Extended Album Notes
Back when we bought those crazy vinyl records without a hint of irony, the "liner notes" were one of the best parts of a new album. Getting to know the stories behind the songs made us feel like insiders.
JPJQ wants to make you feel that way, too, albeit in a slightly more "high-tech" way. So here are our extended liner notes for "I Want Love!"
When I Sing - Words and Music by Bill Henderson
In 1989, there was a Canadian movie called “Bye Bye Blues”, about a WWII soldier’s wife who becomes a jazz singer to support her family. We loved this movie so much that at Christmas, my Mom and Dad each gave the other a copy of the soundtrack CD. This song won the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar for Best Original Song for that year, and I can see why! JPJQ opens most of our sets with When I Sing, so I thought it was a great choice to open the album.
I also got to feel like a detective when tracking down the rights to this song - I found Bill Henderson on Facebook and messaged him to ask permission to record it for this album. He was charming and gracious... and he said yes!
(Incidentally, congratulations to Bill Henderson, recently made a member of the Order of Canada!)
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Words and Music by David Allan Stewart and Annie Lennox
Mix one part Eurythmics with one part Muppet Show, garnished with a little of Adam Jones’ arranging magic, and you get this version of one of the quintessential pop tunes of my life! I will admit to having posted Annie Lennox's photos on my bedroom wall as a kid, and I've performed many of her songs over the years. This was one of the first pop tunes we re-arranged to play with JPJQ, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!
The More I See You - Words and Music by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon
The exuberance of true love expressed in this song has always made me happy – especially now that I know what it’s like to feel it. (Thank you Adam!) “Can you imagine how much I’ll love you… as years go by” – what an amazing line!
Jimbo's Lullaby - Words and Music by Joyce Pinckney
The lyrics for this song were written as part of a cycle of poems Mom wrote to be read alongside a recital of Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner Suite.” Most of the cycle felt complete to her as they were, but this poem took on a life of its own, resulting in this lovely and haunting tune. The images of youth and the bittersweetness of growing up were often central to Mom’s writing – she was always able to tune in to her “inner child” and experience life with that wide-eyed enthusiasm that never dimmed. This was, in many ways, the hardest of Mom's songs to record... I remember her reading the poem at that recital, and her voice is always in my head as I sing it.
Ain't Misbehavin' - Words and Music by Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf, and Thomas ("Fats")Waller
I remember attending a Canadian touring production of "Ain't Misbehavin' (the Musical)" with my parents in the early 80s. I was transported, and bought the album, most likely in the lobby at intermission. I've been singing this song ever since. Ain't Misbehavin' has been in JPJQ’s repertoire from the very first jam session with Andrew in our old house in East Vancouver, but the clever verse was a new discovery for me and I love it!
I Want Love - Words and Music by Joyce Pinckney
I actually recorded this song, long ago, with Mom in the basement of our old house. Back then, the music was generated by “Band in a Box,” arguably her favourite software ever, and we had a great afternoon figuring out how to make her computer record a voice. As I remember, we were eventually able to do it, but the resulting recording has been lost over the years, so I'm glad to be able to recreate it here, with the added sweetness of my amazing live musicians! The yearning for a love that makes the loved one feel cherished, desired, treasured and perfectly beautiful, resonated deeply with me, then and now.
Tears of Sorrow - Words and Music by Timothy Benton Roark
I had the unique pleasure of singing with Benton in his “y’allternative” band, Rollaway, for a few years. This song, originally recorded by him, is now performed by “the girl in the band” – ie, for the last little while, me. We recorded it in our first session, and were lucky enough to have Benton at our second session to add the organ part. Songs like this are such an amazing gift to the singer – beautiful poetry, set to deceptively simple music, that expresses complicated, difficult emotions and holds nothing back. Thanks, Benton, for the lovely gift.
My Baby Just Cares For Me - Words and Music by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn
I’m sure I’d heard this song before 1990, but Holly Cole’s recording of it from that year became part of the soundtrack of my life and I'd wanted to perform it ever since! It was one of the first songs Adam and I ever played together, and we even played it as the “first dance” at our wedding (the band kicked in after the first chorus so we could actually dance)!
Hold Me - Words and Music by Joyce Pinckney
A dear friend once told Mom her story about going through an almost insurmountable relationship crisis. One night, the woman asked her husband to put all the hurt and fear on hold for a night and “just hold” her, so that they could pretend for a moment that everything was still all right between them. That story inspired this song, with its careful balance between heartbreak and hope.
Rock'n Me - Words and Music by Steve Miller
One of the greatest benefits of having a talented arranger in the band is the chance we have to reimagine some of our favourite songs as though they were “old-timey jazz.” This classic rock song by the Steve Miller Band gets the full JPJQ treatment here with a fun New Orleans Second Line twist! (And a few Canadian lyrics!)
Milenberg Joys - Words and Music by Leon Rappolo, Paul Mares, Walter Melrose and Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton
One of my first memories is dancing on the grass near the gazebo behind the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon, Canada, while my Dad played in the Bridge City Dixieland Band. Dixieland music never fails to make me feel like dancing, and this tune – a classic by the man who claims to have invented Jazz, “Jelly Roll” Morton – is a great example. I defy you not to tap your toes (and have the tune stuck in your head for days)!
Goodnight, Sleep Tight Medley - Words and Music by Sylvia Fine
Another movie “to conjure with” in the Pinckney household was “The Five Pennies,” starring Danny Kaye. This beautiful song, with its interwoven melodies, originally sung by Danny Kaye, Louis Armstrong and Susan Gordon, was absorbed into the soundtrack of my life. I sang it often this past summer… it reminds me of better times with Mom, full of music, laughter and love, and the power of small joys.
You Can Always Count On Me - Words and Music by Cy Coleman and David Zippel
So many of what we now refer to as “jazz standards” were originally part of the Musical Theatre repertoire. This is a modern composition, from a show called “City of Angels,” and I believe that if it had been written in the 30s or 40s it would have become part of the “American Songbook,” too. So we’re just going to pretend!
I'm Beginning to See the Light - Words and Music by Don George, Johnny Hodges, Harry James, and Duke Ellington
I first encountered this song as a teenager playing with Mom and Dad in the aptly named “Millwoods Basement Jazz Ensemble.” We learned this tune after Mom went back to school to study Jazz Piano performance, opening my eyes (and ears) to all sorts of jazz tunes that never made it into the Readers’ Digest Treasury! I especially remember when, at midnight or so on a Wednesday night, I'd mention that I should probably head to bed, Mom shouting out a request for "just seven more!"
Stormy Weather - Words and Music by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler
It’s always a little nervewracking to perform a song so closely associated with another artist – especially when that artist is as amazing and iconic as Lena Horne. This soul/gospel-tinged arrangement was written by Adam to feature the “dramatic side” of my voice… and our shared love of modulations!