The default on my satellite radio is 73, "Seriously Sinatra," which is almost always great, not least because you get to hear guest disc jockeys like Steve Lawrence talk about singing, maybe sing a few bars and tell an anecdote. There was the time Steve was sitting alone and Dean Martin walked in and said "Hello Steve and Eydie."
This afternoon we're listening to the singer Julius La Rosa, who was once famous for quitting (or being fired from) Arthur Godfrey's morning TV show. He was the show's singer, and a damned good one, but he had the nerve to ask for a raise. Godfrey said he "lacked humility." At least that's how I remember it, but I was maybe ten years old at that time, so I'm not ceertain I have all the details right.
Brooklyn boy "Julie" La Rosa is playing Sinatra's definitive "One for My Baby" to illustrate how Sinatra "acted the song." This is an insight one has heard before, but now La Rosa is advancing the thesis that Sinatra "improved" Cole Porter, To do so, La Rosa relies on his reliable baritone to demonstrate the rhythmical difference between what the "melodically magnificent" Porter wrote and Sinatra's swinging rendition of the first line of "I've Got You Under My Skin." The melody is indeed marvelous, but Porter's equally marvelous lyric requires a different rhythm -- the behind-the-beat finger-snapping swing that Sinatra perfected. Now La Rosa is playing the Sinatra cover. I shall pause for three minutes and forty three seconds to listen. Sublime.
Now La Rosa is doing the same thing with "It Was Just One of Those Things." And now "I Get a Kick Out of You." He sings the opening bars as written and then he sings the same in the Sinatra manner to show that Sinatra discovered the song within the song -- the rhythmical delivery without which Porter's music and words would be incomplete. How often have I listened to Sinatra's take on Porter in such Nelson Riddle-arranged records as "Songs for Swinging Lovers" and "Songs for Young Lovers / Swing Easy." But LaRosa has come up with the best radio intro to this trio of Porter tunes that I have ever heard. DL