garden, near where we are standing. No worries. We just heard through the grapevine: the wicked sign by the front door had been put up by her latest husband. She got rid of him, which means that it was safe for us to break and enter all along ... Phew!
Let's see how we do at Frank's now.
Sinatra is approaching to greet us (we hope!) on his backyard balcony. As we look around, we can't help but notice something at the far right: a house veranda. Must command a view of mountains green! (Too dark now to make sure, but we can well imagine. Ah. Just the sort of view that seems to want to be seen.
To be continued.
I didn't know that was your website! It's fantastic. I've been on it a lot. I'll join and carry on the conversation there.
XI. THE MAN I LOVE
(Continued; Eighth Post)
Homes of the Musically Rich & Famous
Now that we have been invited in, let's see how these folks choose to live on the hills. We are currently checking out their respective living rooms (hers above, his below). At Peggy's, one wall is filled with mirrors, the ceiling is high, and the floor is covered by a thick, very furry carpet. An armoire, filled with collectibles, is against another wall. Flowers are also part of the scenery. Furthermore, two palm trees and an Egyptian libation pitcher occupy prominent positions, the better to give the illusion of an oasis.
At Frank's, the living-room outlook is more sober and a bit dark, as should befit a bachelor's pad. One of this large room's walls is made of dark marble. The furniture and decoration are arguably of its day (and up to date), coming off as utilitarian, without bringing much attention to itself. In the photos above, the one design trait that decisively looks non-American is the Asian-style room dividers. There is also a huge Japanese print, mounted as a mural in one of the walls. (Elsewhere in the house, it becomes similarly apparent that an Asian influence has been mixed with a modern-American style.)
Now Frank is trying to entice us. "Come see one of my favorite spots in the house." What's in his mind? Where or what could that be? ... Ah. He just opened it up.
Here he is, proudly showing off his very large drink cabinet. Doubtlessly a focal point of this pad, even if Frank is now trying his best to be casual about it.
All over the house, everything is spanking new, Frank adds; he is not even living in this place yet. The bachelor is clearly letting us know that we are enjoying the privilege of being the very first ones to try, along with him, everything that there is to be tried at this place ... Hmm. Is he about to make a move on us?
Mention is now being made of the new house's two bedrooms, and of how cozy the one where he will be sleeping is (what with its Asian-style fireplace and cozy amenities). Oh, he just asked if we co ... Nevermind, mister; we can't stay at your house any longer .... No, no it's not because of any indecent proposals from Mister Sinatra. It's because Peggy just offered to take us to bed. Bye, Frank!
Peggy's bedroom has a very large, king-size bed. There is an Arabian, thousand-and-one nights vibe to it. Painted a soft blue, the bed is on top of a platform covered by another white carpet. There are wall paintings, some of them featuring blue skies and white clouds. There are also wall paintings of flower vases, which mirror the real ones by each bedside. Crystal chandeliers hang low on both sides of the bed, too. The back wall is entirely covered by white curtains, which could be opened or closed at the touch of a button. The whole room is a study in white and blue.
This bedroom opens up to Lee's own private marble patio, where she has been cultivating her own garden, and where she has placed a small water fountain. "I've always loved the sound of water, the serenity it brings," Lee would explain in her memoirs. In this patio, "I could meditate, or take a sun bath, maybe write a poem or a lyric, or do a sketch to paint later."
Okay. We are in a bind again. Peggy is encouraging us to do some meditation with her ... while Frank is calling us back, and offering to show off all the modern technology at his new place. He's promising some music listening as well. Hmm. Music or meditation, what to pick ... Sorry, Pegs, we gotta run down and up to the other hill!
Next: Peggy and Frank keep on making us offers that we can't refuse!
Ha, the expression on Frank's face at the car horn moment is the same as what's printed on his Reprise record labels. Anxious Frank.
As a side note, I miss having two turntables. I approve of his setup.
XI. THE MAN I LOVE
(Continued; Ninth Post)
Music, Music, Music!
