Saturday, January 9, 2016

George walked in

This is one of those nice GG videos that features photos and even snippets of film from his life. Rare enough, but what happened last night? What happened when I was so unprepared for the second song (Love Walked In) on this video?

What happened is, I felt astonishment, and I cried. Cried because, stripped of all the schmaltz, we have a version so close to what George would play that it's almost scary. He was not a sentimental pianist and played with tremendous energy and verve. The love songs shone and gleamed, shot through with sunlight. He was solar rather than lunar, though that sunnyness  was sometimes sadly, darkly eclipsed.

I heard Debussy in those newly-revealed, stripped-down chords, but I heard something absolutely original too. I don't know of any other composer who can knock me back with a single chord. It's remarkable.

So we have the two sides of George here, almost aggressive honky-tonk (and believe me, in the few recordings we have of him, he played fast and he played hard) and sheer, naked poetry. Jack Gibbons has tried to peel back all the layers of sentimentality and get back to essential Gershwin, and it's like restoring a gorgeous Renaissance painting that has been dulled by a thousand layers of varnish and time. What is revealed is startling, so fresh the paint is still wet.

The song begins at 3:01. It's one of those songs that is so simple, it's hardly there. As Salieri says in Amadeus, remove even one element, one note and the whole structure would fall down. And yet it is something that will last forever.

Nothing seemed to matter any more,
Didn't care what I was headed for
Time was standing still,
No one counted till
There came a knocking at the door.

Love walked right in and drove the shadows away ;
Love walked right in and brought my sunniest day.
One magic moment, and my heart seemed to know
That love said Hello ! ,
Though not a word was spoken.

One look and I forgot the gloom of the past ;
One look and I had found my future at last.
One look and I had found a world completely new,
When love walked in... with you.

And now, the inevitable P. S. :

And here is the best vocal version I've heard, sung sweetly and sincerely with a simple, clean, unsentimental orchestration and a fantastic segue into "swing" near the end (the last dreamy note reminding me of an Astaire and Rogers film). I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS IS! But I think that Gershwin, who always referred to himself as a Russian, would have appreciated this.

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