Chet Baker – “I Get Along Without You Very Well”

Year: 1956

Album: Chet Baker Sings

It starts with stardust keys. A celesta. A wink in some lonesome night. Then a whisper. It’s a man trying to sing, or a woman. Can’t tell from just listening. But it’s Chet. He didn’t write the words – that’d be Jane Brown Thompson – nor did he write the music. That’s Hoagy Carmichael. Both Hoosiers. This kid’s from Oklahoma pretending to be West Coast Cool Kid. Trying to make this Hoosier song his own. That’s his job. Rehearse, jump in, make love, get out. He already has a look and a feel. (“James Dean, Sinatra, and Bix, rolled into one,” says David Gelly). It’s all there. Almost.

Back to the song. It’s a sad song. He’s trying to tell a joke with a frown. The joke’s on him. It always is. Not a lot of time. Start slow. Stay slow. Steady. What’s this song about? Soft rain? The moon? Sure. Why not. Not bad. Steady now. There it goes.

The album is Chet Baker Sings because Chet Baker is a trumpeter, and who in jazz sings man? Baloney. Well Chet Baker does, and it’s not a question of whether or not he’s a good singer. Some think he’s trash. I think he’s lovely. Elton John thought he was trash and lovely. You can exist anywhere on the spectrum and still compel the soul. You just got to sound true and like you mean it, even if you’re faking it. Baker ain’t faking it because his well-known drug problem served as a backdrop for his entire career as the struggle to stay alive just to sing sing sing and play play play. So it goes.

Valentine’s Day Is Coming Up, So Here’s A Sad Chet Baker Song

Nothing says Singles Awareness Day Valentine’s Day like a sad song with the word VALENTINE in it. This song was actually written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, but you might recognize the Etta James version which Kanye West samples.

Music History 101: The Life Of Famous Jazz Trumpeter and Singer Chet Baker

Chet+Baker

One of my favorite artists of any genre is Chet Baker, the late jazz trumpeter who had one of the most unique (and beautiful) singing styles. He was one of the most recognizable musicians of West Coast cool jazz, and his life was full of enough charisma and drug addiction that he helped make jazz itself cooler for a wider audience (he was often known as the James Dean of jazz, and for good reason).

The following video is Let’s Get Lost, a two hour documentary about the life of Chet Baker. The movies goes back and forth between Chet’s early years as a raw talent and his last years as a struggling drug addict (Chet died in 1988 from falling out of his hotel room in Amsterdam. He was 58 years old).

Let’s Get Lost is a fascinating documentary that is worth two hours of your time, regardless of how much you know about Baker or of jazz music in general.

 

I highly recommend Chet Baker’s music, especially Chet Baker Sings.

Playlist: 15 Songs For July 2012 (Via Spotify)

This month’s playlist is a bit on the sadder side. I’ve got ballads and sad songs from Bruce Springsteen, Chet Baker, Glen Campbell, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen. But don’t worry, I’ve also got some upbeat summer songs to top off July.

Here are my 15 songs for July 2012.