When we last paused our trip, we were breathlessly running up and down 'em Beverly hills. We had been spending quality time at Peggy Lee's but Frank Sinatra has just beckoned us over, from his home on the next hill. The guy enticed everybody -- even Peggy -- with an offer to treat us to his spanking new entertainment system. (Fantastic, we thought. We had actually been thinking how absurd it had been so far, that we were visiting the homes of two singers, yet neither one had told us anything about how music was integrated to their everyday lives at home.
We are at Francis Albert's now. Turns out that what Frank really wants to show us is his boob tube. He's raving about how much of a swinger ... his tube is. All of us are looking at it with the amazement of any 1950s living being, because it's true: the Skinny One's brand new toy totally "swings" to several points of the room. Oh, he couldn't be prouder of the fact. There he goes again. Yes, Frank, we know, we know. This TV set is the latest in television technology. And you have housed it inside built-in cabinets -- an innovative feature at this point in the history of house design. Oookay Frank. Congrats.
Gotta confess: at Frank's, our sense of amazement has turned out to be short-lived. We thought that you were going to make us swoon?? We're still waiting, sultan, sir.
Aaaaaah ... Now, that's more like it. .Crystalised. and the rest of us visitors have zeroed in on the record space under the TV, featuring a fair amount of LPs, as well as two turntables. (13:07.) Of course we want to know more -- LOTS more -- about this, and Frank does want to tell us more ...
... But we just got blocked by the villain of our story (none other than our tour guide and chaperone, Ed Murrow, who is more into movies than music, how dare he). Oh well. We can only guess that a large number of the LPs in Frank's collection are classical pieces. But we surely would have loved to find out if he also kept albums of his there, and also albums by his peers. (I can tell that Peggy was dying to know.) No clue. Darn. (Bring me the head of Ed Murrow, now!!!)
One very significant detail which Murrow prevents us from learning (and that we heard elsewhere) is that, at Frank's behest, the entire house was built around its hi-fi system. The walls of the living room are filled with acoustical gravel. And potent, high-end speakers were installed under the ceiling sheetrock. Also, something else that is somewhere else in this house, but which we won't get to see: a movie theatre, with its own bar. (Peggy told us through the grapevine.)
Sorry, Frank, but Murrow the chaperone is ruining the experience for us. We are going back to Peggy's, and may very well stay there for the rest of the evening. She is offering to sing for us, and you didn't!
Heaven (We're in Heaven)
Ah, we are re-joining her at her in-house office. There's a piano, a typewriter, sheets of paper, and books. She is telling us about her songwriting process, which includes recourse to not only pen and paper but also piano and her own basic playing. While Frank had his built-in wall cabinets, Peggy has a wall "enclosure." Therein she keeps a recording machine along with what looks like folders, containing perhaps music arrangements ... Listen now: she has turned on the recording machine. We are being treated to a few lines from a self-penned number to be included in her upcoming Christmas album.
But that's not all: as promised, she is singing to us, right here at home and in person, too.
We fans just died and went to heaven ....
which can only mean that our earthly visit to these homes on these hills have now ended. The end. Our end.
[Mass death happened on October 20 1960, at 7:11 EST. Recorded for posterity in the evidentiary clip below.]
(Rest and peace and music), us all.
A Garden of Eden (Back in your Own Backyard)
Now finished, our black & white trip to the hill homes of Peggy Lee and Fran Sinatra was primarily inspired by two episodes from the TV show Person to Person. YouTube clips of them have been provided on this post and the previous one. The Sinatra episode was broadcast on September 14, 1956, the Lee episode on October 20, 1960. At broadcasting time, his house had been recently finished, and he was not living in it yet. It would not be his only house, by the way, nor his main one.
