Friday, October 13, 2006

Hunting lessons

Before leaving SF for LA, we had sunday brunch at the Garden Court of the Palace Hotel. It's a splurge, but it was my birthday. The last time we had sunday brunch there, they had a string quartet. This time, there was a jazz trio. I asked them to play "God Bless the Child" for Iris. They were not familiar with the song which amazed me because I thought it was a jazz standard. However, they found some sheet music and played it for us anyway.

By coincidence, yesterday, Michele Norris interviewed Gladys Knight on NPR. They played a portion of Knight's renditon of "God Bless the Child" and discussed Billie Holiday who is most strongly associated with the song, having recorded it many times. Knight's version is very different from Holiday's but she said that "the point was still there", as applicable today as then. "You gotta get it for yourself."
Rich relations give, a crust of bread and such.
You can help yourself, but don't take too much.
Mama may have, papa may have,
but god bless the child that's got his own.
It is another way to say a mother's job is not done until she has taught her cub to hunt for herself.

How popular is the song if 3 professional jazz musicians had not heard of it? I discovered over 50 versions of the song for sale (and sampling) at itunes. I own several versions and each artist has her own take on the song. But Dinah Washingtons' renditon is my favorite. Like Gladys Knight said in the interview, "Dinah was power."

I forgot to tell Iris. In one of my superhero counterlifes, I want to be a jazz diva.

1 comment:

  1. I love this song too, Grace - your comments hit home as I experienced something similar.

    My husband and I requested it of the jazz trio on a cruise ship and they knew it, but were really surprised at the request! Maybe part of the surprise was that the request was coming from a 30ish couple, but I always thought this song was an old standard!

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