Close Your Eyes

Posted by: aleck rand

Close Your Eyes - 10/10/13 05:50 PM

There is just one prerequisite for listening to this tune, written in 1933 by American composer Bernice Petkere.

You must listen to the rendition by Ruth Etting, still known as "America's Sweetheart of Song," who popularized it in 1933, in order to appreciate the question posed, below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYkpl8RHpX8

Listen to Ruth sing Close Your Eyes and resist the urge to disbelieve the 19 in 1933. True, it may sound like 1833, but we know it can't be. We've come a long way, baby.

The real question is: Why did virtually every worthy jazz musician latch onto this song right up to the present? Answer: GOOD CHANGES! That means there's a compelling, elegant and straight-ahead harmonic logic to the tune. Perfect for playing improvised solos against.

Here's an example of the opposite of some of these criteria. Those who are just beginning to enjoy Jazz probably should steer clear of this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG2DOjU81Bk

Instead, get your ears onto Mike LeDonne's B3 solo in the middle of my rendition, below. There's a technical term for what Mike does. It's called an acute case of "boppin' 'n' burnin'".

Aleck Rand: arrangement,vocal, guitar, organ bass line on Mike's solo.

RT Artists

Mike LeDonne: Hammond B3 with and without bass.
Craig Scott: conga
Terry Clarke: drums

soundcloud.com/aleckrand/close-your-eyes (link no longer valid)
Posted by: Noel96

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 07:21 AM

Hi Dean,

The Ruth Etting version is brilliant. It made me reflect on your comment ...

Quote:
The real question is: Why did virtually every worthy jazz musician latch onto this song right up to the present? Answer: GOOD CHANGES! That means there's a compelling, elegant and straight-ahead harmonic logic to the tune. Perfect for playing improvised solos against.

To be honest, I'm not sure it's as simple as "good changes". I agree with what you are saying but I find myself wondering if this song was only ever written as an instrumental would those "good changes" have had the same impact. Personally, I don't think so.

I bet that a large part of the appeal of this song is because of the lyrics. They are incredibly well written and are a perfect example of how to create lyrics that ring with truth. What I mean by that is when I was listening to Ruth sing, the image of a guy closing his eyes and resting his head on her shoulder was so visual it was like I could nearly touch it. What I call the 'believability factor' of these lyrics is full dial at 100%.

In addition, the lyrics are perfectly aligned with the music so that the conversational spoken stress of each word matches the equivalent musical stress. This alignment is not an easy thing to achieve and such exceptional attention to prosody boosts the lyrics' meaning significantly and makes them ring with honesty and sincerity. (For ease of reference I've copied Ruth Etting's lyrics below. It's well worth reading through them aloud and hearing/feeling how their apparent simplicity resonates with meaning.)

Quote:
Close your eyes
Rest your head on my shoulder and sleep
Close your eyes
And I will close mine

Close your eyes
Let's pretend that we're both counting sheep
Close your eyes
This is divine

Under a midnight sky
Watching a single star
Thrilled by the beauty of above
Alone just you and I
Hearing a steel guitar
Thrilled the beauty of our love

Close your eyes
Rest your head on my shoulder and sleep
Close your eyes
And I will close mine

Close your eyes
Let's pretend that we're both counting sheep
Close your eyes
This is divine

Music play
Something dreamy for dancing
While were here romancing
It's love's holiday
And Love will be our guide

Close your Eyes
When you open them dear
I'll be near by your side
So won't you close your eyes

Moreover, the song form is a variation of AABA (it's AABAACA) and this is an ideal form for lyrics that are grounded in one moment in time. These lyrics are set in that single moment of 'close your eyes'. The lyrics also contain a great deal of repetition and the word count is low. Lastly, these words are also written in direct address (I/you), the most personal perspective.

All the above lyric factors result in words that are incredibly easy to remember. I bet that any musician who plays this tune is singing the words in his or her head while s/he plays. As a result of this, the musician's playing would largely represent an interpretation of the lyrics that are playing through the musician's mind. Without these lyrics, I suspect that the song would not have been nearly as popular.

My observation is that those songs that achieve immense popularity have all elements working perfectly (lyrics, melody, harmony, prosody, believability). Once such a song is heard, all these elements are then in one's mind and colour subsequent performances of the song - even if they are instrumental performances.

Regards,
Noel

P.S. I haven't listened to your version yet. I'll have to come back for that smile
Posted by: Guitarhacker

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 08:01 AM

I enjoyed that, but didn't understand the reasons for comparing 2 versions of Close your eyes to a John Coltrain song..... the jazz styles are totally different.

Both have their points and counter-points. JC is more fusion based and avant-garde....I remember listening to and appreciating JC's work..... although not my favorite jazz artist or style.

I did like your version of this old classic.
Posted by: dani48

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 10:14 AM

Hi, Dean !

Sorry for my late comment !
I have been working on one
of my old tunes !:))

I think your rendition is
just marvellous. I dig the
guitar and your voice suits
this kind of songs extremely well !:))

Cheers
Dani
Posted by: boehm

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 11:00 AM

Hi Dean,

a remarkable remake of this classic.
I love the instrumentation and your voice.

Guenter
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 12:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Noel96
I bet that any musician who plays this tune is singing the words in his or her head while s/he plays. As a result of this, the musician's playing would largely represent an interpretation of the lyrics that are playing through the musician's mind. Without these lyrics, I suspect that the song would not have been nearly as popular.

