Tag Archives: Great American Songbook

“I Love You for Sentimental Reasons . . .”

“I love you for sentimental reasons . . .”

Yes, indeed, and I love singing that sweet old song and so many more of the “Great American Songbook” songs, songs like “It Had to Be You,” “The Very Thought of You,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and my favorite of all, “Unforgettable” (unforgettably rendered by Nat King Cole in tones of velvet).

Old songs for sure. In order, above—1945, 1924, 1934, 1936, and 1951.

I love them so much that I went to Nashville to get some unforgettable musicians to record some world-class tracks, record a little myself, and make some music, not least because I want my grandkids to learn a little about this legacy of sweet music that is theirs, too.

Add this to the other projects I’ve recorded, and my grandkids will probably have plenty of cupcake platters, small Frisbees, and leaky saucers once I’m gone. Their imaginations are the only limits for the way those things could be used. But it’s been worth it. All told, I’ve sold a few thousand and hope to sell a few more. No gold or platinum records. But I’ve supported my music habit, done a few hundred program/concerts, and loved it!

All to say . . .

I like to sing anytime. “Christian” music (more about that in a minute). Christmas music (let it snow!). Even a song or two that walk a bit on the “country” side. (That was a surprise.) And more.

But I’ll confess that the biggest surprise to me has been singing these sweet old American classic “luuuuv” songs. If anybody had told me ten years ago that a couple of weeks ago I’d be singing such songs for a good-sized group of nice folks at a Valentine’s Banquet at a Baptist church in San Angelo, I’d have laughed and maybe burst into song. Something on the order of “The Very Thought of THAT”!

I’ve been a little surprised to find that the time right around Valentine’s Day would have been much on my radar at all. Just ask my wife. But it is! And the music, and the nice folks who enjoy it, have been the reason.

For sure, at a banquet such as that one (it was so much fun!), I’ll sing a song or a few specifically about the best love of all, a song with words about God’s love, God’s grace, and God’s best gift.

But here’s a principle I hope we always remember.

All real truth is God’s truth. All genuine beauty is God’s beauty. All that really is truly good comes from the Father. If it’s genuinely good, joyful, and loving, it’s God’s, and we should thank him for it.

These truths are worth pondering and discussing as the ripples from this basic reality reach out into the whole “pond.” Even into some old songs.

I know, the songs I chose to record are “syrup-py” by design. Nightingales sing. Moonglow brings on swoons. Hearts go pitter-patter. Throw in a saxophone, and you’ll slide right out of your seat. And it’s all fun and built into the DNA of the genre. I savvy “poetic license.” (I admit that a couple of songs I looked at and chose not to record had lyrics that I just thought were a little “over the top.” Syrup has its place; “love as a god,” though . . .)

But “Christian” music (and art and literature, etc.) is not just music with religious-sounding words—or even any words at all; it’s music that moves our souls, lifts us (to gratitude, laughter, tears), washes over us with beauty, taps (often poignantly) into what is deeply joyful, sorrowful, lovely. It touches our souls. And sometimes, it just delights us with a few sweet measures of fun. All of this honors the Artist who is the real Source of all beauty.

For sure, when the time is right, let’s sing “Amazing Grace.” Let’s play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” And, yes, let’s smile, our beloved’s hand in ours, as we hum, “Unforgettable.” And let’s not forget to give God thanks for them all.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Good Hearts Have Room for Lots of Good Songs

 

I keep thinking that the folks up, way up, at the Red River Community House (Red River, New Mexico, elevation 8,650 feet) will one day wise up and get tired of us, but they haven’t yet. So this Sunday morning my wife and I were at RRCH on yet another of a nice string of Labor Day/Red River weekends.

I helped lead worship at the Community House this morning, and I’ll be singing a concert there this evening featuring some of the great old “American Songbook” songs,” the ones lots of us have in our memories resonating with the velvet tones of Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and on we could go. And on we do go as those sweet tunes live on.

I’m not sure how sweet my tones will be, but not much is better than getting to croon a tune when your lungs are filled with crisp mountain air, your heart is uplifted by the smiles of friends and warm music, and everyone there is being enfolded into the loving embrace of the sturdy log timbers of a building that’s been a community treasure since it opened in 1940.

