Saturday, November 29, 2008

Etruscan Sarcophagi

Group of Etruscan Sarcophagi lids

Larth Tetnies and his wife Thanchvil Tarnai (350 - 300 BCE)

Etruscan art seems the product of a culture rich in self-awareness, in the pleasures of life - especially to include those of conjugal love - and in the vivid appeal of fine craftsmanship. Their elegant mirrors might be a good metaphor for their civilization, about which sadly too little is known. They may have come in from Lydia, as Herodotus attests; as reported in the New York Times, DNA evidence now supports the idea.
The Etruscans stand mid-way between Greece and Rome, with strong affinities especially with Archaic Greek style, and providing Roman culture much of its art and sophistication. The Romans are notoriously more interested in the arts of others, both Greek and Etruscan, than their own.

Nicholas Wade in the NYT writes:

“Sharing wives is an established Etruscan custom,” wrote the Greek historian Theopompos of Chios in the fourth century B.C. “Etruscan women take particular care of their bodies and exercise often. It is not a disgrace for them to be seen naked. Further, they dine not with their own husbands, but with any men who happen to be present.”

He added that Etruscan women “are also expert drinkers and are very good looking.”
The immediate response I get to Etruscan art is from its finely polished or detailed surfaces and intricate sophistication.

My own introduction to Etruscan art was the married couple pictured above, Larth Tetnies - the son of Arnth Tetnies and Ramtha Vishnai - and his loving wife Thanchvil Tarnai. This work is unusual for its expressively human qualities. The intertwining lines and shapes of their bodies are fascinatingly abstract yet abundantly and warmly real. My students all respond well to it.

An especially yummy site for more on Etruscan art is by a teacher with the wonderful name, Rozmeri Basic.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Some Topics in Greek Art

Funerary Stele

Representation of human consciousness

Greek artists inherit from the Egyptians and from art of the near east generally – going back to the Neolithic - a tradition of figural representation that shows faces with abstract looks, with eyes that seem to stare out – presumably they are looking at a god, or watching out for the gods - but which reveal nothing about any thoughts inside. Highly formalized and stylized patterns in both Geometric and Archaic art create a sense of rigidity in the human face and frame that appears closed rather than open, remote rather than approachable. In the Archaic smile a generalized sort of emotional expression is developed, but this too is highly stylized and generic, pleasant, but not individual or personable. (In at least one case, the Etruscan Apollo of Veii from the late 6th century BCE, the Archaic smile may come across as distinctly sinister.) With the advent of the early classical period, from around 480 BCE onwards, artists start taking an interest in the poses and expressions of humans engaged not only in purposive action but also, apparently, in the thought that accompanies it. Artists then begin to explore how the body expresses the mind - which we call today "body language" - and in this fashion enable the audience to participate in an experience with the piece. That is, whether the figure is merely taking a step and looking out somewhere, or throwing a discus or a spear, the work involves us in a mimicry of the sensations involved in the procedure. For these reasons, it seems to me, the study and appreciation of Greek art is a good way to come to terms with the analysis and interpretation of art in general.

Neolithic statuettes and the Mother Earth / Venus fertility goddess

Getting to know about Greek art, it is worth going back to look at the figural representations of the Mycenaen and Minoan ages and beyond; wherever you look, Greek art looks fundamentally different, and it is worth exploring the nature of those differences. Dating back to the Paleolithic (ca 30,000 BCE) female figurines or statuettes , often with expressively female features, are believed to represent fertility or Mother Goddesses. There are a great many examples from the Neolithic (ca 10,000 – 2,000 BCE). Frequently, these figures will hold one or both hands up to the breast, a gesture occasionally found in Archaic Greek sculpture (the so-called Auxerre goddess). Because of the notion that a god might inhabit a statue, it is conceivable that original viewers of the Knidian Aphrodite of Praxitiles saw in her/it a god of sex and fertility not entirely unlike in spirit, at least, these figurines.

Incidentally, the names scholars and others gave to the Venus de Willendorff, the Venus of Engen, and those other female figurines derive from the original Venus Impudique, and was seen by 19th Century scholars as a joshing contrast with the Venus Pudica motif of Classical art. They are only Venus figures to us, not to their original users. The fact is, we have no firm knowledge regarding how they were originally conceived.

Religious vs. aesthetic approach

There is no question that much Greek art emerges from religious worship and offerings. Basically, votive objects appear to be based on their role in a system of divine patronage in which humans seek and derive favors from the gods in return for gifts of great worth and value, and so they offer votive statues to the gods. If you can afford it, you may hire an artist to create a piece for this purpose. As you can imagine, the gods care nothing for wealth as such, but they do – Greek gods, at least – appreciate beauty. Therefore, individuals will create – that is, have created by hired artists and artisans – worthy and beautiful objects to donate to a god in exchange for specified or unspecified favors and requests. The Greek temple is, among other things, a sanctuary where such beautiful and desirable objects may be stored without fear of loss. The space within the temple is clearly demarcated from the space outside; it is sacred. So long as the belief system holds, the power of the sanctuary prevents thievery. Furthermore, there is apparently some notion that the gods actually dwell within the temples built on their behalf, and specifically within statues; occasionally the statues are destroyed, presumably in a manner with ritual significance. All of this must contribute to the notion of their beauty, which can be called numinous. Numinous means “wholly other,” and is an entrance to the holy. As objects, many of these pieces, as with Christian pieces from the 3rd C.E. onwards, make for sharp distinctions between two different levels of reality for those for whom they were created. They are in that sense "wholly other."

Egypt and Ka-Aper

In the 7th century or so the Greeks, who had a trading colony in Egypt, began to learn the crafts of stone carving from the Egyptians. This had a profound effect on both Greek architecture – wooden constructions were gradually replaced by stone – and on Greek sculpture. The celebrated wooden sculpture of Ka-Aper, a court official dating from 2465-20 BCE (hence much, much earlier than Greek sculptures), forms a clear contrast with Greek sculpture. The Egyptian official is clothed, is not freestanding, and resembles a portrait, whereas Greek examples became freestanding nude males, more abstract and ideal than a portrayal of real people.

Anatomical details and abstract motifs

In Greek art from the Geometric through the Orientalizing, Archaic, and Classical periods, lines and shapes may represent both the anatomy of the human or animal subject and an abstract world of mathematical geometry that underlies the one we experience with our senses. Geometrical forms, that is, form the basis for the Greek artist's approach to anatomy. This is especially clear in the kouros, which are perfectly symmetrical and designed as compositions that derive from V and W shapes. Later, in the Classical period, the abstract motif of the chiastic dynamic set up through the weight shift - contrapposto - makes for an intricate pattern of relationships that conveys both geometrical balance and human consciousness.

Freestanding sculpture and sculpture in relief

Freestanding sculpture exists in the round, so that you can walk around it; sculpture in relief emerges from a background. Freestanding sculpture is relatively easy in small forms, but for life-sized and larger figures a great deal of technique is necessary. The Greeks learned monumental sculpture from the Egyptians, but worked out the freestanding forms for their life-sized statues. Sculpture in relief was especially noteworthy as part of architectural decoration, where it could emerge from the frieze, metopes or tympanum (the triangular space within a pediment).

Frontal and in the round sculpture - freestanding

Regardless of whether a piece of sculpture is freestanding or in relief, it may be oriented frontally or in the round. Frontal orientation can have a strict and impersonal regularity to it, since it can only be really seen as intelligible from one the position in front of the object. The kouros (Archaic sculpture) is a good example of frontal orientation. Sculpture in the round, to the contrary, can only really be understood by walking around it, thus engaging the audience in a more dynamic fashion. As Greek art develops from the Archaic through the Classical periods subjects are increasingly shown in the round. The work of Lyssipos (4th century BCE) provides good examples of pieces that must be seen from front, back, and side views. The essentially frontal nature of that extraordinary sculpture group the Laocoon puzzles many both because of its late date and its apparent unwillingness to exploit what would seem to be a natural dimension of the piece as drama.

High relief/alto relievo and low relief/bas relief

Sculptures in low relief are carved or etched on the surface of the stone, those in high relief extend at least halfway from the surface, and are likely to be more highly modeled showing greater effects of light and shadow.

Sculptural effects and surface modeling in sculpture

Carving is not as supple as modeling; carving is done on hard, relatively unyielding substances like wood or stone whereas modeling is done with soft, yielding materials like clay. Modeling provides artists with a way of rendering details of anatomy and drapery in both lifelike and expressive ways, so that effects of light and shadow play over the surface.

[Sculptural effects and surface modeling in painting

Painting on 2-dimensions may be given the look and feel of 3-dimensions by manipulating effects of light and shadow over the contours and surfaces being represented. This is not a topic we consider much in Greek art, but is fundamental to art generally. The so-called Issus or Alexander mosaic, showing Alexander the Great in one of his decisive battles, apparently derives from an earlier Greek painting, and is a good example of modeling effects created for 2-dimensional art. The horse's rump in that work is a particularly effective example of how modeling light and shade creates the impression of 3-dimensions over a 2-dimensional surface.]

Archaic kouros (pl. kouroi) and Kore (pl. korai)

The kouros is the original Greek freestanding male nude, generally stiff, frontal, and abstract. The kore is the female equivalent, although freestanding, always clothed, often with an extended arm as if making an offering. Greek artists experimented with drapery effects on kore figures. The arrival of the classical period basically does away with the kouros figure, whose stiff, unbending and uncompromising pose limits the freedom of the artist to explore the challenges posed by the human body and its manifold expressive nature.

Crete and the Daedalic conventions

Limestone and sandstone, far easier to carve than marble, were found on Crete. Crete was thought to be the dwelling place of Daedalus, a mythic inventor of (among other things) sculpture. Therefore, the style of figural sculpture that emerged in the Archaic period as a result of the Orientalizing revolution is called Daedalic. These conventions consist of highly patterned wig-like hair with symmetrical braids that frame a triangular face.

The Archaic smile

Another of the Daedalic conventions which remain with Greek art until the change from Archaic to Classic style is this characteristic and smile. Sometimes it looks genuine, though more often it looks, as it was, pasted on.

Cycladic marble

The hard, white marble from the Cyclades, islands of the Greek Mediterranean, replaced the softer stones from Crete when Greek artists became skilled enough with their tools to work it.

Greek garmentschiton, himation, peplos

The chiton is a piece of clothing formed of two rectangular pieces of fabric sewn together and worn directly over the body, cinched either at the waist or under the breasts. Over it was commonly worn a cloak called a himation, worn diagonally over the torso. The peplos, worn only by women, is a cylindrical piece of cloth folded on the top line and pinned at the shoulders. Greek artists recognize the expressive effects of drapery from the Archaic period, but push them to their limits by the High Classical sculpture of the Parthenon and many Nikes.

Drapery effects

Greek artists explore the effects made by representing drapery as it falls over and around the human form. This is especially the case with females, since males are generally represented nude. Drapery effects become a virtual constant in representational art from this point on. They effectively demonstrate both the body beneath and external conditions – often showing how drapery looks when blown by the wind, when agitated by violent motion, or when wet. Drapery effects, however, not only represent the body beneath and external conditions but also internal, psychological states, so that – in some cases even more than the relatively placid faces, and often the heads are missing altogether – what the drapery does indicates what the character is feeling or going through. In these ways, drapery effects are expressive means by which artists encourage viewers to identify with their subject matter.

Architectural effects

Putting to the side the entire subject of Greek architecture, the architectural effects found in Greek art as such are found primarily in funerary reliefs, as above, where the scene is established as an interior by the minimal presence of a pediment supported by pilasters which frame the scene. This motif, used in architecture around doors and windows, may be called the aedicule, and becomes a predominant motif in Classical art with the Romans.

The nude and the heroic nude

Greek artists invented the nude as a motif. As Kenneth Clark famously stated,

…to be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word 'nude,' on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and confident body: the body re-formed.

While the Greeks learned the art and techniques of life-sized figural sculpture from the Egyptians, they put their own stamp on the form by sculpting the male body nude and freestanding. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that male nudity was relatively uncomplicated and normal; men exercised naked, for example. Also, the nude male came to represent an ideal, both in beauty and in virtue of his independent status. Clothing makes gives a body more of a social and personal dimension, rooting it in a culture of place and time, whereas the standing nude exemplifies a universal ideal. The heroic nude, of course, develops by leaps and bounds during the Renaissance, when artists turned back to Classical models and motifs. It was especially elaborated as an ideal by one of the founding fathers of art history, Joachim Winckelmann, whose approach in the 18th century to the classic male nude bordered on the idolatrous.

The pose, contrapposto, and the chiastic pattern

Greek artists explore the various effects of the model’s pose, starting from the conventional, rigid, frontal pose of the kouros and korai figures in which the left leg – longer than the right – extends forward. Conventionally, this step is seen as approaching a religious or numinous space. The discovery of the effects of weight shift on the rest of the body – contrapposto – enabled artists to develop a variety of dynamic poses that could at the same time represent real persons and ideal forms. This is done, partly at least, by alternating the tension and relaxation of arms and legs in a cross or chiastic pattern, as seen in such figures as the Doryphoros and the Riace Warriors. By the late Classical period, artists discovered the particular effects of contrapposto on the female form.

The “canon of proportion”

Polykleitos, a Greek sculptor from the 5th century BCE, was thought to have written a manual exemplifying and extolling a system of proportions ideally suited to the human – male – body. His book no longer exists, and the piece of said to exemplify those proportions – the Doryphoros or Spear-carrier – exists only in relatively poor Roman copies. However, the canon, or rule, ("canon" in this context means "measuring rod") became widely influential, even if its strict proportions can not be worked out. The canon is one of the ways the underlying geometries of the piece are considered, so that to contemplate the statue means, among other things, confronting geometry.

The torso

The fragmentary torso, at first the result of haphazard shocks and accidents on complete statues, emerged in the Renaissance as a sculptural motif with its own identity. The so-called “cuirasse esthetique,” a commonplace in museums, derived from the Doryphoros of Polykleitos.

Greek bronzes and Roman copies

Greek bronzes were made of the “lost wax” technique, in which wax is molded and then melted away to be replaced by bronze. Most original bronzes were long ago melted down for other purposes; only a few remain, largely from shipwrecks, which give an idea of what Greek art was like. The Romans, who admired anything Greek, were fond of having copies of Greek originals made. It is from Roman copies, often not very good originally, and often in fragmentary shape, that most of our knowledge about Greek sculpture derives.

Greek vases - shapes

Many shapes and sizes of Greek vases testify to their common usefulness in Greek culture. A few common shapes are the amphora, with two handles and a long, narrow neck; the krater, large vessel used in drinking parties (symposia) to mix wine and water) and the kylix, a flat cup for drinking.

Greek vases - black-figure technique

In black-figure vases, which originates in Corinth in the 7th Century BCE, figures emerge as black silhouettes against a red background – this background is the clay of the vessel itself, the black figures are the paint that remains after firing the clay.

Greek vases - red-figure technique

Developed in Athens around 530 BCE, red-figure technique reverses the process of black-figure, so that now the figures that emerge are themselves colored red against a black background. This techniques gives artists more control over their material, permitting, for example, overlapping figures that are more lively and realistic than those of black-figure technique.

Greek Art by Periods and Styles

Exaltation de la Fleur, 470 - 460, now in the Louvre

Greek Art Survey

Geometric period 9th – 7th century BCE

For several hundred years in Greece, between around 1100 to around 800 BCE (the so-called “Dark Ages”) few or no sculptures are made, and decoration on pottery is purely geometric with no figural representations, even of animals. The earliest pieces of sculpture in the round are quite small figures of men, animals, and gods in clay or bronze. By the middle of the 8th Century, then, figural images first make their appearance in Greek art on large, funerary kraters.

The importance of geometry in Greek art is considerable. Geometry represents for the artist a way of apprehending and rendering the world that lies beneath or beyond what we see and experience with our senses. Geometry identifies a realm of universal truths; it can be found in this world only in meager and inexact models, and yet represents an entire and coherent system in the universe that, unlike this world, remains unchangeable, constant, elemental, everywhere and always. The 6th century philosopher Pythagoras is most associated with this world-view, in which relationships between numbers - and between tones in music - establish harmonies deemed to be beautiful. Our moral life, for Pythagoras, is instructed by these universal principles.

Archaic period 8th - early 5th century BCE

By the end of the 8th century the influence of Syria and parts East is recognized, in what has been called the Orientalizing Revolution. By the 7th century, standing or seated stone figures were used as dedications and to decorate buildings. Their style (called Daedalic because of their association with sandstone and limestone sculptures from Crete, home to Daedalus) is broadly Syrian or Eastern, showing frontal figures with large heads, wide, staring eyes, and triangular faces framed by stiff, wig like hair.

By the second half of the 7th century Greek sculptors, influenced by artists and artisans from Egypt, begin to make life-size or even larger figures using the hard white Cycladic marble (from the Cyclades islands in the Mediterranean) and around Athens. The two main types of statuary are the kouroi, (singular kouros) nude males standing upright with their left foot extended and arms to their sides, and the korai (singular kore), clothed women often making dedications. They are used as votices and grave markers.

The Classical period 5th – 4th century BCE

A profound change in Greek art begins in the early 5th century, around 480 BCE. Greek artists begin to approach both human and animal forms realistically. This means they start a careful observation of their models, studying the mechanics of both animal and human anatomy. They discover during this period how a body looks when the pose is no longer stiffly frontal but instead the weight is shifted to one side of the body. This apparently simple change permits artists to explore dimensions of thought and human consciousness as reflected in the pose, and also to experiment with how a body behaves when it is in pain, or in sudden or exaggerated motion. The archaic kouroi gives way to athletic figures and gods or heroes in action. The most common formula for a standing male nude is alert, with one leg relaxed, one tense, a related shift in the rest of the torso and the shoulders, so that the body is no longer rigidly symmetrical. However, a profound concern for underlying patterns of geometry is demonstrated throughout the whole piece by formal contrasts of rigid and relaxed limbs in a chiastic (cross) pattern, as in the Doryphoros, the so-called “canon of proportion” by Polykleitos.

While earlier artists in the Archaic period had carved their work directly into stone blocks, the new realism of the classical period required that artists model their work, building up the figures in clay models and then transferring the copies to stone. Also, bronze statues were modeled using wax that was melted away in the mold. Most bronze originals no longer exist, so we know Greek art mostly from Roman copies, few of which exhibit the same vigor or appeal as bronzes.

The new style - the Early Classical, or Severe Style - is also exemplified in the sculptures at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, where artists show deliberate attempts to depict emotion in faces and different ages of men’s bodies.

The classical styles of Ancient Greece are based, then, on a combination of geometrical patterns and a new concern for realism. While kouroi and korai figures look like humans in form, they do not, in fact, look human. The new realism permits artists to make sculptures that do look human, so that both facial expressions and bodily postures create not only positions in space but the different sorts of consciousness human exhibit when they do or feel different things. This makes sculpture not only more realistic and naturalistic but also more dramatic. These works can really reach into you. Funerary reliefs are both realistic and warmly inviting, recreating images of the deceased that retain their charm.

The Persian invasion of Greece and sack of Athens (480/479 BC) slowed down for a while artistic endeavors in Greece. The outcome, however, is one of the biggest surprises in history. The Greeks throw off the Persian threat and thrash their attacker soundly. Greeks enjoyed a remarkable rebound in the arts generally, which some believe derives, at least in part, from those victories and what they meant for Athenian democracy. The Parthenon itself, of course, is a commemoration of Greek success over the Persians, and friezes portraying mythical themes such as the victory of the Lapiths over the Centaurs or battles with the Amazons are understood as symbolic representations of the civilized Greeks defeating the uncivilized foe from outside of Greece.

Pheidias, the sculptor responsible for the sculptural program at the Parthenon, uses the style to create an idealized realism, where body forms are both realistic and proportionate and faces show a resolute calmness. The Parthenon inaugurates the style known as the High Classical, during which the basic types for the Greek statues were set.

The end of the fifth century is an especially trying time for Athens, in political upheaval after losing a decades-long war against Sparta, their militarist foes to the West. The Athenians put Socrates to death in 399 – that’s a big story and truly worth knowing, though we will not explore it here. Suffice it to say that Athens loses power to other city-states and, increasingly, to Macedonia, to the north, whence Alexander, whose death in 323 BCE inaugurates the Hellenistic style, the last of the great Greek styles.

Late Classical– 4th C

Essentially, artistic styles of the 4th-century continue from those of the 5th, with what we now see as a commonplace of culture, artistic experimentation basing off models and at the same time extending those models, so that poses are bolder, supports and interactive groups more frequent, and the motif of the human frame is in general slimmed down, lengthened, and made softer. The realism moves from idealistic to both naturalistic and individualistic. If realism is an approach to art that seeks to mimic reality, and hence to some extent the effects that reality will ordinarily have on the audience may be re-lived and re-experienced, naturalism does so within a larger natural setting. A growing individualism means that the characters represented become more approachable, more genuinely human and sensual, and their gestures frequently share the space we move around in with them. This period sees the first fully nude female life-sized nude, Praxitiles’ astonishingly sensual Aphrodite of Cnidos, the so-called Knidian, easily the most widely copied and influential human figure as subject in Greek art. Portraiture also becomes more common, and is especially associated with touching funerary reliefs. One of the patterns that emerges through Greek art of the 4th century is an increasing emotionalism. It has been said that pure realism is an end in itself, but it can be used to excite the emotions in ways that lead both to drama and to sentiment. Drama (simply) represents action in meaningful patterns; sentiment excites our emotions, and we all recognize that can be overdone.

Hellenistic sculpture late 4th – 1st Century BCE

The Hellenistic period from the late 4th to 1st century BCE thrives in the context of the successor states that inherit and distribute Alexander’s new empire. The style merges with that of Rome and becomes dominant for the next five or six centuries. Important centers of Hellenistic work are in spread around the Eastern Mediterranean. Now the drive for realism extends to subjects that would have been thought entirely inappropriate – laughable, really – in the 5th and 4th centuries – the poor, the old, the tired, and the young with their winsomely expressive gestures.

Hellenistic sculpture has been widely – at least until recently – regarded as essentially trite, and certainly never the equal of art from the Classical period. However, the reception of the celebrated Venus de Milo (Aphrodite of Melos) is worth considering. When it was discovered the clearly Hellenistic identification on the pedestal was simply ignored; nobody could conceive of a work of art this successful as being from any other period than the Classical. After some decades scholars at the Louvre Museum in Paris finally admitted that their masterpiece was Hellenistic.

Thinking about Greek Art

Reconstruction of Athena and Marsyas, Myron, Classical Period Group

Greek art makes use of and derives from mythic materials – many pieces created by artists are votive objects intended as gifts for the gods in exchange for some sort of patronage. It is therefore important in beginning a study of Greek art to help identify the subject matter, which often concerns the Greek gods and heroes of myth and legends. The scene described in this reconstruction shows a somewhat offended Athene, having just discarded the flute (aulos) she has been playing because in spite of the beautiful music she could make from it, she discovers, having seen her reflection as she played, that it makes her face look ugly. The faun or satyr, Marsyas, will have no compunctions about looking ugly while playing, and will pick it up and master the instrument. That is the beginning of the myth.

Somewhat related to myth, though in another subject category, is the Greek concern with victory and success generally, which Greek artists would commemorate in their work. Success could be had both in war – for which symbolic Nikes or personifications of Victory were erected to celebrate military victories - and in athletics, because the successful combination of a good-looking youth with victory at the games gave a kind of numinous –“god-filled”- presence that artists could attempt to capture in their portrayals of the human body, especially the nude male. Things will not turn out well for Marsyas, our poor faun, whose skill at the flute will lead to an unfortunate competition with Apollo, the god (among other things) of music and the Muses. Apollo, playing his lyre, will feel slighted when the faun turns out to be as adept as he in producing beautiful sounds, and so will add the stipulation that they play their respective instruments upside down. Apollo easily turns his lyre (a stringed instrument) upside down, and the faun, unable to produce any sounds from an inverted flute, must suffer the consequences of losing to a god. Apollo will have him strung up to a tree and skinned alive. This grim fate is a typically Greek ironic reversal, putting a spin on the concept of commemorating victory in art.

Greek art also emerges from a real concern with geometry, a discovery that the world had a particular sort of meaning because there was an abstract world of mathematics reflected in the real world but also separate from it. These formal concerns with geometric shapes, patterns, and proportions unite with a growing sense of realism and naturalism, using art increasingly to mirror the world we see about us. In the classic period of Greek art (from around 480 – 400 BCE) some form of ideal is sought in reconciling geometrical shapes, forms, and proportions with the beauty in nude men and, increasingly, women. This can be seen, for example, in the chiastic (criss-cross) poses of nude males in which relaxed and tightened muscles of alternate arms and legs gives both a geometric and a naturalistic expression to the body. We see in the work above a studied contrast of opposites in which the calm poise of the goddess is set against the agitated expression of the faun. The faun's behavior seems to foreshadow his shock at losing the contest, which would have been understood as one pitting the forces of harmony and geometry represented by Apollo and the lyre against those of sheer expression unmediated by geometrical effects in the flute. Essentially, the myth portrays a contest between Apollonian and Dionysian wills.

