The song of the day for Friday, May 31, 2013 is Revolvin’ Jones.
About This Song
Revolvin’ Jones was written in 1940 by jazz pianist and composer Willard Robison. Willard Robison is somewhat of an enigma: on one hand, he was a successful jazz pianist and band leader during the Roaring 20s; on the other hand, he wrote songs that defy description. Jazz guitarist Matt Munistieri, who recently released an album of Robison songs entitled Still Running ‘Round in the Wilderness (available on iTunes), writes in the liner notes for his CD regarding one of Robison’s early songs I’ll Have The Blues Until I Get To California:
… it was the first of a couple dozen of his own utterly unclassifiable songs that he would get to commit to acetate over the next decade. Like most of his 1920s records it was both rootsy and ethereal, somehow distanced from its folkish tale by its rakish harmonic conceits; humourous and bluesy, yet spectral and out of place. Also like most of his songs, it contained the bones of a story and a characters, and yet it was not written to serve the plot of a Broadway musical-nor for any established stars of the day, nor any particularly fashionable or marketable style. Not jazz, pop, or folk, or art song…one might be forgiven for wondering if he had simply written it to satisfy himself. And in an era marked by the incessant pulse of hot jazz, his songs stood apart as quieter, personal, reflective, character-driven evocations.
Unfortunately, most of Robison’s recordings only exist on 78s and very few are currently available.
For more information about Willard Robison, including a photograph of him and lyrics for Revolvin’ Jones, see The Interactive Tony Bennett Discography (still under construction, but usable).
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded Revolvin’ Jones in 1962 for the canceled On The Glory Road, which is, gloriously, now available. When I first heard this song, I could hardly believe my ears. I fell in love with the song, Bennett’s wonderful take on the song, and its humor in the first few seconds. It’s different than much of what you may be used to hearing from Tony Bennett, but it’s completely in line with much of what he was doing on this album, including De Glory Road, which he sang in his June 1962 concert at Carnegie Hall.
Revolvin’ Jones, as well as the entire On The Glory Road album, is available from iTunes.