Friday, July 23, 2010

There's No You

Recorded October 14, 1957
Track Time 6:28
Written by Hal Hopper and Tom Adair
Recorded in Los Angeles
Louis Armstrong, vocal; Herb Ellis, guitar
Originally released on Verve MG-V-8322
Currently available on CD: Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
Available on Itunes? Yes

Earlier this week, my posting of "You Go To My Head" from the album Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson drew lots of positive feedback from my wonderful readers. People wrote in to tell me how much they loved the track (the great Desmond Polk was even inspired to write a poem about it!), while others agreed with my assessment that this album represents one of Louis's finest hours. However, multiple people also mentioned how to them, the album's high-point is "There's No You." I couldn't argue with that for a single minute.

"There No You" is a short track, running only 2:19. Louis only sings one chorus and he doesn't play any trumpet. But if you're not completely hypnotized by his vocal, I'll give you your money back. It's the kind of performance that is so low-key compared to Armstrong's usual operatic tendencies, it seems to have flown under the radar. For the performance, producer Norman Granz had the ingenious idea to back Louis's voice with the solitary sound of Herb Ellis's tender guitar. The chance to hear Louis in such a stripped down setting makes you appreciate his vocal that much more. This is strong stuff.

I've always been knocked out by "There's No You" but it wasn't until last November when I really felt the song's impact on other people. It was then when I took part in a daylong Louis Armstrong Symposium at the College of Staten Island. It was a fantastic day from top to bottom with multiple seminars on a variety of Armstrong-inspired topics. The entire day was spent listening to timeless Armstrong's tracks--Jimmy Leach's breakdown of Armstrong's "Star Dust" vocals was a special treat--but I don't think it was until the end of the day that everyone in attendance became so moved, they were speechless. Dan Morgenstern closed the bill with a summary of all the great happenings involving Louis these days and closed with a few essential recordings, including "When You're Smiling" and "Wolverine Blues." Everyone was digging it, that's for sure, but Dan had an ace up his sleeve: he closed with "There's No You." Many in the audience had never heard of it before. But when Louis's voice and Ellis's guitar came blasting out of the room's sound system, a silence came over the room that was almost spooky. Nobody moved, nobody coughed, nobody checked their watch. The room was still and when it was over, everyone was so emotionally drained, they didn't clap immediately. There was just that murmur of disbelief that comes when you're so touched, so moved by the power of a song you had never previously heard.

So without further ado, here's "There's No You." For those like me who have lived with it for years, listen to it again and bask in it. For those to whom this is a new treat, pay attention. Don't check your mail or update your Facebook, just listen and try not to be moved.

Well, there it is. I don't think there's anything left for me to say other than have a great weekend...and don't be surprised if you find yourself listening to that recording a couple of dozen more times.

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