Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Foolish Heart

Supreme jazz pianist Bill Evans performs with his trio (from the 1960s). Pianist Marian McPartland said that, after Evans' death, she could not bring herself to perform "My Foolish Heart."

My Foolish Heart is an Academy Award-nominated song published in 1949. The music was written by Victor Young with lyrics by Ned Washington. The song was introduced by the singer Martha Mears in the 1949 film of the same name. The song became a popular success, with two recordings of the song listed among the top 30 on the Billboard charts in 1950. Gordon Jenkins's recording of My Foolish Heart reached #22 and Billy Eckstine's version reached #28.

Later recordings were made of this standard by numerous artists, including Bill Evans, Joe Williams with George Shearing, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Carmen McRae, Elkie Brooks, Astrud Gilberto and Mel Tormé. More recently, "My Foolish Heart" has been covered by pianists Liz Story and Keith Jarrett, guitarists John McLaughlin and John Abercrombie, Charlie Haden's Quartet West, singers Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau, Jane Monheit, Ann Hampton Callaway and (a capella quartet) The Idea of North.

To hear the lyrics, listen to this straight-forward vocal rendition by cabaret singer Margaret Whiting:

The night is like a lovely tune, beware my foolish heart!
How white the ever constant moon, take care, my foolish heart!
There's a line between love and fascination,
That's hard to see on an evening such as this,
For they give the very same sensation.
When you are lost in the passion of a kiss.
Your lips are much too close to mine, beware my foolish heart!
But should our eager lips combine, then let the fire start.
For this time it isn't fascination, or a dream that will fade and fall apart,
It's love this time, it's love, my foolish heart!

I was privileged to hear Kurt Elling perform this song at the Montreal Jazz Festival in July, 2007. Interestingly, he incorporates a 7th-century poem by Rabi'a of Basra (the first female Suni Muslim mystic saint) in the middle of his rendition.

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