Thursday, January 29, 2009

Something Cool

Performed by June Christy (1955)
Written by Hollywood composer/lyricist Billy Barnes.

"Something Cool" is an unusual jazz standard that became June Christy's signature song. Its lyrics are an extended narrative, full of emotional complexity.

In response to an offer to buy her a drink, a girl in a bar tells you she wants "something cool." It's warm here, she tells us, and she's far from home. She can't seem to remember your name, but she must know you from somewhere, because she never drinks with strangers. You offer her a cigarette:

"A cigarette? / Well, I don't smoke them as a rule /
But I'll have one / it would be fun / with something cool."

She tells you about her glory days, when she lived in a large house, had lots of suitors and took trips to Paris. But that's in the past. Returning to the moment:

"About a date? / Oh wait / I'm such a fool /
He's just a guy / who stopped to buy me /Something cool."

This ballad contains so much narrative, emotional baggage and character development, that it is a unique entry in the library of jazz standards.

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