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Fabulous Friday: "Ol' Man River"


The next song to be examined in *Stardust Melodies* is "Ol' Man River" from *Show Boat,* music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. This was a signature song for Paul Robeson - - here he is doing it in the 1936 movie:

Robeson is wonderful, of course, but my favorite performance of this song is by Tony Bennett, live at Carnegie Hall in 1962. I grew up listening to this album, it made me crazy for Tony. Back in the day it was "Blue Velvet" that got me all gooey, but when I got it on CD sometime in the 90s, it was "Ol' Man River" that drove me wild. Tony is fantastic, his high notes are blazing and his swing is the swingiest - - but the best thing on the recording is Cándido ("the great Cándido," as Tony calls him) on the bongos. Oh my Lord that audience goes nutso for him, and so do I.


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