Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Take my whole life too . . .

Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, according to William Congreve. But sometimes it's all that keeps me from running screaming over the cliffs like an enraged lemming.

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows that musically for me it's all about the melody. And one of the loveliest melodies I know is this song, about which I wrote before: I Can't Help Falling In love With You when I was contributing to Kevin Hayden's American Street. Here's the post:

Certain melodies sound timeless: classical, pop, doesn’t matter. How many of you felt, when you heard “With or Without You” by U2, that you had heard it before . . . it somehow reminded you of something.
What it reminded you of is a classic melody, reworked enough to be different, yet standing on its own as a unique, wonderful song.
Another such melody is “Can’t Help Falling In Love“, first recorded by some guy named Elvis:
Can’t Help Falling in Love,” by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, is a pop song based on “Plaisir d’amour” by Jean Paul Egide Martini. It was rewritten for the 1961 film Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley.
I won’t bother posting any videos of Elvis singing it. Like all of his repertoire, toward the end he did it too fast and jivey. But several other artists covered the song, including some unlikely ones.
Pearl Jam recorded the song for a fan club CD, and played it live often. Here’s a live recording of them respectfully covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love”:

Here’s the original version, not a real video, but still…:

And for those who want the most beautiful recording of the precursor, “Plasir d’amour”, here’s the great Greek singer Nana Mouskouri singing her timeless version of the song from her 1976 “Passport” album. Melody is the most important part of music to me. Oh, and this song is from the afore-mentioned Martini’s opera “Annette et Lubin“, written in 1789:

It swells my heart that people keep finding this wonderful song, and it humbles me that I find older versions that do it justice.

In the first category, here's Ingrid Michaelson:

In the latter category, here's the late Klaus Nomi:

More about that version in a minute.

And to show that younger people still appreciate the beauty of great music, here's the best version I've heard in a long time, by the French group Revolver:

Notice the music at the beginning of the Klaus Nomi performance? It's probably the melody that was the precursor of both the aforementioned songs. One of the finest melodies of all time, its' Beethoven's Pathetique. This music grabs my heart every time I hear it: