Random Thoughts

'Why don't you believe me?'

... some reasons why you should

by Russ Priestley

Knowing nothing about music, I do know what I like ... and no one can dispute that. I never played a musical instrument, unless the small, hand-sized harmonica counts. I can't sing, which makes me appreciate the talent of those who can do that which I cannot. I think my talents were chiefly on the hockey rink and in the ability to draw. If you like popular music of the days when there was no jumping and shouting and no underlying secret message for the "in" crowd, then take notice. We have in our local area an AM radio station which carries no advertising and plays music of all types, from the Beatles to Straus waltzes. It has one drawback in the fact that it has a license for only the daylight hours for its maximum output. After sundown, it is still on, but you may be have to get it by twisting the radio position and increasing the volume.

This little gem is WJIB at 740 AM in our area, with a sister station at 730 AM in the Portland, Maine area. Locally, it is owned and operated by Bob Bittner. His belief is that people want to hear music, real music without chatter or commercials. And he does not relate even the name of the song or band. If you are aching for that information, you must query him by mail, or get on his website and give the time and date when the tune was played. He does sell some time to pay the rent, but that will occur on Sunday morning when, of course, you are all in church, or perhaps a college sports event on Saturday afternoon.

Why do I bring up this information? Well, I'll tell you why. While listening, I heard a singing voice from the '50s and ''60s which I have always admired. It was that of the "sweet little girl next door" - as she was referred to then. If you don't know from the lead title of this article, or you did not exist in that era, I'm referring to Joni James.
If the title above does not ring a bell, how about, "Your cheating heart", "Have you heard who's kissing her now?", and "How important can it be?" These are the ones which are most familiar to me, but there are many more. If you query a search engine, you'll find CDs of her songs are available.

As I stated, I know nothing about music, but in delving into the effect of the voice of Joni James, I learned it's the vibrato, dummy. That talent along with her method of intonation made her popular beyond the other singers. A little-known fact is that Barbra (to editors: that spelling is Barbra's) Streisand recognized that lack in her own voice and trained her own vocal style after that of Joni James.

To steal and switch a closing line from Jimmy Durante, "Good night, Joni James, wherever you are."

March 3, 2006  

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