Ten Songs I Wish I'd Written
(in no particular order)

1. You Don't Know Me (Eddy Arnold) - favorite performance: Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. I like songs that tell a story and offer a dramatic situation succinctly. Don't overlook country songs because you don't care for the style - there are great songs in every style.

2. I Didn't Know About You (Duke Ellington/Bob Russell) - favorite performance: Sylvia Syms, Lovingly. This was written as an instrumental first, like so many of Duke's sings. Unlike many of them, it was given a lyric worthy of the music later.

3. All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - favorite performance: Dylan, John Wesley Harding. I know the Hendrix version is more overtly dramatic, but the use of a series of images to create a mood and suggest a story was done better in Dylan's understated version, I think, and that's where I learned that technical approach to a lyric which I employed on The Change is On, found on Duke Robillard's Temptation.

4. Feel Like Going Home (Charlie Rich) - favorite performance: Charlie Rich demo version, Feel Like Going Home: The Essential Charlie Rich. The song gets stronger the more you take away from the arrangement; Rich's demo is the most stripped down and affecting. I don't really identify with the emotional stance, but I like songs of all stances if they express their point of view powerfully enough.

5. That's Where It's At (Sam Cooke) - favorite performance: Sam Cooke, A Man And His Music. This creates the mood and places you there in the room with it. "...just stay one minute more..." says it all.

6. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Dan Penn) - favorite performance: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul. This lyric says something that needs saying. I'm not sure why more lyrics don't.

7. It Never Entered My Mind (Rodgers/Hart) - favorite performance: Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. I like lyrics which capture moments of realization. The tone is exquisitely handled here as well.

8. Here, There, and Everywhere (Lennon/McCartney) - favorite performance: the Beatles, Revolver. It's very singeable - a pure melody which carries the mood. A little like Coconut Grove by John Sebastian in that respect.

9. Morgengruss (Schubert) - favorite performance: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Die Schoene Muellerin. I like singing this one. Schubert's melodies seem to have sprung from the ground, and the dramatic situation is expressed nicely in the middle.

10. Choosey Beggar (Smokey Robinson) - favorite performance: Smokey and the Miracles, Anthology. Poetry at eye level.

What to do about Chuck Berry, Ray Davies, Percy Mayfield, Boudleaux Bryant, Harold Arlen, and a host of others not represented here? Stay tuned: blues songs will be treated separately next.

My Ten Favorite Trumpet Players

1.  Louis Armstrong  -  incomparably better than anyone else, in every respect

Roy Eldridge  -  powerfully emotional; his mouthpiece made high notes  easy but mid range and below almost impossible to play (I tried once)

Cootie Williams  -  my plunger mentor; stark power and eloquence

Ruby Braff  -  lyrical and ornate; uses the full range of the instrument

Shorty Baker  -  criminally undervalued; unique tone and taste

Clark Terry  -  inimitable technique and ebullience

Ray Nance  -  sounds easy to duplicate; go try it

Miles Davis  -  personal, vocal sound; I prefer the pre-fusion Miles

Bobby Hackett  -  small but sumptuous tone; a lyrical adaptation of Pops

10. a three-way tie among
Buck Clayton, Sweets Edison, and Lips Page

If Bix, Bunny, Fats, and Clifford had lived, this list would look a little different; but not at the top.   

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