Relationship Ramblings

Music Porn: Torchy Jazz Standards

Every once in a while, I’ve seen this question pop up on some discussion boards: What turns you on most: videos, pictures or stories?

For me, it’s often music. Torchy jazz standards to be specific.


Sometimes, it’s something in the lyrics that grabs me. For years, Diana Krall’s version of Besame Mucho always grabbed me, even though I had no idea what they lyrics were until I dug up a translation. It turned out that besame mucho means “give me many kisses” in Spanish. Suzanne Vega’s Caramel always pulls me in with the tale of a woman fighting like hell not to give into the temptation of a man she knows she really can’t have.

 

At other times, it’s in the seduction I hear in someone else’s voice that makes me wish it could be me luring my lover in exactly that same way. Madeline Peyroux’s version of Dance Me to the End of Love is a prime example. If only I could sing like her, like Edith Piaf incarnate, too. (La Vie en Rose anyone?) Jane Monheit has become a fast new favorite of mine. Her version of Why Can’t You Behave? is absolutely wicked. The same goes for Sade’s Your Love is King. Sometimes, it’s a sense of longing that pulls at my heartstrings like Sarah Vaughan singing I Cover the Waterfront.

Ella Fitzgerald is another a favorite of mine, too. While she’s best known for being fun and playful with songs like Mack the Knife and A-Tisket, A-Tasket. Too Darn Hot definitely takes fun and playful to a whole new level, especially in my second-story bedroom on a particular 90-plus-degree day back in July. (Thank goodness for air conditioning!) There’s also something so coquettishly sweet in her renditions of What are You Doing New Year’s Eve? and Moonlight in Vermont. While I can’t say Norah Jones is an Ella Fitzgerald, there’s something so sweet in her hit Don’t Know Why, too.

With jazz, there’s also syncopation, a back beat, or a great bass line that flips my switches like Dusty Springfield’s The Look of Love, Cassandra Wilson’s A Little Warm Death, or Stan Getz playing in the background of Astrud Gilberto singing Corcovado. Often times there is something off-time about Holly Cole, but I think it’s what makes her so real, especially in her version of Everyday Will be Like a Holiday.

Of course, women vocalists are my favorites where torchy jazz standards are concerned, but it doesn’t mean that men don’t turn me on, too. I swear that I’ve Got You Under My Skin and These Foolish Things are the reasons why Mel Torme is known as the Velvet Fog. Rumor has it that Keith Richards was so entranced by Torme’s version of The Nearness of You that when he married his wife, he sang this song to her before all the wedding guests while kneeling down to her.

Nat King Cole … where do I begin? Embraceable You? Unforgettable? Who couldn’t fall in love with that voice … or fall in love because of that voice?

I’ve never been a huge fan on Johnny Hartman on his own, but on a collection of songs he did with John Coltrane that includes My One and Only Love … oh, drop me like a piece of bread in a toaster and call me toast!

If you’re into bad boys, there’s no one quite like Mose Allison, especially in the way he does Lost Mind.

And, of course, no one plays As Time Goes By quite like Dooley Wilson did as Sam in Casablanca.

As clichéd as Tony Bennett’s I Left My Heart in San Francisco might sound, that song actually played behind my tears in my last kisses with my lover 16 years ago. I was the last person to board a plane at SFO. It was the first time we spent together, the most idyllic long weekend I ever had in my life, and I was afraid I would never see him, kiss him, or feel his touch again.

Luckily, I did. It only took us 16 years to make it happen again … several times over.


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