Another constant concern of the Greek artist, or, perhaps more accurately, another way of looking at geometry and myth in Greek art is by way of beauty. Beauty for the Greeks represents something ideal which, like geometry and like myth, exists both in this world and in another more abstract world of timeless truths. We can get hopelessly enmeshed in these fascinating topics unless we just take it somewhat as a given that, at least as we begin to look at this art, we form a notion somewhat similar to what the Greeks probably believed, which is that the gods, while they are very much like you and me, are beautiful, that they enjoy beautiful things, and that whatever beauty we find here on earth in some way resembles that timeless and eternal beauty of the gods. In this way, art is beautiful because it is religious and, because it is religious, it is beautiful.

The religion, though, as we see in the story of Marsyas, is far from consoling. Greek religion, as it is expressed in the arts, at least, reveals aspects of the gods as they relate to human life. Essentially, there is no fixed or standardized body of rules or prescriptions for behavior vis-a-vis the gods, no dogma, just some generalized understandings, some of which include both that irony and that concern for beauty described above. Greek art - or, some of it, at least - is created as beautiful objects which are placed in sanctuaries within the temple grounds as votive objects intended to establish or confirm patronage. The better the work, it must be presumed, the more favorable the response of the god will be. But again, there are no fixed rules, just understandings.

Of primary concern as Greek art proceeds after the fifth century seems to be an exploration of human consciousness by representing poses and expressions by which consciousness may be repeated, evoked, recreated in the work of art. This concern is no doubt related to all of the above - myth, victory, geometry, beauty, religion - but in ways I am not able to express. In any case, however, a profound shift takes place between the Archaic and the Classic ages when the so-called “Archaic smile” gives way to the more severe – and naturalistic – pout of the early classical facial expressions. At the same time, the weight-shifted pose (contrapposto) enables artists to explore how the body reflects and reacts to various states of consciousness, thus making available a wider range of expressive poses for experimentation – hence the chiastic pose mentioned above. All of this puts the focus of the artist on the human, specifically the human body, and how its poses reveal inner states of mind.

Now, Greek religion does not really concern itself with interior, psychological states. Greeks perform rituals as prescribed, not as their hearts instruct. The role of the interior state of mind simply does not matter in Greek religion as it will, for example, in Christianity.

Greek art changes much in the Hellenistic age, when emotionalism and naturalism take over, leaving formal and geometric concerns behind. The fourth century, coming between the classical and the Hellenistic, is both a period of transition between styles and a period of consolidation of effects and traditions.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Preaching Blues - Robert Johnson

Preaching Blues (1936) by Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson (1911 - 1938) is generally acknowledged to be one of the most influential, personal, and creative of the country blues singers. He has plenty of competition in this, including from Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell, Bukka White, Skip James, Son House, and Sonny Boy Williamson.

But still... Johnson is the true legendary bluesman of the Mississippi Delta, and there is a genuinely amazing quality to this record - to most of his recordings. It was recorded relatively late, considering that the first recordings of such blues artists as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton were made in the early to mid-twenties.

Robert Johnson died not long after this song was first released. It was only in the 90s that a couple of photographs of him surfaced. His life and death are obscured in the mists of time and blues legends, though recent scholarship has brought much to light. He died young, probably at the hands of a jealous lover who poisoned his drink. Someone said he died on his hands and knees, barking at the moon, but then there were always legends about his life. One of his songs (Crossroad Blues) led to the suspicion that he had sold his soul to the Devil at a country crossroads in exchange for the power he achieved as a musician. (This, of course, is a stupid lie. That was apparently somebody else. )

Robert Johnson’s collected output, finally released on CD, shot to the top of the charts in 1990.

There is good reason for legends to have accumulated around this astonishing singer and performer. There seems to be here all the authenticity, all the raw power, and all the emotion, of several lifetimes. Robert Johnson holds back nothing. When he sings of walking with the Devil he makes it real; that's a quality we appreciate in any recording, whether the performer talks of love and heartache or, as here, more existential matters. Francis Davis (History of the Blues) calls Johnson “the greatest of the Delta transcendentalists” (p. 124). In this song, the singer-songwriter Robert Johnson embodies the blues, taking this mysterious state of mind and compelling musical form and putting them together in the shape of a man walking. This occurs both in the music and, in some mythic way, in us, as we listen.

I don't dance, so I can't talk about dancing to this, but I do walk, and walking to this song makes good sense.

Now listen. Johnson’s work is clearly a forerunner of rock music - far more than of most other blues recordings - and several rock artists have covered his work, notably Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zepellin. However, unlike the work of these artists, there is nothing especially popular or very easy about this number. Robert Johnson here does not invite the listener in, but rather seems to challenge us, to confront us with a peculiar vision of a nightmarish world. My students are generally unimpressed, which is a shame. Clearly, they are not listening; many think its a woman named Robert. The challenge, I suppose, is too great for them, so they turn back to whatever they have on their ipods.

There are at least three major shifts in rhythm in the first 5 seconds of the song, and then a wailing, almost unearthly moan as if from some twisted soul to open the vocal.

Introduction Minutes/Seconds 0 – 2

First Chorus 6 - 48

A 6 – 25 Mmm mmmm—I’s up this mornin’, ah, blues walkin’ like a man.
A 25 – 37 I’s up this mornin’, ah, blues walkin’ like a man.
B 38 – 48 Worried blues, give me your right hand!

Second Chorus 49 - 1:17

A 49 - 58 And the blues grabbed mama’s child, tore him all upside down.
A 59 - 1:06 Blues grabbed mama’s child, and it tore me all upside down.
B 1:07 - 1:17 Travel on, poor Bob, just can’t turn you ‘round,

Third Chorus 1:18 -1:50

A 1:18 - 1:29 The blues, is a low-down shakin’ chill (Yes, preach ‘em now)
A 1:30 - 1:37 Mmmmm mmmmm Is a low-down shakin’ chill
B 1:38 - 1:50 You ain’t never had ‘em, I, hope you never will.

