2/2/15

A TWIST OF JACK, A SHOT OF LEMMON

Next up in the "actually I'm not just a movie star I'm also a singer" category comes Jack Lemmon, who actually did play piano pretty well. But why stop there? The world is chronically understocked with crooners so the decision was made to add another voice to the list American Songbook chroniclers. Lemmon's 1959 LP, "A Twist Of Lemmon" (har) is by no means the aesthetic wasteland that "Jerry Lewis Just Sings" is, but it's pretty lousy. Did Lemmon get the idea to do this from listening to the Lewis album, which predates this by a couple of years? It's much less fun to be hard on Jack as it is to be hard on Jerry--after all, Lemmon was a brilliant actor and a famously nice guy. But what's with the need to sing in public to begin with? Is there nobody around these guys--some trusted old friend, senior agent, golf-playing buddy--with balls enough to say, "a singer you aint"? I can understand Jerry being tone deaf to negative opinions of his singing (as well as being just plain tone deaf) yet pushing ahead anyway, all ego and hubris. But wouldn't an artist like Jack Lemmon be sensitive to the no-doubt embarrassed looks amongst the studio musicians at the date? The nervous coughs coming from the booth? The eyes averted at the end of each take?

Though 'A Twist Of Lemmon' can apparently be purchased here, the full album has not been made available on Youtube. Or rather it was but was then ceremoniously disabled. Who made this decision? A songbook lover who, after listening in disgust, wanted to save the songs from being manhandled in public? Or a Lemmon lover, who perhaps wished to save Jack from himself? Enjoy a twist of "Try A Little Tenderness", as sung by John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the insurance agent at the company party who just had his third Martini and is standing on the table, holding a champagne bottle as if it were a mic...



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