Sunday, June 22, 2014

"The Nearness of You" - by Haogy Carmichael (1941) 2 Versions

There are two ways in which I wanted to approach this post. The first was through Keith Richards’ autobiography “Life”; which I am in the process of re-reading. I wanted to simply compare the original version of this song by Hoagy Carmichael with the one recorded by Mr. Richards along about 1979. It was written in 1941 and has been recorded by just about every major name in show business. But it’s not a song you would usually associate with Keith Richards.

The second approach was more along the lines of “look what happens to the Rolling Stones whenever Mick Jagger leaves the stage.” In the video above the band backs Keith in his rendition of “The Nearness of You”, and towards the end he performs a beautiful guitar solo in the way in which only he can.

It’s a bit like the performance of “You’ve Got the Silver” in the “Shine a Light” concert at the Beacon Theater. (I was actually on the list for the $25 tickets and didn’t go!) There was all this high rock and roll energy filling the air one moment and then this beautiful, cooling performance by Keith and Ron Wood; mesmerizing the audience with the song.

The best part of watching the performance of this Hoagy Carmichael song is the back story. In the book “Life” the author recounts having made a tape of himself, along with Bobby Keys, doing a version of the song.  He then gave it to an associate who forwarded it on to Mr. Carmichael. This is about 6 months before Mr. Carmichael passed away in 1981. He actually listened to it and took the time to phone Keith Richards in Barbados to tell him how much he admired it.

As a matter of fact he claimed that Keith Richards version was closer to the way he had originally conceived the song! To say that Keith was bowled over by the phone call would be a major understatement. So, here are the Stones; sans Mick Jagger; doing a wonderful version of the song written by Mr. Carmichael over 70 years ago.

And here is the link to Hoagy’s version; I was unable to find any live footage and I couldn’t get the big machine to allow me to download the audio except by a link.

Mr. Carmichael circa 1953

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