Peggy Lee's house was, on the other hand, the only one she had at this time. From the perspective of music fans, it is arguably the most important of all the homes that she occupied in her lifetime. This is the place in which Peggy was living at the time that she recorded (and Decca or Capitol released) most of her best-known and most admired albums, including Sea Shells, Dream Street, The Man I Love, Beauty and the Beat, Latin ala Lee, and Basin Street East Proudly Presents. (She would put the house up for sale in 1964, in a decision that she seems to have regretted later on.)
I associate this residence with Sea Shells, in particular. During our discussion of that album's 1955 sessions (on page 3 of this thread, especially post #71), we talked about the association. I gave particular attention to the Japanese garden and pond that Peggy commissioned as an addition to the eight-room house. At the end of the YouTube clip posted in this message, she actually takes us to that pond, which can also be partially seen in the colorful 1961 photo above. Still further, Peggy's autobiography dedicates a fair amount of space to the same pond and garden, of which was clearly very proud:
Workmen did an excavation for a large fish pond that was about thirty feet deep. We stocked it with white perch, goldfish, carp, and catfish, and planted it with a rock garden that nestled ferns and ivy, moss and every kind of plant that would feel at home there. My favorite was a very old wisteria vine that was thick enough and strong enough to weep over the pond ... We had big mounds on two sides on which we planted Rangoon lime trees, evergreen and all sorts of plants, bushes and trees ... for a Japanese garden. We also built an authentic bridge over the pond from the front entrance over the garden to the pagoda on the other side. We painted it burnt orange and built a giant moon gate at the entrance. We hid a water pump among the plants so you could hear running water everywhere.
My dear friend ... Eddie Tirella -- "Eduardo" as I nicknamed him -- made life a joy for me ... We'd [go out and] come back several hours later with plants and flowers for the Japanese garden we were planting ...
I always thought that Kimridge Road was so romantic ... It was a slow-slung house on top of a hill with an Oriental look and a view of seven mountain ranges ... It was cozy and lovely.
Meet The House Designers (Just in Time)
After spending so many paragraphs visiting the homes of Peggy and Frank, the least we can do is dedicate a few lines to the two men who built or decorated them to the singers' specifications.
The man in charge of building Frank's house was Paul Revere Williams. He was(and remains) a well-known architect, with literally thousands of homes, private and public facilities to his credit (primarily but not exclusively in the Hollywood area), from the residences of Lucille Ball and Julie London to the Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills and the Hill Side Memorial Park tomb of Al Jolson. You can find more about him elsewhere in the net.
For the purposes of this write-up, one circumstance that deserves to be spelled out is the fact that Paul was African-American. His hiring thus adds to the many instances in which Frank directly or indirectly supported the rights and talents of fellow African-American citizens. (Overt showing of support was also true on Peggy Lee's part. We will have the opportunity to tell one exemplary story later on, during our discussion of another album of hers.)
Before she bought it in 1954, Peggy's house was apparently set up as a "rambling ranch." The person primarily responsible for re-designing into a multi-cultural, somewhat exotic oasis was Edward Tirella, the friend to whom she refers in the previous quote from her memoirs. Better known as a landscape architect and interior designer, he had also worked at Saks Fifth Avenue as a hat maker and in Hollywood as a film extra. Tirella was of Italian background, about 30 years old at that point in time, and gay -- all of this according to some brief online references to him. It also seems that he was a bit of a bon vivant, who enjoyed hanging around celebrities.
Sadly, he barely lived to reach his 40s, meeting a ghastly death in 1966, when tobacco heiress Doris Duke murdered him. Apparently, he had been either living or hanging around with her for many years. Further details can be found in the newspaper clip below. (Other accounts offer significant variations to the whole story, such as the crushing and dragging of the body all the way to a tree, or the allegation of a preceding fight, stemming from Eduardo's announcement that he had found new employment elsewhere.)
(If you've heard anything about Doris, you will know that this tragic chapter is merely a footnote in a whirlwind of a life. A later companion, also gay, was her butler, who inherited most of her fortune but spent most of it trying to defend himself from the charge that he had gotten in cahoots with her doctor to murder her. Keeping all things in the medical family, the primary accuser was Doris' nurse, who actually ended up in prison for theft. Meanwhile, less than six months after he was declared innocent, the butler was also found dead in his bed, at the age of 51.)
