Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue? - 1981

I think I first became acquainted with Ethel Waters when I got a 2 disc CD called Women in Blues. On that CD there is a track called My Handyman by Ethel Waters. It is a racy double entendre song where every line about what the handyman did for her also had sexual innuendo.

I then learned more about her when watching Ken Burns' Jazz series. Around that time is when I picked up a couple Ethel Waters records, this being one of them. The cool thing about this record is that the recordings are from TV broadcasts (or as the jacket reads
telecasts") as well as unreleased 78's. This came out back in the early 80's so I'm sure by now some of these have been released on other various compilations. However because that is the source, you won't find "My Handyman". I think that would have been a little too racy for TV in the 50's.

Some of her best recordings are from the 20's and 30's. She has a few records that have been inducted in to the Grammy hall of fame from that period. She however did enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the lat 40's and 50's. I'm guessing that part of that was due to her Oscar nomination in 1949 for Best Supporting Actress in Pinky.

the following year she was in the play and film The Member of The Wedding. Below is a clip of her singing "Eyes On The Sparrow" from the film.

She won a New York Drama critics award for this role.

For more on her life check out the wikipedia entry.

As far as this record goes there are quite a few good tracks. I really like the opening track, "Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue?". The piano has a nice saloon quality and the recording is very intimate.

I also really like the song "The Birth of The Blues" and Ethel does a nice version here. You'll notice that I like her blues songs and if they have blue in the title I tend to like the song. Hence i also recommend "The Blues In The Night' and another good track. Again I like the live back saloon quality of the recording and the arrangement. Very simple and real.

I like "That's What Harlem Means to Me" I think mostly because it reminds me of the Sinatra song "That's What America Means to Me". I'm sure the two songs are related, but I'm not sure how. If you have any insight on that history, please let me know.

Another favorite for me is "The Sunny Side Of The Street". It is a good song to start off your day literally on a good note.

One other song that seems like a good theme for this weekend in Southern California is "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". I say that because I write this on a Saturday morning, the smoke from the fires around Los Angeles is horrible. It makes me think that I wish I had a song called "Smoke Gets In Your Lungs" because it would be even more fitting. But "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" will have to do.

And the last song to point out is another blue song. The last track "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues" is another really good track.


01 Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue_.m4a
02 Young At Heart.m4a
03 My Gal Sal.m4a
04 How Are Things In Glocca Marra_.m4a
05 Eli, Eli.m4a
06 The Birth Of The Blues.m4a
07 My Man.m4a
08 Come Rain or Come Shine - The Man I Love - The Floodgates Of Despair.m4a
09 The Blues In The Night.m4a
10 That's What Harlem Means To Me.m4a
11 I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good.m4a
12 Easter Parade.m4a
13 You're Just In Love.m4a
14 I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart - Music Maestro Please.m4a
15 The Sunny Side Of The Street.m4a
16 A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid.m4a
17 You Took Advantage Of Me.m4a
18 Yesterdays.m4a
19 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.m4a
20 I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues.m4a

Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue part
Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue part

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