Fourth Chorus 1:52 - 2:23

A 1:51 - 2:07 Well, the blues , is a achin’ old heart disease (Do it now, you gon’ do it? Tell me all about it)
A 2:08 – 2:15 The blues, is a low-down achin’ heart disease
B 2:16 – 2:23 Like consumption, killing me by degrees

Fifth Chorus 2:24 - 2:52

A 2:24 – 2:34 I can study rain, oh oh drive, oh oh drive my blues
A 2:35 – 2:41 I been studyin’ the rain and, I’m ‘on drive my blues away
B 2:42 – 2:52 Goin’ to the ‘stil’ry, stay out there all day

The wailing voice and that extraordinarily percussive guitar are so compelling, so vivid, so dramatic, so expressive, that both - voice and guitar - seems to claim a kind of autonomy, each off doing its own thing as it were, almost spinning out of control, making their coming together in this recording all the more remarkable. Yet however independently voice and guitar seem to operate, each relies on the other, picks up from each other, challenges each other. This is typical in the blues, and in many other recordings, but here the challenges seem more confrontational, more edgy, and more dangerous. In this song the guitar does not so much accompany the singer as to compete with him for attention. They remind me of those stories of the ventriloquist's dummy taking over the show. There is something unearthly here—in a purely secular way. And it is a little scary.

Consider the second chorus in terms of its presentation of self - the self of the author and performer. First there is a “mamma’s child,” And the blues grabbed mama’s child, tore him all upside down. So we are in the third person here. (The good lyrics here say that the word at second #51 is me, as in the following verse, but I don't hear that at all.) We definitely hear me in the next verse, Blues grabbed mama’s child, and it tore me all upside down. He winds up the chorus talking directly about himself in the third person: Travel on, poor Bob, just can’t turn you ‘round. Johnson also refers to “poor Bob” in his Crossroads, begging the Lord to have mercy now, save poor Bob if You please.

The fear Johnson evokes in his songs, and which appears to be so real, derives in part, I think, from the creation of this persona, which he then proceeds to destruct, to tear apart. It is as if during this song he loses himself - literally - and never gets it back together, except of course that the control of the performer over the entire song itself belies our sense of someone out of control, and is testimony to the fact of an integral self, a paradox.

Nothing in his music dissembles, or goes half way. This is, of course, not always the case with his imitators and followers - even the very good ones.

One O'Clock Jump - Count Basie can jump to a stomp and swing; stomp to a jump and swing; or swing to a jump and a stomp. - Albert Murray

Count Basie and His Orchestra:
Buck Clayton, Ed Lewis, Bobby Moore, trumpets
George Hunt, Dan Minor, trombones
Caughey Roberts, alto sax,
Jack Washington, alto and baritone sax
Lester Young, Herschel Evans, tenor sax, clarinets
Count Basie, piano, orchestra leader
Freddie Green, guitar
Walter Page, string bass
Jo Jones, drums
Eddie Durham, Buster Smith, arrangers
Recorded: July 7, 1937

This is the swing anthem - Basie's theme song - and to most people a familiar and fun piece of music, as are most all of the pieces found in the Complete Decca collection of Basie's recordings. [But, see below for some sad history.]

This is a head arrangement, deriving from and encouraging improvisation around its 12-bar blues pattern. It was a common number for this band - they called in Blue Balls until asked its name on the air and Basie looked at the clock. It is, above all, a riff number, based on a repeated melodic phrase. The repetition in this case becomes infectious and exciting as the soloists take turns improvising from chorus to chorus. And it becomes more than that, as repetition gives way to variation, building up layer upon layer of interactions and relationships. The marvel is that it remains as simple and as fun as it is, given the underlying complexities of its performance.

Don't look to me for explications of those complexities, as they are far beyond me.

Just listen.

Intro 1 - 10
The first ten seconds have Basie vamping a riff for 8 bars, with Jo Jones whispering on drums in the back.

First Chorus 11 - 27
Basie takes the first chorus, soloing on the piano, a very solid rhythm section - the best rhythm section of its day - accompanying.

Second Chorus 28 - 43
Basie takes the second chorus - a head arrangement will kick things off with a two chorus opener - starting with a few trills or tremolo in the upper register and finishing by modulating to a new key.

Third Chorus 44 - 1:02
Herschel Evans on tenor sax enters for his solo, accompanied by riffs from the brass section. Evans plays in the style set for the tenor sax by Coleman Hawkins, a big, almost gruff sound, powerfully elegant, rich, dark, romantic. Note the contrast - typical for big band swing numbers - between the soloing reed voice and the brass accompaniment. Their timbres are distinct, and used to set off one from the next.

Fourth Chorus 1: 03 - 1:17
George Hunt on trombone enters, and the timbral contrast shifts from the previous chorus so that now the brass is soloing up front and the reeds accompany in the back. It is this kind of thing, all very simple and clear throughout the performance, that contributes to the increasing levels of complexity in the communication, with each chorus adding layer upon layer of patterns.

By this chorus we notice that however fine the soloist is up front, the sax riffs in the background are beginning to insist. Lester Young on tenor will pick up what he is doing here with the accompaniment and play around with it in his solo next chorus.

Fifth Chorus 1:18 - 1:34
Now comes a high point, the entrance of Lester Young on tenor sax, whose playing contrasts markedly with both George Hunt's trombone from the previous chorus - their instrumental timbres are obviously distinct - and - notably - with the tenor sax of Herschel Evans from the third chorus. Though Lester and Herschel play the same instrument, the contrast between them is as telling as that between the reeds and the brass. Young's style of playing introduced a new and highly influential approach to the tenor sax, emphasizing its lyrical, sly qualities over the aggressive squawk of the Hawkins approach.

Anyway, Lester Young begins this chorus playing a single note using false fingerings, a method of finding alternate ways of hitting the notes on a sax with different fingers. This technique contributes to another sense of contrast and variation, albeit subtly. Done right, as here, playing a single note over and over again, with false fingerings for variation, builds intensity into the experience of listening in ways that echo other parts of the recording. In fact, Lester Young's solo here picks up stuff he was playing as riff accompaniment beneath Hunt in the previous chorus.

