Sunday, June 24, 2007

最佳20世紀的歐西歌曲 / Songs of the Century (4)

The fourth on my Top Five is "Summertime", a song that I mentioned recently in my May 23, 2007 blog article entitled 【我愛夏日長 / Summertime ... and the living is easy】. According to Wikipedia, George Gershwin started composing the song in December 1933 based on the African American folk music style. The lyrics were written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin. The song was first played in the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. Over the years, Summertime has become one of the most often "covered" songs in popular music. What I am sharing with you here are two very different renditions, one by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and the other by Janis Joplin.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong's Summertime

In this rendition, by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald's clear, toned voice (her vocal range spanned three octaves) is a sharp contrast to Louis Armstrong's low, raspy one. The result is a duet piece that brings out the spirit of the African American folk music in the deep south. One could almost feel the warm breeze blowing, hear the fish jumping, and see the cotton plantation under the sun.

Janis Joplin's Summertime

On the other hand, the rendition by Janis Joplin is - and there is only one way to describe her music - very much like Janis Joplin. The piece was recorded live in Gröna Lund in 1969, about a year before her death in 1970 at age 27, of heroin and alcohol O.D. Just like all her music, Janis Joplin sang this with her soul, and while one might not feel the breeze and see the cotton, it was the human spirit and emotion that come out the music and her strong raspy voice. One could say she lived, and ruined her life to the fullest. But, as one YouTube comment says: "Everyone has a timeline on life. Whether she did drug or not, it was her time to go. Honor her brilliance, not her downfall. "

(Photo Credit 图片: Janis Joplin and Ella Fitzgerald from Wikipedia)

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