Song Of The Day 11/12/2015: Della Reese – “It Was a Very Good Year”

Quarterly Covers Report – “It Was a Very Good Year” was composed in 1961 by Ervin Drake – given name Irving Maurice Druckman – who, despite having written this classic AARP bellwether over fifty years ago, only died last January at the age of 95. It was written for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio, a folk act who were all over that village square action. Frank Sinatra loved the song so much he called Gordon Jenkins, whom we just spoke about recently, in the middle of the night and begged for a string arrangement with oboe somewhere. It’s of course Frank’s version to which we now all morosely drink our scotches on the rocks whilst stumbling over the ottoman, landing on our backsides, measuring the fragility of our hip and reverting to sordid memories of “the one who got away” as we stood there stupidly, maws gaping, language leaving through the back exit abandoning our tongues rolling into mute folds, in our impotent letterman sweaters. Why, Tuesday Weld, why??

Della Reese’s cover wasn’t having any of that. It won’t even let you stand still. It mourns no one, it wants for nothing, and Della’s just going to walk around your corpse. Maybe you should go read one of those supermarket self-help books or something. There are two miracles in this rendition: (a) Della, who was in TV's faith-mashup Touched By an Angel, turns the song's magisterial self-mythology into an aggressively carnal remembrance, taking the garden-fresh stoicism and kicking it to the curb. That is a good thing. And (b) That drum pattern is seriously one of the funkiest I’ve ever heard. That is not a misprint: Such funkiness is to be found in a cover of “It Was a Very Good Year,” by the former Irving Gluckman. I’m going to guess it’s been sampled by every hip hop artist alive, right? No? Well, producers, guess what you're doing tonight.

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