Led by Frank Sinatra, the generation that emerged during and after World War II raised the performance of the popular song to the level of art. Gene Lees' fascinating book examines some of the most gifted of these singers, including Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford, and Sarah Vaughan.
Far from being the simple intuitive performers the public thought it knew, these people emerge--in Singers and the Song--as intelligent, skillful, and fully conscious artists dedicated to their work. Lees also discusses the composers, including the great film composer, Hugo Friedhodfer, and the supremely talented lyricist, Johnny Mercer; explores the language of the popular song; focuses on the social history of twentieth-century America, seen through the mirror of popular music; and examines the theme of war, from the Viking conquest of northwestern France, through World War II, to the present.
'Gene Lees shows how our anemic language can be transfused with emotion by turning words into song ... he cherishes words as much as he loves music'
New York Times Book Review 'beautifully crafted essays ... Few rock writers begin to approach his grasp of the evolution of his chosen music.'
Q 'Lots of amusing and fascinating stories emerge about the creation of particular songs'
Colin Cooper, Beat Scene 'the best book on popular singers that I have ever read ... he writes like a dream, combining scholarship with insight, musicianship with approachability for the layman'
Stage & Television Today 'Gene Lees, a lyric writer himself, is not only an extraordinarily perceptive reporter and analyst of jazz performance, jazz history and jazz people, but also one of those writers who's a joy to read on any subject at all.' Bookworld 'The way the essays flow together, Singers and the Song has the sweep of a jazz-orchestral suite organized around recurrent motifs.' The New York Times 'A collection of fascinating personal essays that have appeared in Jazzletter.' Library Journal 'Lees is writing some of the best popular commentary on jazz, classic American popular song, their practitioners, and their milieu that ever has been written.' Booklist 'a treasure of essays that explores the technique of lyric writing.' Newsday 'Lees is a superb writer, erudite, compassionate, sensitive and knowledgeable.'
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times `A book to be enjoyed...I recommend it' Gene Kelly