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VodkaPundit

Friday Night Videos

January 17th, 2014 - 10:17 pm

Once or twice a decade it seems, country makes big inroads into the pop charts. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by records and radio pretty much everywhere during the ’70s, when it happened twice — with great results.

One of those was Willie Nelson’s 1978 classic, Stardust. The album was a collection of his deceptively simple-seeming takes on American songbook staples like “All Of Me,” “Moonlight In Vermont,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and of course the title track.

Tonight’s pick, Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” appeared in my head as an earworm the other night when I was settling down into bed. I had my iPad on my lap and my earbuds in my ears, so I pulled up the song on YouTube and let it go. When you’re relaxed and can really listen to a song, you notice things you might not have before. In this case, not in over 35 years of listening to a song.

It’s nicely layered (I wish I knew who arranged it), and doesn’t waste any time establishing them. A few guitar chords and then the piano kicks in followed quickly by the strings and harmonica. Barely 11 seconds have gone by before Nelson’s gentle vocal begins and you know you’re in for something special. But what I noticed the other night is there’s sort of a rhythmic tension between the three main layers of the arrangement — vocal, main orchestration, and strings.

That tension adds excitement, almost drama, to a simple sunny song about a summer sky. Or maybe it was just my imagination getting away from me on a soft bed under dim lights at a late hour.

But something has kept people listening to this one for nearly four decades, and maybe that’s it.

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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This is one of my favorite albums of all time. I was fortunate enough to be in the music business at that time and had a backstage pass to his show in ATL. I had the vinyl album in its cover with the pass glued on to the cover. Wish I still had it; had a homeless stint between. What a great commentary on the song and arrangement. Reading all your posts, Mrs. Green is a lucky woman and son 1 and son 2 have a very insightful Dad. Bless you.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stardust, Elite Hotel by Emmylou Harris, and Gaucho by Steely Dan will forever be engrained in my psyche because that's all my grandmother played in 1980/81 when we were living with her.

That and Elvis's gospels.

I loathe all of them. I can listen to other Steely Dan albums, but not Gaucho. Ugh.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your Grandmother played Steely Dan? Aja. God I feel old.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of my favorite videos from YouTube that is on my playlist, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers live in Houston playing Stardust https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqjepfQZwzY
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a great find -- thank you for sharing it.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dunno why I keep thinking that's a Gilbert & Sullivan ditty. I'll blame Data.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Better than Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Anything is better than Gilbert O'Sullivan. Naturally.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
the entire album is terrific. i have a vinyl copy that has worked its way into the rarely played but always enjoyed portion of my library. the closest thing to a weak cut is September Song. i had to get it out and play it to remember that one. which, of course led to playing the entire album. the album is copyright 1978, but the "newest" song is Unchained Melody from 1955. everything else is 1926-1940 and the songs are written by carmichael, gershwin, ellington and, 1926, irving berlin's Blue Skies. thanks for reminding me of this one. made my day.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What find most interesting about this song is that it is a happy song about blue skies in a minor key. Also note the bass line follows a descending chromatic line. Everything about the song *should* be sad. Yet it isn't.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
".....or maybe it was the..." vodka.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Booker T. Jones arranged it.

http://www.discogs.com/Willie-Nelson-Stardust/release/626367

That Booker.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
There can be only one... Booker.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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