My observation is that those songs that achieve immense popularity have all elements working perfectly (lyrics, melody, harmony, prosody, believability). Once such a song is heard, all these elements are then in one's mind and colour subsequent performances of the song - even if they are instrumental performances.
Hi Noel,

Your insights serve to highlight how myopic and simplistic my assertions were. I wasn't entirely unaware of this, however you've done a wonderful job of filling in the blanks more accurately and comprehensively than I could have. You also took the time and effort to reproduce the lyrics in order to justify your points. Thank you.

No question that the power of composer Bernice Petkere has elevated the piece into membership in the Great American Songbook, something that surely would not have happened without the lyrics and the voice of Ruth Etting.

Have a look at this wonderful picture of "America's Sweetheart of Song" on the cover of the Radio Mirror, a magazine of the day available for 10 cents:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4c/Ruthetting.jpg

You'll notice the name of Father Charles E. Coughlin at the top of the front page. He was the most influential radio preacher in American history. In the 1930's fully one third of American radios were tuned to his sermons. At the time, Coughlin was one of the most powerful men in the country.

Finally, I hope that my vocal version of Close Your Eyes measures up. At least no one will confuse me with Ruth.

Dean
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 01:38 PM

Hi Guitarhacker,

Good point about the inclusion of Giant Steps as a countervailing example. I don't think anyone will dispute that John Coltrane's composition has come to occupy a central place in modern Jazz education. Students are supposed to learn to solo on it in all 12 keys.

In one famous story, the great pianist Tommy Flanagan was caught completely off guard by this tune, paralyzed by the changes flying by at such speed. But in the end, it is mostly just "2-5" music (the IIm7, V7 subprogression) with too many 2-5's.

I may be risking bringing howls of derision upon me, but I never saw the attraction of Giant Steps as something more than a vehicle for student exercise. I included it to show how extreme chord progressions can be, say, compared to the elegant changes of Close Your Eyes.

Of course, this has no bearing on the awe I have for Trane. But, he's not my favorite tenor, that would be the late Booker Ervin. Especially with my favorite B3 player of that time, Don Patterson.

You gotta here this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHVW_tx6JJM recorded in 1964.

Dean
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 01:43 PM

Guenter - thank you. Have you been following the philosophical subtexts going on? That's what makes these Forums so great. You never know what topic may come up next.

Dean
Posted by: boehm

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/11/13 09:14 PM

Hi Dean,

I even neglected my daily visit to
http://forums.philosophyforums.com/
to follow this thread (if it really exists).

Guenter
Posted by: PgFantastic

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/12/13 02:03 AM

To me the Ruth Etting version was outstanding, impeccabble vocal and it had the hollywood sound of the day; which is timeless. You did a nice version as well! Thanks for sharing!



My Music
Posted by: tommyad

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/12/13 08:45 AM

Aleck, Thanks for posting this in the way that you did. A great education on changes starring Ruth Etting. I liked your guitar work and the use of the B3. Nice work. Tom
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/14/13 10:57 AM

Hi Tom,

Thanks so much. If you search the phrase close your eyes jazz at YouTube, you'll see how many performers have done the tune. My favorite is the version by late saxophonist Gene Ammons.

Aleck
Posted by: Janice & Bud

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/19/13 12:13 PM

I don't have the music background to follow these analyses particularly well but I do have a feel for good music and I liked this a lot. It's a great arrangement with a fine mix and choice of instruments. You guitar and the B3 sounded wonderful together. I like the juxtaposition of the song arrangements that you offered for us to hear. BTW, I was intrigued by the mention of a steel guitar in the Etting lyrics.
Posted by: F.M.M.

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/20/13 02:41 PM

hi aleck I am glad you posted this, great job on your rendition of close your eyes and the links to ruth etting Coltrane, just totally engaging and inspiring for me so much to learn thanks eric
Posted by: gruverider

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/20/13 03:42 PM

a big OH YEAH!!! From the very first chord.
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/21/13 12:18 PM

Thanks Gruverider,

Those two words were exactly what I was hoping to hear.

Aleck
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/21/13 12:21 PM

Hi Eric,

Very thoughtful encouragement from you. I like adding sidelights and background links as introductory material to tunes. I'm really delighted that someone noticed.

Aleck
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/21/13 12:25 PM

Thanks Janice and Bud,

You know, that "steel guitar" phrase jumped out at me as well when I first listened to Ruth Etting's version.

I'm very happy that you liked my take on it. No doubt about it, the Hammond B3 has got to be the greatest invention since the wheel!

Aleck
Posted by: aleck rand

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/23/13 07:34 PM

Thank you so much PGFantastic,

I'm glad that you and Noel enjoyed the classical rendition by Ruth Etting. It is glorious, inspiring, and everyone who's anyone has taken a whack at it. I hope that my version sheds a bit of new light on this great tune.

Dean
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/07/14 11:38 PM

You know, as much as I liked the song, when going through all that analytical material there I couldn't help thinking of that old joke "...is like dissecting a frog - you can't do it without killing the frog!" wink

But as I say, I very much enjoyed the song cool
Posted by: Al-David

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/08/14 12:07 AM

Hi Dean ...

Like several others, the detailed analytics offered by the incredibly talent and knowledgeable folks here went over my head in many instances.

As Bud said, I know good when I hear it ... and I heard it on your version. A very nice update and change of format. You are always creative and innovative with your music. I'm a big fan! Di said, "Nice ... but what the heck does all that stuff mean those other folks were talking about??!! Now I know why I'm a singer and not a musician!"

Very nice, indeed!!! Best to ya ...

Alan & Di
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: Close Your Eyes - 10/09/14 12:24 AM

The academic analysis may be over my head, but I agree with Noel that the lyrics probably provided some of the staying power. I really dug your version-the guitar, the vibe, and the vocal!! Great stuff!! Take care. Gre