… and it happened like this (Gorme has died, at the age of 84): I was singing and playing through Latin Songs and I discovered one song in particular that I really loved: Sabrás que te Quiero.

I did the thing I often do: I played and sang it again and again, trying to find the energy, flow, control, lightness, and expressivity in my voice (all of those things being really difficult for me to evoke), and at the same time trying to find a way to work my inept fingers through the piano accompaniment. The version in Latin Songs was quite dumbed down, but it still took me awhile to feel comfortable in the piece.

I’m not sure why I liked it so much. It’s simple, I guess, but it has that weird thing that good songs have. Despite its simplicity, it gets to you, it’s beautiful, emotional, even somehow musically interesting… It works its way up from quiet notes to amorous excited notes at the end…

Anyway, I also did a thing I often do — checked for YouTubes of the number.

I didn’t know it was a standard; there were plenty of versions, male and female, to be had.

The one I loved above all the others was Eydie Gorme’s — and this despite the fact that the musical arrangement was way kitschy. Her voice was so good it easily rose above the instrumental dreck. It had all that stuff I listed above, the stuff I find on any given day at the piano so difficult to pull from within myself — energy, flow, etc., etc. Occasionally, on mysteriously special days, UD‘s voice wakes up in the morning with all of those attributes, and I walk it over to the piano and just let loose through all of my songbooks… I sit there for hours marveling at this sudden vocal rightness I hear myself producing. But it’s utterly fickle, utterly unusual, that my voice does that.

Great singers, like Gorme and Cecilia Bartoli and Kathleen Battle and Ella Fitzgerald just have it there all the time, the sweet spot, and you can see that they have the personality that accompanies it. By this I mean that there’s a rather strange nervy buoyancy, a headstrong brilliancy, to all of them as human beings (this nervy buoyancy can be much darker, as in Nina Simone or Maria Callas, but I think it’s the same basic attribute of intense unstoppable essentially celebratory life energy which has managed to discipline itself in the direction of the production of sound) which allows them to carry a song tonally and emotionally, and even own it.

I was aware of Gorme’s tricks — the melismas; the sly dynamics on certain long notes; the whispering shyness of the opening lines which broadens until she produces the positively cosmic vibrato at the very end (it’s oddly and excitingly masculine in its muscularity, this final vibrato, suggesting the transcendent strength of her passion); the slight catch — a little cry – at certain moments; the coy curvature of some sounds, which has the effect of personalizing this as one particular woman’s love song… I was as aware of these tricks as I am when listening to Battle, who for my money has the purest and sweetest and most unearthly of soprano voices.

I wanted to hear more of Gorme. Song after song, she found the meaning of the piece, entered into it, and brought that weird and for me pretty unattainable mix of control and flow and overflow to it. She was a pop singer, no doubt about it, a creature of Vegas lounges and corny stage banter. But – like the kitsch accompaniment to her Sabrás que te Quiero – that stuff had nothing to do with the voice.

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3 Responses to “I got onto Eydie Gorme just a few weeks ago…”

  1. Bill Gleason Says:

    Eydie Gorme was a great singer. I like her stuff without Steve Lawrence just because you can hear her better, although in many songs their duet singing is perfect.

    I also liked the juxtaposition of Callas and Ella Fitzgerald.

    As Louis Armstrong wrote in a letter: In fact, it’s ‘All Music. “You ‘Dig? (his punctuation)

  2. Barbara MacDonald Allport Says:

    Steve and Eydie did an amazing lounge version of Stone Temple Pilots’s Black Hole Sun. She took a song from a completely different genre and made it her own. It shows what a great singer she was.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55rtXg0ZsLE

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Barbara: Wild. Thanks for sending.

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