Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – July 1, 2009

Today’s show is a tribute to Noël Coward featuring Steve Ross, “the crown prince of New York cabaret.” Ross speaks of Coward and of his own career. Hearing Ross sing Coward’s songs at the Museum of Performance and Design in San Francisco, Jack Foley wrote, “Steve Ross’s performance tonight was just wonderful. I knew just about all the songs Steve sang–melodies and lyrics—and I knew them in Noel Coward's voice because I’d heard so many of Coward's performances. What Steve managed to do was to remake every last song he sang. Not a single rolled r, no Britishisms even when he sang about "London Pride." Oddly enough, it was as if Steve were consciously avoiding the way Coward sang the songs—and yet what he sang was marvelously expressive. I found myself laughing heartily or feeling deeply touched by songs I knew very well. It had to do with Steve's inflections, the little surprises as he sang, the little looks he sometimes gave, the riffs he played. Gershwin showed up momentarily—which was certainly a surprise. Everything seemed marvelously new—yet I knew very well that all these were old songs, songs I knew inside and out. Yet Steve showed me that I didn't know them as well as all that: I didn't know they could be done so differently from the way Coward did them and still be tremendous songs. ‘Make it new,’ wrote Ezra Pound. That’s exactly what Steve did to every song he sang.”

 

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