Little late with the Thursday post this week, so here’s a good one that I’ve been saving up.
This week’s example of pop/jazz crossover is one of the oddest songs I know. It was written by Irish songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, he of the alarming 70s ‘fro. You wouldn’t know from the jaunty, upbeat feel of the original version that this was a lament of a would-be suicide unless you listened closely to the lyrics. He sings the song in a bland monotone, so apparently bereft of emotion (to my ears, anyway) that it’s positively spooky. There is a bewildering disconnect between words and music. Here’s a You Tube video of the original version.
British jazz vocalist Ian Shaw, though, gets it right. The lyrics now come front and center. By untethering the tune from its naff, plinky-plonk rhythm, Shaw does something quite extraordinary with this. He’s a wonderfully soulful singer who always wears his proverbial heart on his sleeve, but even by his standards this feels raw and almost unbearably poignant. Even after countless listens, this still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. I believe every word he sings. Listen to his falsetto lament at the very end of the song, and I defy you not to feel moved. I don’t want to get too heavy or nuffink, but this, ladies and gents, is what great art is all about. Utterly riveting.
This is from Shaw’s excellent album, A World Still Turning.