I’ve always had rather a soft spot for Hoagy. It’s not just because we share a birthday (date, not year!) or that we both have law degrees; it’s because Hoagy wrote the music (and occasionally the lyrics too) of some of the greatest songs, from the greatest era – even if he’d only ever written ‘Georgia on my Mind’ that would have guaranteed him legendary status (I don’t care what anyone says – no one, but no one sings this better than Hoagy himself); but there’s more: Stardust, Heart and Soul, Skylark, Up a Lazy River, Two Sleepy People, The Nearness of You, Riverboat Shuffle...the list could go on for pages.
Oh, and he was also best friends with jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke. It was Bix who encouraged him to start writing music. Further to this he recorded, often performing his own songs; I admit his warm, jazzy, relaxed and effortlessly cool vocals may not be to everyone’s taste but if you can appreciate the musicality of his honeyed tones then you have a treat in store.
OK. Still not convinced Hoagy’s the Man?
Let’s throw in some Hollywood film roles too then. He starred in ‘To Have and Have Not’ with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, ‘Topper’ with Cary Grant, ‘Young Man with a Horn’ with Kirk Douglas and many more.
And if you still need convincing of his cool credentials, Ian Fleming based James Bond on him – both Casino Royale and Moonraker describe Bond as resembling Hoagy.
My favourite of Hoagy’s recordings is Hoagy Sings Carmichael , I include a link to Amazon.com as it has more reviews – it is also available through the UK site. The Pacific Jazz Men include Art Pepper and if there’s a more hauntingly sad ballad than ‘Winter Moon’ out there I‘m not sure I want to hear it.
I realise this week has rather become a homage to Hoagy rather than the usual brief paragraph on what I baked to. I make no apology for this! Just to round things off here is a photo of Mr C looking particularly debonair. Sorry for the flash, but I couldn’t find this pic on line so had to photograph the one I have hanging on the wall in my home office!