Friday, April 03, 2009

What's Playing In My Head: Little Jimmy Scott
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Yeah, I know...Roberta Flack owns it, and she used to sing at Mr. Henry's on Capitol Hill. Upstairs. Gay bar downstairs. Every time Little Jimmy Scott sang at Blues Alley, I was so there, and I am so grateful I was.

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Blogger Cyndy said...

Wow, that brings back a lot of various memories. The first dance tune at my wedding for starters. The first time I ever heard Little Jimmy Scott one night when he showed up at the end of our gig at the old Twins Lounge and sang a couple songs. I have the slightest idea who he was. He sings with such expressive intensity - I don't think I had ever heard such amazing heartfelt singing before, or since for that matter. Did they play that song in the Bridges of Madison County? Now I'm reminded of my little side trip to see them when I was in Iowa last summer. Thanks so much for posting this song!

6:48 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

There was a distinct lack of proofreading there.
The first time I ever heard Jimmy Scott was one night....
I didn't have the slightest idea who he was...

6:51 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Don't worry Cyndy. We ain't fancy around here ::shoving slippers under sofa::: I'm glad you popped by, and thank YOU for sharing your memories of him.

I wrote that in a rush so let me fill it out more:

I forget how I learned about Little Jimmy Scott. Someone gave me a promo of a re-release of his material, I think, then I was trying to get my hands on a lp that I believe Nat King Cole had produced, but well restricted and hidden (since out,) then I got some more cd's and then he came to town.

There was such a line in that alley at Blues, you would not believe. Bitter cold night, but people talking to each other. The man in front of me, very distinguished looking like Clark Peters who played Lester Freamon on The Wire. I told him I never stopped playing Scott in my car. I was in my high end obsession at this point, but his wife or girlfriend laughingly said, "Don't apologize. He's the same way, too."

I think I managed to catch Scott in every show he did in town after that, but it was only a few years, then he cut back on travel in his performances, so what a gift.

The other day, I was talking to a friend about our favorite Jimmy Scott moment and which songs he "owned," even though many were American Songbook standards that would normally go to Sinatra, etc. "The Folks Who Live Upon The Hill." Scott. When Did You Leave Heaven? Scott. I could list twenty.

One song, I swear he owns, and no one else would, is Unchained Melody. Righteous Brothers, right? Wrong. Scott. The way he drags each note out in sorrow and loss? The rhythmic drawing in and out of "lonely to the sea," matching the tidal changes. Perfection. No one can touch him.

Yes to Scott and Clint Eastwood movies. Clint loves jazz in his films. I hated Bridges. I was out to dinner one night and my friends said, "You have GOT to read that book. You won't put it down." I hated it. So the movie came out, and my late friend Dee said, "We have got to go to the Uptown and cry." She cried. I didn't. She was pissed I didn't cry.

For gives until it hurts, but hey...I am singing this for you? Judy Garland and Jimmy Scott. Artists both. Can't touch them. See? I am still blathering about him.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to deliver papers at the Watergate. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway had offices at 2700 Va Ave...same building that was broken into. Let me tell you that security was horrible at the other Watergate apartments. Often times the desk people would be sleeping early Sunday mornings when I needed to get in to do my job. IF a lowly newspaper delivery kid could do it who couldn't?

With that said the song, "The First Time" was featured in Clint Eastwood's movie "Play Misty For Me".


10:17 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Play Misty was such a creepy movie. I am so glad he's not making cliched movies anymore about obsessed women.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thank you for posting this. I had never heard Little Jimmy Scott sing this but was moved to tears by his rendition and the amazing clips of Meryl and Clint. Although I too found the movie itself "unmoving," their expressions in these clips are so intertwined with the words he sings it was haunting.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Kate: The movie didn't touch me at all, while all around me people were sobbing and loving it. I dunno. Maybe I don't like Iowa. I always love discovering unkown musical artists. Scott's an odd character. Very small. Odd voice, you could swear is female...or maybe not....upon first hearing it, but the man can hold and bend a note. He doesn't sing with the same power anymore,but then he's up there in age, but...still alive.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I'm going to have to get a CD - maybe I can find him doing Unchained Melody.

The main things I liked about that movie were the old houses and the scenery. Nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. I had a chance to go on some of those backroads in Iowa last summer so I saw the bridges for myself. There was a sign on the highway - I had no idea they'd be sort of on the way.

1:56 AM  

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