Johnny Carson, This One’s For You

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In a blog I ‘penned’ earlier in the week, I ‘wrote’ that I’d find it very hard to list my top 10 favourite songs but that if I was to try, Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster’s ‘The Shadow Of Your Smile’ would be in it. Another song which would definitely be in the list would be the late, legendary Johnny Carson’s favourite, “Here’s That Rainy Day”, one of the most beautiful ‘Standards’, written by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke.

I ‘wrote’ in my ‘The Shadow Of Your Smile’ blog that many musicians and artists have covered the song and that, usually, when Frank Sinatra covers a song, it’s THE version. However, I went on to ‘write’ that, in the case of that song, perhaps, for me, Tony Bennett’s is THE version.

There are some beautiful versions/covers of “Here’s That Rainy Day” but, this time, I do think that Frank’s is THE version.

Here are a few of the great covers:

1) Frank Sinatra

From ‘Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing’, a 1968 TV ‘Special’, a medley:

‘Glad To Be Unhappy’, “Here’s That Rainy Day”, ‘It Never Entered My Mind’, ‘Gone With The Wind’ and then back to “Here’s That Rainy Day”, I watched this excerpt again this evening and it hit me, as it often does, that I don’t just love Frank’s music…I’m IN LOVE with it. The Billy May, Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle and, on this occasion, Don Costa arrangements, the music is exquisite, dreamy, it’s heavenly like no other music is for me. Frank, delivering this medley and, in particular, “Here’s That Rainy Day”, he is mesmerising. Frank turns a beautiful song into one of life’s good things:

It really is very difficult to follow that but here goes…

2) Chet Baker

Chet Baker is one of my favourite musicians, not just as a trumpeter but, before his body caved in under the onslaught of drugs, he sung beautifully (example, ‘My Funny Valentine’). To deliver music like he did, he must have had such a gentle, sensitive soul and yet he was so self-destructive. How can a person produce this performance of “Here’s That Rainy Day” whilst suffering so much? It is beyond me:

3) Bill Evans

Another tragic life, a man who gave us such sweet, beautiful music yet destroyed himself. Oh, those demons!! His interpretation of the music is as sensitive as Chet Baker’s:

4) Nancy Wilson

The arrangement, the orchestration, the production, the exquisite voice of Nancy Wilson serving up a deep, warm, sultry “Here’s That Rainy Day”, this is wonderful:

5) Ella Fitzgerald

Oh, go on then, Ella, do it again to me, make me cry!

6) Sarah Vaughan

Ella is the Queen but Sarah Vaughan is a member of the jazz royal family. I can watch and listen to this performance over and over again…

7) Natalie Cole

What a talent! This is a big, lavish production and I prefer the simpler covers but it’s still terrific:

8) Judy Garland

How does she do it, produce a beautifully simple yet, at the same time, powerful, dramatic, heartrending performance? This is special:

9) Sammy Davis Jnr (with Laurindo Almedia)

This complement says it all: if Frank hadn’t given us his rendition, I think this cover by Sammy would have been my favourite  –  I LOVE Sammy’s singing!

10) Wait a sec…I’ve changed my mind…if Frank hadn’t given us his “Here’s That Rainy Day”, THIS cover would have been my favourite:

Yes, I know, this list is going on a bit but I have to include these next two and then, I promise, I’ll stop.

11) Oscar Peterson

The man is a genius!!!

12) Wes Montgomery

I imagine, I don’t know, but I imagine that the great George Benson is a huge admirer of Wes Montomery  –  surely Wes blazed a trail which George trod?? This is sublime:


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