Count on it, the open rafters at the Community House have heard these tunes many times before. Come to think of it, at least two of the songs I’ll sing tonight were top hits at some point during the 40s, and most were still favorites.

“For Sentimental Reasons” is a great song—even better, I think, when paired with Nat King Cole, who is pretty much always my favorite. (Tonight I’ll definitely be singing one of his signature songs, “Unforgettable,” though Irving Gordon didn’t write it until 1951. Had Gordon gone with his “working title,” which was both bad English and a bad title, I doubt we’d be singing, “Uncomparable.” But as it is, wow!).

“I’ll Be Seeing You” is another of the 40s tunes. It’s a romantic melody for sure, but it became a love song not just for lovers but for parents and families and siblings and anyone sending a loved one off to war and to an unknown future in terribly difficult and uncertain times. The quintessential song of World War II, this love song was almost a whispered prayer, too, and often accompanied by tears.

I was singing some of these sweet songs at a retirement home several years ago when a dear lady approached me to say, “I remember going to New York City to be reunited with my husband who’d been sent back to the States on a hospital ship. Together again, we danced to those songs.”

It would be a compliment of the highest order if a dance broke out tonight (as has happened many times before at the Community House) and some members of that “greatest generation” were leading out. For so many years, they led us so well.

A bridal shower is being held at the Community House right now. A new life-song is evidently being written. In a couple of hours, we’ll be there sharing some old songs. I like that.

New lives and old lives. Old songs and new songs. My grandkids are bringing in some great new ones, and they also really like some of the songs PawPaw sings, too. Good hearts have room for lots of good songs, old and new.

That’s what “community” is about, right? Sharing what is precious.

Starting this day off at the Community House with Christians of all sorts praising the God of us all. Ending the day there with more sweet songs.

I call that precious indeed.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


All Genuine Joy Is God’s Joy

 

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All genuine joy is God’s joy.

And that’s my defense, if I need one, for my new music album (For Sentimental Reasons) that comes out this week.

The album’s already passed the real test: my biggest fans like it. Those would be, of course, my grandchildren.

My four-year-old grandson, more than capable of singing for you a fine, though a bit unusual, medley of “Long Black Train” and “Let It Snow!” (his two favorite songs from my previous albums), has announced that his favorite tune from the new CD is “It Had to Be You.” Nice choice. Since I sing this song as a duet with his mother (who did an incredible job), I was particularly pleased with his choice.

My newest grandchild, a sweet little girl, is just a month old; it’s too early to expect her to review the album verbally. But her parents have recorded her reaction to the songs. I smiled as I watched the video review they sent on her behalf.

At first, she’s fussing a bit, working her way up to a pretty loud cry, but then Mom and Dad start playing the album. Startled, she cries harder for about two seconds, then quietens, snuggles down into the music. I like to think she’s recognizing her PawPaw’s voice, but one thing’s sure: hearing the music, that lovely little lass settles down right before my eyes and sinks into sweet sleep. I love it!

I’m not sure if this music will be that potent an anesthetic for most folks, but if it provides just a little bit of sweet relaxation for many who hear it, I’ll be very pleased. The world needs more of such. More peace. More calm. More beauty. More deep joy.

In the album “liner notes,” I wrote this: “What a privilege to work with so many amazingly talented folks to make this album! Our prayer is that every note sung and played in these sweet old songs is filled with the genuine love and deep joy of the Author of all real love, all real joy.”

I mean what I wrote. You see, my first love will always be singing songs with words that point overtly to God’s love, but real love, real joy, all come from the same Source.

I never thought I’d make a recording composed of some of what have been called the “Great American Songbook” songs, some of the sweetest old “love” songs from, say, the 1920s to early 50s. Of course, some songs from that era have words I just can’t sing. But the ones I chose, I dearly love to sing. Even the ones that may be a little long on “syrup” are sweet musical treasures it’d be a shame for our world to lose.

Don’t worry! I won’t be singing “Unforgettable” or “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” as offertory hymns. But when I do get to sing them, it’s no stretch at all for me to thank God with every note for his gifts of sweet music, a little precious peace, and calm, and, I hope, joy.

Any words, any music, any smiles and gifts and laughter that honor our Lord do not need to be stamped “religious” to truly be God’s.

All real joy is God’s joy.

 

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! (Yes, some info about the new album is there, and a sample or a few!)

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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