Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Life is like a song": For Etta James

Photo from Wikipedia,.Album cover, 1961. Song by Mack Gordon and
Harry Warren for a 1941 musical film, Orchestra Wives.
Celine Dion, Beyonce and many other jazz and blues greats have sung the song,
but the Etta James rendition still moves the heart .

At Last Lyrics by Etta James
At last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clovers
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to rest my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Oh, yeah when you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
At last

“At Last” has always been one of my favorite romantic songs, and the great blues singer Etta James' version is the best of all.  

The song has been recorded by Celine Dion, Beyonce and almost every famous blues and jazz musician and artist of our time.  I  love  listening to Mile Davis playing "At Last."  A Wikipedia article (glad it's up and running again) also reminds us that President Obama and Michelle danced to various renditions of the song at each of the 10 formal balls honoring his inauguration.  They understood "the tradition," the blues and jazz tradition, and the importance of keeping it alive.

That's why it was sad to learn that Etta James, one of the legends in that tradition, just died of leukemia at her home in California at age 73.  That's not old, but she lived a hard and gritty life, and the years seemed to age her, conflict and pain etched in her face. The song is romantic and joyful, unlike her own life, according to the recent news stories.  

Now she is released.  She will live in her songs forever.  “And here we are in heaven....At last."

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