Sixth Chorus 1:35 - 1:52
This is Buck Clayton's trumpet chorus, with - as you would expect - the reeds riffing in accompaniment. Buck's first two phrases repeat exactly - reminding us of the difference between repetition and variation. On his third phrase he then starts the variation.

Looking back, we can see that after the two chorus opening on piano we have heard a sax solo with brass accompaniment followed by a brass solo with sax accompaniment, and then the same pattern repeated. Typically, the trumpet leads the ensemble, as the most commanding - brassiest - of instruments. Here, though, Buck is just one soloist among others. Notice how the sax riffs take on another tone in their support of this solo.

Seventh Chorus 1:53 - 2:09 Bill Basie returns for what some might call a piano solo, but sounds more like a duet with bassist Walter Page who walks the bass around the chorus, punctuated by Basie's high register chords. Walking bass lines are when the bass fiddle plays arpeggio accompaniment hitting every beat by ascending or descending the scale, keeping regular time. (Arpeggio means playing each note of a chord over time rather than all at once; so the chords are broken, as it were, and played as on a harp.)

This chorus brings out the piano-like qualities of Page's bass playing, while Basie's piano seems like its trying out some minimalist form of piano expression. The two voices sound incredibly good together.

Eighth Chorus 2:10 - 2:26
The ensemble kicks in for this and the remaining choruses - riff choruses, to be exact - in which the sax and brass sections trade twos. Trading twos simply means that one player or section plays two bars and then another player or section plays two bars in response. Given the range of effects derived from creative repetitions, variations, and contrasts thus far in the recording, it is appropriate that these final choruses give way to this unadulterated riff expression. In this and the remaining two choruses the brass section will play pretty much the same riff, though with varying degrees of intensity, while the saxes mix it up a bit. This is basic call-and-response communication.

Something we can easily lose sight of in this particular recording, though it is apparent once we see through its simplicity, is the intense competitive streak revealed by the trading-twos format. What the first player or section sets up, the second echoes, repeats, varies, and at the same time challenges - or perhaps a better way to put it would be to say responds to the challenge set up in the first voice. Thus the parallel phrasing of trading twos has built in to it an instinctive competition, further elaborating the layers of relationships set up throughout the recording.

Ninth Chorus 2:27 - 2:42
Here the saxes play the basic melody of the piece in the upper register as the brass section keeps to its riffing, now playing lower than the reeds.

Tenth Chorus 2:43 - 3:00
The reeds and the brass continue to riff it up in call and response, increasing the intensity to the end. Listen for Jo Jones on drums pounding out an emphatic beat from time to time as the record comes to a close.


Here is the story of the Decca recordings. John Hammond, whose claim to have discovered Basie has some validity (unlike some of his other claims, I fear) wrote in his autobiography of how Basie got cheated in his first contract, with Decca.

Basie showed me the contract. It called for twenty-four sides a year for three years for $750 each year. To Basie, it seemed like a lot of money. To me, it was devastating- for both of us. There was no provision for royalties, so that for the period when Basie recorded 'One O'Clock Jump', 'Jumping at the Woodside', and the rest of those classic hits, he earned nothing from record sales. It was also below the legal minimum scale demanded by the American Federation of Musicians for recording.
Back in New York, I called Local 802 to protest these outrageous terms, and did manage to raise the per-side payment scale, but there was nothing the union could do to break the contract. Jazz Piano Online
Basie, of course, is not, alas, the only Black artist to have suffered in this way. He seems to have pulled out of it alright. His career was long, his success well-deserved, and his music brilliant.

Basie's the guy playing Vernon Duke's April in Paris with his band in the desert in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Francois Vase

The Francois Vase, made by Ergotimos, painted by Kleitias, 570 BCE,

As you can see, this large volute krater has been reconstructed. It may perhaps have been smashed by thieves looking for gold or silver, thus leaving this exceedingly fine piece in ruins. It was discovered in the 19th century in pieces, painstakingly put back together by archaeologists, only to be smashed again by some peevish guard. As such, it could stand as a symbol for much of ancient art, which so often comes to us tattered and torn.

However, symbols like that are rarely interesting in and of themselves, and this piece is, in fact, most interesting, in and of itself, both as a whole and for the great variety of mythic material it conveys. Though the variety is outstanding - the number of scenes portrayed is, I believe, far greater than for any other piece of pottery - the skill and the craftsmanship is even more impressive. This is a truly beautiful work of art.

A krater is a pot used to mix wine with water; the Greeks rarely drank wine without diluting it at least somewhat. At their symposia (drinking parties), someone would be designated to mix the wine and a steward, presumably, would then dip bowls into the krater to retrieve the wine and water mixture for service. It is called a volute krater because the handles resemble the volutes found on Ionic capitals atop the columns of Greek temples.

It is difficult to know, or even speculate, why particular myths are shown on a krater such as this. The abundance of stories, though, must testify to something, if only the opulence of the piece itself. Also, this is one of those pieces in which most of the characters are named, so that identification is all the easier. It seems to me as if these pictures, and the stories they represent, might have led to some mighty fine conversation, as long as the wine wasn't diluted too much.

Most of the images are displayed around the belly on registers or friezes, with a pronounced horizontal frame. Some of these horizontally oriented images are delightfully ithyphallic. On the handles, by contrast, are images arranged vertically, including some of the most striking images we have from the Ancient world. One of these is a celebrated potnia theron - that is, Artemis as mistress of the beasts. Another is a truly tragic image of Ajax carrying the dead body of his companion in arms, Achilles, where the straining muscles of the one contrast vividly with the inert lifelessness of the other.

Some of the many mythological scenes depicted on this vase include the crane dance of Theseus, a slithery dance which he choreographs and performs after slaying the Minotaur; the Calydonian boar hunt, in which Greek heroes try to rid a forest of a marauding boar and are bested by a woman; the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, which is the real beginning of the Trojan War; and the return of Hephaestus to Olympus after being thrown out by his father, Zeus, and his mother, Hera, who are upset at having a lame child. He avenges himself upon them by sending Hera a golden throne from which she can not escape. All is made well again when Dionysus gets him drunk and brings him back to Olympus where, as compensation, he is given Aphrodite as wife. All is not, as we know, however, made well for long, as Aphrodite jumps into the sack with Ares.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When You're Smiling, Billie Holiday and Lester Young

When You're Smiling, Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra, January 6, 1938

Song by Fisher/Goodwin/Shay

Buck Clayton, trumpet
Benny Morton, trombone
Lester Young, tenor sax
Teddy Wilson, piano
Freddy Green, guitar
Walter Page, bass
Jo Jones, drums
Billie Holiday, vocal

Billie Holiday was a singer for the Basie Orchestra, but as luck would have it, they made no recordings. This is a sad poverty, because in spite of the many great recordings they each cut separately, there would have been some gems there, had a recording contract for the singer and the band together been possible. Given the choice, though, of the potential songs with the full band and those recordings with the small groups that were made, I think the small group recordings are undoubtedly better. Of course, they exist, which is by definition better. But I prefer, generally, small band jazz in the swing idiom to large band jazz, even when the large band is led by a Basie or an Ellington. I am certain that if we had Billie recording with the full group, as great as many of them would be, they would not match the small group recordings. We are blessed to have them.

