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Best rendition of "Always" - Choose up to two selections...

  • Tony Bennett

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  • Marvin Gaye

    Votes: 0 0.0%

The Showtunes Sing-Off - Irving Berlin - "Always" - Part 1 of 2

1501 Views 30 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Dimace
Irving Berlin | American composer | Britannica

Irving Berlin - "Always"

""Always" is a song written by Irving Berlin in 1925, as a wedding gift for his wife Ellin Mackay whom he married in 1926, and to whom he presented the substantial royalties.

Although legend (and Groucho Marx) claims Berlin wrote the song "Always" for The Cocoanuts he never meant for the song to be included in that musical, and it was not. Thematically, it serves as a sequel to Berlin's earlier song "When I Lost You" which pertained to the death of his first wife Dorothy.

The song entered into the public domain on January 1, 2021."


Everything went wrong,
And the whole day long
I'd feel so blue.
For the longest while
I'd forget to smile,
Then I met you.
Now that my blue days have passed,
Now that I've found you at last -

I'll be loving you Always
With a love that's true Always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand Always.


Days may not be fair Always,
That's when I'll be there Always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But Always.

Note: This is a two-part contest

Part One - Tony Bennett - Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn - Marvin Gaye - Billie Holiday - Frank Sinatra (1947)

Part Two - Bobby Darin - Ella Fitzgerald - Mandy Patinkin - Frank Sinatra (1961) - Kiri Te Kanawa

Tony Bennett

Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn

Marvin Gaye

Billie Holiday

Frank Sinatra - (1947)
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"Although legend (and Groucho Marx) claims Berlin wrote the song "Always" for The Cocoanuts he never meant for the song to be included in that musical, and it was not. "

Hmm . . . George S. Kaufman wrote the book for The Cocoanuts. His official web site states:

Originally, Berlin had written "Always" for the show, but Kaufman convinced him to cut the song in Atlantic City. "I don't know, Irving," he said, "'Always' is a long time—shouldn't it be I'll be loving you Thursdays?"

In any event, I do like the song. And I like it as a ballad. So Sinatra first and Vaughan and Eckstine second. I have the latter as well as Ella in the Songbook and Sinatra's later version (about both of which I will comment later).
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Before I listen and vote, once again I'd like to digress and ask a question.

When I was young this kind of music was not 'cool' with my friends. I always watched and loved the musicals they used to show on the TV. The first inkling I had that these were 'cool' songs, was finding covers by Motown artists and other black artists like Aretha. At that stage Rock and Rollers wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. At the time the link seemed pretty obvious to me; Motown songs were just so well written. Strong melodies and well crafted lyrics. Proper songs like "the classics".

Since then I've also wondered if Berry Gordon made his artists cover these to expand their market? Does anyone know if that was the case?

Either way I still think that e.g. the best of Smokey Robinson, stands alongside the standards in the Great American Songbook.

PS Thanks for including the Marvin Gaye cover - it prompted these recollections and I really look forward to hearing it.
I have a CD of The Supremes singing Rodgers & Hart. My recollection is that it grew out of a 60s TV special where a number of Motown artists sang Rodgers & Hart.

I don't have the same cultural or generational reference points that most people here have and so "coolness" isn't a factor in any decision that will ever be made within these threads - The only criteria I use when selecting the tunes is "listenability" - I try to surround a "conventional standard" with interpretations that feature the best vocal renditions that I can find and, when able, to find those that add an extra dimension - something unique - to the standard.

My understanding of Berry Gordon is that he viewed music as product to be moved as quickly and efficiently as possible - A quick search reveals that most artists on his label released some variation of a "Best of Broadway" compilation of songs - From what I've heard, few of them are anywhere near being "memorable" - The traditional pop arrangements did the acts no favor - The interpretations tend to be awkward - Trying to overlay an R&B vocal groove over a standards sensibility results in a release which favors neither one nor the other.

This Four Tops album "4 Tops on Broadway" is an example of the type of material that the label's acts were pushed into producing - They did what they were told to do when they were told to do it.

When Marvin Gaye cut this tune in 1961 he saw himself as a performer of jazz music and standards, having no desire to be an R&B performer.

Interesting track selection on the Four Tops album. Mame.? :confused:

One strange thing about the Supremes' Rodgers & Hart CD is the sequencing. The first track has the slowest tempo and the tempo then builds from track to track over the entire album.
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I don't have that Vaughan/Eckstine album, but I have a Verve Records Berlin compilation disc, which has several tracks by them. They do a very nice job with "You're Just in Love," barring one sour note by Eckstine.
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Same here - She'll be making regular appearances...
Some Bing Crosby too - early and late.
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Hmmm... This isn't like comparing different performances of an aria. This is like comparing apples, oranges, bananas, kumquats and jackfruit. Which is "best"? I like a varied diet.
Try "Stardust" - 1500 recordings. Now topped by "Yesterday," but only in quantity, not in quality.
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