ome singers aren’t about the quality of their voice, as fans of Bob Dylan will tell you. Yes, we do realize his voice sounds like marbles in a blender, thank you very much. Where would we be if everyone sounded like Celine Dion and Bryan Ferry?
Where would we be if no one sounded like Jimmy Durante?
I first knew him as “Smiler” Groagan in the comedy masterpiece It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World so when I discovered he was a singer, I was suspicious. Smiler Groagan’s last words aren’t exactly melodic, though having Durante, broken body lying on a rocky hillside, twitch his foot into a metal bucket which bounces noisily down the hill is subtle slapstick at its finest.
We needn’t worry. No song was ever harmed by Durante’s voice because his phrasing, where he puts the words against the music, is up there with the finest singers of all time. (I’ll take Durante over Sinatra any day, and twice on Sunday.)
Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy;
Make just one heart the heart you sing to.
One smile that cheers you,
One face that lights when it nears you,
One girl you’re ev’rything to.
That one face that lights when it nears me . . . she knows who I’m singing to all right.