The sad news of last week…

Etta James’ passing — got me thinking (always a dangerous thing). It’s funny … actually it’s not funny, but it is in our nature to take things for granted until they’re gone, and then miss them horribly.

People, jobs, the innocence of youth … whatever, we tend to look past the treasure before us until it’s taken away.

So Etta’s death got me thinking about the great classic era artists that are still here with us and still performing… guys like Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones and Andy Williams.

Since bringing up this website, I’ve done full articles/reviews on Tony, Jack (in tandem with Matt Monro)  and Johnny but for some reason I’ve been remiss in bringing Andy Williams to the vocalstandards discussion … until today.

My “Andy Oversight”…

…is a little weird because during the wonder years of my youth, Andy was a regular at my house. Pretty much every week for ten or so years in the late ’60s and early ’70s Andy would visit via his TV show.

Andy, Dean Martin and Walt Disney anchored our family TV watching for those formative years. In no small measure, I believe the foundation of my passion for the American Songbook was laid from the many hours I spent with Andy and Dean and the friends they introduced us to (the Gold Diggers!) via their entertaining TV shows.

Shooting for 75 years on stage…

2012 will make Andy WIlliams’ 75th year as a performer. Did you get that — SEVENTY FIVE YEARS … as a performer! I think he’s 84 or so which means he was all of nine or ten in the late 1930’s when he joined his older brothers in the Williams Brothers Quartet … and he’s been performing ever since.

Andy started out 20 years before I was born … 20 years. That’s a whole career folks. Wild.

Tony Bennett always comes to mind as the road warrior octogenarian vocal artist of our time. And to be sure Tony B is awesome in both talent and longevity … but when it comes to “length of service”, I believe even Tony’s wonderfully long and resurgent career is eclipsed by Andy Williams’ amazing run.

Andy crossed many genres…

… over the years. Pop, Country, Easy Listening and Jazz. Some of the early hits from his solo career come through in a dead pan Elvis style (the ’57 chart topper “Butterfly” for instance). But to me Andy has one pervasive style … sort of a thematic even cinematic style. The easy listening string charts and arrangements that Mr. Williams traversed in the prime of his career evoked a sound track feel. Like you were in a movie.

In fact many of his hits WERE songs from major films. “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story”, the “Love Theme from Romeo And Juliet (A Time For Us)”, “Born Free”, “Days Of Wine And Roses” …and of course “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s  among many others.

Though this “cinematic style” thing made sense to me, I was actually somewhat surprised to see it so demonstrably born out by the track list of his 2009 Sony release — Moon River: The Very Best of Andy Williams LP where at least 7 of the 18 songs are film numbers that I recognize.

Jack Jones, Matt Monro, Perry Como, Sinatra and other guys had great success with soundtrack songs too. But where the other guys make their way back to set lists of torch ballads, bluesy saloon songs and swing’n hot band numbers, Andy rides those big screen string charts and evokes a thematic style almost every time out.

Williams style rides nicely across the different genres he’s reached for over the years … his song selection and it’s mapping to his style has always been superb.

Not an easy path for the “Emperor of Easy”…

Andy has some work ahead before he can make it back to the stage. Last November he announced he was fighting bladder cancer and was going to take some time off to lick it. My brother and I (both in our mid 50’s) have had to deal with prostate cancer … I can only imagine how tough it is for Andy in his mid-eighties to go toe-to-toe with cancer.

Battle Andy, take no prisoners — kick cancer’s ass! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. And when you bring that golden voice and beautiful thematic style back to the Moon River Theater this fall … taking nothing for granted, I’ll be there to see the show.

Come back strong Andy.

 

Share
  • Tony

    First time here and I love it! Think I’ll unpack my bags and hang around here a little while longer….

    You should add to your list of still-active classic vocalists the great Buddy Greco, who’s been active since the early ’40s. He recently relocated from Palm Springs to England, where he’s touring constantly and, sadly, not recording nearly as much as he should. But he’s still in fine voice, and his stellar piano playing is undiminished.

    • scox

      Buddy Greco! I love Buddy … one of the under appreciated Rat Packers! Very cool that he’s still so active over in the UK. I used to travel to England quite often, but it’s been a few years. I may need to make a sojourn over to show my loverly wife the sights and catch Mr. Greco … when the weather warms up a bit! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by the site Tony — stay as long as you like! I appreciate the nice words and feedback. I’m all over weaving a Buddy G post into the content plan … on it!

    • Anonymous

      Buddy Greco! I love Buddy … one of the under appreciated Rat Packers! Very cool that he’s still so active over in the UK. I used to travel to England quite often, but it’s been a few years. I may need to make a sojourn over to show my loverly wife the sights and catch Mr. Greco … when the weather warms up a bit! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by the site Tony — stay as long as you like! I appreciate the nice words and feedback. I’m all over weaving a Buddy G post into the content plan … on it!

  • Pingback: Dean Martin's wonderful gift...()

  • Pingback: Happy Birthday Nancy Wilson...()

  • Pingback: Godspeed Andy Williams...()