And, in particular, blessed we are to have this one. This is one of those records people like Charlie Parker and countless others would have worn out by getting the needle on the record player to just over the right spot on the record, just about 2 minutes and five second into the song, to find the very end of Teddy Wilson's elegant and (for him) deeply felt chorus to the beginning of Lester Young's incomparable solo.

Everyone plays like a genius on this one, with Benny Morton's gutsy solo chorus to kick it off, and Buck Clayton's impeccable obbligato behind the singer, and maybe its their influence that sends Lester Young into the stratosphere to round out the number.

The song's form is AA'BC, meaning that the first two phrases repeat, but the second is with varation (A'), and after the contrasting bridge (B) instead of returning to the original material the chorus ends with yet another phrase (C).

Listen to the chord progression for the song here.

Introduction 0-4
Teddy Wilson

First Chorus 5 - 44

Benny Morton's trombone solo is incredibly smooth, holding out the notes, barely pausing for breath, as if to make of the whole chorus a single phrase.

Second Chorus 45 - 1:25

Billie Holiday keeps with Morton's breathless approach, but what surprises most here is the obbligato accompaniment by Buck Clayton. He does his own little dance out there behind her, with her, almost through her.
When you're smiling
When you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

When you're laughing
When you're laughing
The sun comes shining through

But when you're crying
You bring on the rain
So stop your sighing
Be happy again

Keep on smiling
Cause when you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

Third Chorus 1:26 - 2:04

Teddy Wilson's piano is a familiar accompaniment to Billie, swing feeling in gear, jaunty, clever, clear-headed.

Fourth Chorus 2:05 - 2:37

This is what it is all about. A kind of amused intelligence surfaces in the playing. As with most great solos, we hear the song and we don't, quite, because we are hearing another version, even another song, or as if we were hearing it again, after the song has been away and grown up, or something. In some cases, it sounds like the song we've been wanting to hear all along, though we are probably kidding ourselves in that case.

Coda 2:37 - 2:52

Buck Clayton plays the C section to bring the song to a close.

This Year's Kisses, Billie Holiday and Lester Young

This Year’s Kisses, Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra, January 25, 1937

Song by Irving Berlin

Buck Clayton, trumpet

Benny Goodman, clarinet

Lester Young, tenor saxophone

Teddy Wilson, piano

Freddy Green, guitar

Walter Page, bass

Jo Jones, drums

Billie Holiday, vocal

This is perfection. The composer is America's premier songwriter of the 20th century. The performers, many from the wonderful Count Basie's Orchestra, are among the very greatest of the swing idiom. Lester Young's full chorus tenor sax solo is brilliant, inaugurating a celebrated musical partnership with Billie Holiday that remains among the enduring glories of American music.

Just listen.

But first, listen to Gunther Schuller marvel at Billie's musical prowess:

As one listens to these sides, all from 1937, one is staggered by the realization that we are in the presence of a genius, a twenty-two-year-old girl in full artistic/musical maturity -- a girl who had already been a Harlem prostitute for five years of her young life, drug-addicted, with a chaotic, consistently masochistic love life, a constant witness to the seamier side of the black experience, and more. How such sublime art could flower and flourish in such an abysmal environment is not only a singular tribute to Billie Holiday but to the indestructible power and vitality of jazz itself.

For one not present at Billie's 1930s recording sessions, it remains mysterious as to how she learned these hundreds of songs - and so impeccably. The question arises not out of mere idle curiosity; it is a valid issue: first, because of the technical perfection of her performances, higher and more consistent than any of her accompanists (including even Teddy Wilson, but possibly excluding some of her rhythm section sidemen - like Kirby and Cole - with, to be sure, much less demanding assignments). Second, it is not possible to so thoroughly recompose and improvise upon that many songs without knowing them completely. You can only intelligently deviate from something - perform variations on it - if you know it deeply. (Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz 1930 - 1945)
The form is a minor variant of the AABA, with enough difference between the last A and the first two that it is noted with a ', hence, AABA'.

Intro: Teddy Wilson 0 – 7

First chorus 8 – 1:05

This is Lester Young with an extraordinary sound, new, exciting, different, less flashy than other performers of the day, a sound described as feathery and as lemony. These 32 bars are worth listening to over and over.

A 8 -20

A 21 - 33

B 34 - 51

A' 52 - 1:05

Second chorus 1:06 - 2:07

Here is Billie Holiday, who sounds even more pleased with things generally than usual. You know she’s smiling, after listening to Lester Young's incomparable performance. This was their first recording session together.

Listen to all those sound patterns in the lyrics: alliteration, consonance, and assonance This year’s crop of kisses… The metaphor comes from agricultural economics, which seems like an odd realm to evoke, but then the topic is love, so... Since the crop is sweet, we can assume the kisses are being compared with some kind of fruit. This particular crop, however, grows by the light not of the sun, but of the moon. The metaphor in the last line shifts to fashion. Both fruit and, er, frocks, are seasonal.


This year's crop of kisses
Don't seem as sweet to me.

Bennie Goodman provides some very gentle wailing obbligato to underscore and complete the phrases here.

(Don't tell anyone, but there is a grammatical error in the lyrics here, if you care about such things.)


This year's crop just misses
What kisses used to be.


This year's new romance
Doesn't seem to have a chance
Even helped by Mr. Moon above!


This year's crop of kisses is not for me
For I'm still wearin' last year's love

Third chorus 2:08 - 3:11

Teddy Wilson on piano with Buck Clayton (2:33) on bridge, ensemble on the final eight.