Just Sing the Song

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ll be back to the audio episodes soon. Will have some catching up to do.

A little rant in the meantime.  In this extended era of endless vamping at the end of songs (every cut seems like it’s over 5 minutes),  I’m reminded of Frank Sinatra’s advice:  “Just sing the song.”   In my mind, he is really referring to two musical “crimes” that have not been stopped:  the first is the tendency for so many soulful singers (soul, funk, pop, R&B, rock, you name it) to add 4, 5, 10, or 12 notes to the end of every phrase – vocal improv if you will.  It can be very interpretive and effective if used only once in a great while, but some singers can’t help themselves, and think they must twist every melody line that the songwriter crafted.

Think Stevie Wonder, as an example of an early offender.  But there are so many.

If Frank were still around he’d be cringing, and complaining.  His interpretation was in the phrasing, the timing, and the inflection.  He didn’t mess with the notes.   It’s great to hear him and other singers of his ilk, sing the damn song, and shut up.  (Been listening to the Seriously Sinatra channel lately on XM.)

Frank’s warning and advice also applies to the second crime:  the endless vamping on the chorus, or last three chords, or whatever, at the end of many recorded songs.   Who says every tune should turn into a jam session, or an evangelical revival everyone hollerin’ ?  End it.



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