This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Whenever someone asks me who my favorite female singer is I'll usually say Cecelia Bartoli. Sometimes I'll say Jessye Norman or to be different, Kathleen Ferrier.
Of course, most people who ask that question aren't interested in classical music, or they think I'm being perverse (always a possibility) so they modify the question.
I then mentally review the situation – Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Nina Simone, Etta James, Julie London, Patsy Cline. However, on reflection, the one I seem to enjoy most is JENNIFER WARNES.
Of course, that could change next week. In the meantime, here is a column of her music.
I'll start with the first song I first heard that registered her name in my brain. This is from her excellent album from the seventies called "Shot Through the Heart." It wasn't her first but I didn't know that at the time.
The song is I Know a Heartache When I See One.
From that same album comes a song from Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite Bob Dylan album, "New Morning." The song is Sign on the Window.
Here's a song I can empathise with although less so today than it was when I was younger. I imagine Jennifer feels the same way. Pissed Off 2 AM.
Early on, Jennifer was a back-up singer for Leonard Cohen.
She later progressed to co-singer and later still recorded an album of his songs called “Famous Blue Raincoat,” easily the best covers of Lennie's songs anyone has done. From that album we have the title song.
From the beginning Jennifer sang duets with many people - Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Roy Orbison, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Sam & Dave, Bobby Womack, and Tina Turner are just a few of them.
There are a couple of others you can probably come up with (who won't be in the column, even though they won Oscars). I've selected JACKSON BROWNE.
They recorded a couple of the songlets from The Beatles' "Abbey Road" album. They call it Golden Slumbers.
Another song from her Lennie album is the first on that disk, and maybe the most interesting, First We Take Manhattan.
Another duet, and they don't get much better than HARRY BELAFONTE with whom to sing. The song is Skin To Skin, and Harry sounds as if he's 20 years old. I imagine Jennifer would do that for any red blooded male.
From considerably earlier in her career, Jennifer recorded one of Jimmy Webb's songs (well, probably more than one, but it's a particular one we're interested in today).
In this case, it was a song that I've not heard anyone else perform apart from Jimmy himself. That song is P.F. Sloan. It's about another singer/songwriter whose main claim to fame is that he wrote the song Eve of Destruction.
I had half a dozen songs penciled in for this spot, so I ran them past the A.M. She chose this one. It's another duet, this time Jennifer has DOYLE BRAMHALL along to help out.
Doyle also plays guitar on the track which is the Eddy Arnold/Cindy Walker classic, You Don't Know Me. On this they really give Ray Charles a run for his money in pure passion. It's terrific.
From her album "The Hunter” thus the following photo, I've selected the song Lights of Louisianne.
You can probably tell from the title that there's a Cajun influence in the song. You'd be right.