Friday, July 18, 2008


Listen to UP, UP, AND AWAY by Ray Conniff.

John here. I came across Ray Conniff the same way everyone does: grandparents. There for the holidays, it was either Johnny Mathis or Ray Conniff, cheese or snow. After having heard Johnny’s Christmas classics many times, the choice was Ray.

Ray’s main idea was to take a popular song and strip it down to its underlying rhythm and harmony. Next, he replaced any depth removed by the extraction of a fuzzy guitar or a cracking solo with winsome instrumental flourishes and vocals. Or rather a choir: 12 women and 13 men singing in unison. It’s the pleasure principle in practice.

Ray’s tune quiver contained a lot numbers in the lush 60’s style, so although many don’t sound too distant from their root to our ears, the generation gap was a bit wider then. How else could my ageing grandparents have known the hits of the Beatles (gasp - longhairs!) or Simon and Garfunkel (egad - folk beatniks!)? I like that – can’t imagine my own parents walking around humming “Knives Out”.

Today’s track is a Jimmy Webb classic made famous by the Fifth Dimension (and others) and is almost impossible not to like. Hey, it's Friday ... Easy as she goes!

Photo: swinging.


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