Next: We will conclude this 10-part discussion of The Man I Love (the album, the sessions, the Lee-Sinatra connection) with a more colorful journey than the one in black & white which we just took, over the last few posts. Once that second trip is done and talk about The Man I Love is over and done, we shall be Jumping for Joy.
Peggy's tape machine is playing at 7½ inches per second, and it looks as though her take-up reel is smaller than the supply reel. It is of little consequence, however, because the reproduction sounds lovely and so does she! Peggy and her musical ghost, both caught on film at the exact same moment! RIPAM, indeed.
Latest Peggy Lee news: The honorable singer made an appearance at this year's Oscars, as broadcast by ABC last Sunday (March 3, 2018).
Lee must have been aware that we were discussing the album The Man I Love in this thread, because she chose to attend the ceremony in the company of the same man whose back graces that album's front cover.
Here is a screenshot of the Sunday appearance by the Martins. Hollywood photographers caught the couple as they were coming out of a limo, and into the red carpet:
If you watched the ceremony but didn't catch them, the reason might be that they were shown just seconds after the telecast started, and as part of a b&w montage.
The footage is actually from the Academy's 1956 ceremony, at which Peggy was a nominee for Best Supporting Actress.
Obviously, I appreciate seeing this glimpse of Peggy Lee at the ceremony, however belatedly. It still doesn't make for the outrageous fact that the Oscars totally ignored Peggy's passing away, failing to include her in their In Memoriam segment.
Lest you think I ignored or missed them, I just wanted to quickly thank you both for the nice comments!
Great that you are paying attention to the more "technical" matters on those video clips, and sharing your observations here. Thanks for that, too.
I agree that there are enough good Kern songs out there to fill a third volume. Back then, at the time of this album's recording, a two-volume set might have been as far as any record label would have been willing to go, though.
I.m.o., the likelier reason why Margaret Whiting and Russ Garcia were given the okay to fill two volumes was that there was enough of a precedent. I'm referring not just to Ella's previous two-volume sets on Verve but also those by Chris Connor and Sarah Vaughan on Atlantic and Mercury, respectively.
My assumption is that, if more than two volumes were proposed for any singer, labels would have felt that only Ella (& Frank) had the potential to sell a vocal set of such proportions -- and only because there was already a mass and critical audience awaiting for her songbooks (and for his concept album series).
Relatively speaking, it is: anything recorded by Ella is likelier to be better known than the recordings of those singers who, as great as they might have been, did not reach her level of international acclaim. That having been said, though, Ella's Kern and Mercer times are probably the least known of her songbooks, and neither has enjoyed the prestige or favor of the other ones. They are, in a nutshell, the bastard children in the series -- recorded a few years after the really well-known ones, and each amounting to just one "unimpressive" volume, rather than two or three or four. Another dividing line stems from the fact that Norman Granz (Verve's original owner, and Ella's perennial manager-producer) had sold Verve around 1960 (i.e., right after the earlier songbooks, but before those last two).
I had not heard before about a plan to have Whiting take over the songbook series, or record any other songbooks. It's an interesting possibility. Looking into her autobiography, she doesn't write anything about that particular subject, but she does have other interesting things to say.
One of the reasons why Margaret left Dot was unhappiness & uncertainty about the quality of the work that she had been recording there. Apparently, she felt that she was losing her own sense of identity -- adopting an image that was not really here, and singing stuff that was not really her lane.
Another reason why she left Dot and went to Verve: Granz buttered her up. He told her that Ella and Maggie were his two favorite singers. After hearing that, I cannot blame Maggie if she expected Norman to lavish minute attention on all her Verve projects. Instead, Granz left to go on the road with Ella and she never heard from his again.
Both Margaret and Anita have the same complaint about their time at the label: Norman was fully and completely dedicated to Ella's career, giving only the minimally required attention to the work of the other artists (vocalists) signed to his label.
