Saturday, May 21, 2011

Show Tunes: It Ain't Necessarily So


Bronski Beat: It Ain't Necessarily So


Aretha Franklin: It Ain't Necessarily So


Porgy and Bess, the 1935 faux-folk opera by the Gershwin Brothers, was a creation of its racist times. On one hand, it perpetrates a seriously distorted view of black America of that or any other time, with its focus on drugs, gambling, casual sex, and violence. On the other, it gave focus and prominence to many black singers and actors when roles for them were few and far between. Plus the blues-jazz music is flat-out wonderful. Best known is Summertime, the most covered song in history. This song, though, is not a bad second choice. Sportin' Life, the drug dealer, humorously expresses his disbelief about the truth of some famous Biblical stories.

I've chosen covers by two very different but no less compelling singers. The first is by Bronski Beat, an 80s synth pop group fronted by Glaswegian Jimmy Somerville, later of the Communards. I think I've mentioned my affection for falsetto singing; Jimmy's pretty well known for standing out in any high-pitched crowd. The second is by Detroit's own Aretha Franklin, from her self-titled 1961 album. Aretha needs no further introduction.

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