Take 5 goes meta: A list of 5 songs about lists
Over the past few years, Take 5’s theme-based music lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We’ve covered all the seasons of the year, all the holidays, different types of weather, the careers of jazz legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming jazz artists and have gotten into the musical minutiae of things like flowers, birds, baseball, prohibition and civil rights. And now it’s time for Take 5 to go meta and present a five-song list of songs about….LISTS. It had to happen sooner or later.
And, of course, you can have fun in the Comments Section below, suggesting your own list of songs about lists that weren't included in this list. Route 66 might be a nice place to start. (“What? No Route 66? How could you?” Take it from there…)
1: Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me
Album: Acoustic Swing And Jug
This song is an upbeat and tongue twisting list of things that can give you the blues. It was written in 1919 and recorded, mostly as an instrumental, by early jazz artists including Sidney Bechet, Wilber de Paris and Cab Calloway. It was almost rescued from semi-obscurity in the 1960’s by The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, who provided us with this spirited version of the song. Not a whole lot has been heard from it since.
2: Let’s Do It
Artist: Louis Armstrong
Album: Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
Cole Porter was apparently took great joy in composing ‘list’ songs. Let’s Do It, written in 1928 is the first in a list of songs about lists from this great songwriter; songs including You’re The Top and Come To The Supermarket (In Old Peking). Here, Louis Armstrong and The Oscar Peterson Trio take a pleasant stroll through Porter’s list of all the people, birds, aquatic creatures, insects and animals that ‘do it’ (by which, Porter insisted, he meant ‘fall in love’. Well…..OK).
3: These Foolish Things
Artist: Johnny Hartman
Album: Hartman For Lovers
This extremely evocative list of lost love comes from British songwriters, Jack Strachey (music) and Eric Maschwitz (lyrics). And what lyrics! “The winds of March that make my heart a dancer, a telephone that rings, but who’s to answer? Oh, how the ghost of you clings. These foolish things remind me of you.” And Johnny Hartman’s version gets the most out of every syllable. (We’d also like to encourage enterprising parodists to re-write this song as a list of the left-overs of an acrimonious divorce: These Few Less Things Remind Me Of You. A suggested start: “A candle’s lit because the power’s been cut off. Can’t pay the bill because you sued my butt off. I feel those arrows and slings. These few less things remind me of you.”)
4: My Favorite Things
Artist: Cyrus Chestnut (w/Anita Baker)
Album: Cyrus Chestnut
This is certainly one of the best-known ‘list’ songs, but we almost didn’t include it in this list, primarily because over time the lyric version has become more and more associated with Christmas. And this isn’t a Christmas list. In the end, though, it had to be here because it is a great ‘list’ song and because pianist, Cyrus Chestnut, and vocalist, Anita Baker, do such a fine version of it. We also felt that by including the song here, it would make it harder for you to begin your list of list songs in the Comments Section below. (“What? No My Favorite Things? How could you?”) 5: The Waters Of March
Artist: Susannah McCorkle
Album: Most Requested Songs
The Waters Of March (Aguas de Marco) by Antonio Carlos Jobim—the ultimate ‘list’ song. The correct, though needlessly narrow, view would be to say that the song is about the images that came to Jobim as he wrote about Brazil’s rainiest month but, really, The Waters Of March is about Everything. In a recent listener poll by NPR and Jazz24, Susannah McCorkle’s beautiful rendition of the song was voted one of the 50 Greatest Jazz Vocal Recordings. We hope you enjoy list-ening.