Anita also harbored the suspicion that Norman used her as a tax write-off and, worse yet, a guinea pig. She felt that musicians and songs were tried on her first, and then, if successful, would later be reassigned to Ella .... When I originally heard about this charge from Anita, my immediate thought was that she was overreacting. Now I wonder if there's something to it.
I'm of course thinking about the fact that you are bringing up (i.e., Ella getting to record a Kern songbook on the same label for which Margaret had already done one). However, I feel that we would need to count with more "circumstantial evidence" before "taking Norman to court." (Since Ella had already covered Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, and Arlen, it only makes sense to me that Kern had to be added to the list, for her songbook series to be anywhere near completed.)
Peggy does not seem to have ever been oriented toward the recording of songbooks. Her thing was, above all, diversity, freshness and variety, even in the selection of repertoire for her albums. The one and only songbook that she was talked into recording (an Arlen songbook) probably grabbed her interest because it consisted of songs that had been never or seldom ever recorded.
In addition to her late-age CD of Arlen rarities, there is an earlier songbook in her discography. Nevertheless, it is actually a nice anthology put together by Capitol. It contains tracks that she had recorded over various years, rather than at sessions for one particular album. Even so, it's a worthwhile release, and one firmly anchored in her actual friendship with the composer that was being honored:
XI. THE MAN I LOVE
(Continued, Tenth Post)
High on the Hills
To conclude our incursion into the world of the album The Man I Love, we will be making a second trip to Beverly Hills. Just in case that old age is causing memory lapses, let me remind you that our first trip was taken in the 1950s. It was in vintage black & white. (Should you yearn for some reminiscences and mementoes, take a look at tickets/posts #442, #445, #447).
Would you care to return to the same scene for a full-color, modern-day journey through the hills? ... Come on, say yes. Come with me, your estate agent Ridin' High, and get high ...
... high on the hilltop habitat where song birds as rarified as The La La Lee and The Skinny Sinatra cooed and crooned.
Up the hills we go.
At the top of one of the hills, behold 2600 Bowmont Drive. This seven-bedroom, ten-bathroom, 1.13 acre Mediterranean-style mansion occupies now what once was Sinatra's plot and residence (2666 Bowmont Drive).
Ole Blue Eyes' house survived with only minor changes until 2006, when it was demolished in favor of the opulent eye-catcher on which we angelic oglers have dared to tread. Its current price tag probably runs close to the ten-million-dollar mark.
What's that? ... What are you guys murmuring about? ... Ah, I see. Some of you want to inspect the interior of the house, and some you want to remain outdoors, in order to enjoy the view. No problem. Those of you wanting to snoop inside, come with me, and take a look:
I hope none of you missed the sight from the veranda, which commands quiet a view (1:35).
Let us now go out and check with those of you who preferred to stay outside. How's the hilltop view? Yeah, yeah, it's worth my price of admission, of course. You can see not only the adjacent mountains but also the canyon and the city. Here is a partial shot:
But let's move on, and explore the region a little further. This way ... Hey you! No, not that way. Why are you trying to slide down the slopes like a savage? Aren't you scared that a mountain lion will come out and eat you? Come back here and walk down the paved road, like the rest of us civilized people. Geesh.
By the way, we were inside a gated community. I'm not sure if any part of the community was around when Frank built his own home. Probably not. Let's get out. Ah, here; we just came out of the gate:
As we keep walking, we are seeing just one single house to our right. Two wastebaskets, one green and the other brown, are outside. The mail box identifies the place as 2549.
Let's walk a wee bit further down.
Oh look. Still by 2549, we are coming to an intersection. If we keep walking down, we'll remain in Bowmont Drive. If we turn to the right, we will be in a short stretch of lane called Kimridge Road. Wasn't that where Peggy Lee used to live? ... Sure was. Let's turn to Kimridge. Up a hill again we'll go.
To be continued (and concluded).
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