Just a Skirt and a Combo


I know with my established passion for cheesy 80s dance music like Pet Shop Boys and their ilk, it may not be expected to hear that I’m equally wild for the torchy, bluesy female jazz singers of the 40s and the 50s. Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London – love’em. Billie Holiday, of course, because, you know, I’m gay, and my absolute favorite, Dinah Washington, They all have such strong clear voices, but Washington’s has an added complexity I love.

Etta James is also a big fave. She frequently sang songs that would normally have been more appropriate for men, songs where she was apologizing for breaking her lover’s heart and asking for a another chance to go fuck, and this time she won’t stomp on their tender emotions, honest. Chumps. Her worse choices tended to be the standards that were the mainstays of all her contemporaries. Her cover of “Someone to Watch Over Me” is painful and when she sings “I’ll Be Seeing You” it sounds less like a promise and more like a threat. “Yeah. I’ll be seeing you, bitch, and I got a knife.” She’s so much better sticking with the ever dreamy “At Last.”

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

4 responses »

  1. do you have that Etta James singing Billie Holiday cd?“Mystery Lady” I think it was called.(I had it on cassette before the deluge)It was wonderful, a side of Etta I hadn’t heard before.


  2. I love all those gals, some of my favorite albums, and was fortunate enough to attend live shows by Ella, Sarah, and Lena Horne. Not together, of course, but still immensely wonderful!


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