Dad, Dionne and me

As Dionne Warwick’s show drew near earlier today, I found myself with an extra ticket. I’d hoped to go with the lovely Janet, but she begged off because of too much work.

So I took my dad instead. I figured he’d enjoy it.

This is a man who watched virtually every TV variety show on the air in the ’60s and ’70s, when Dionne Warwick, by then an established pop star, was seen regularly on those shows. I know, because I remember seeing her. I was certain Dad knew who Dionne Warwick was. Apparently not. That, and it took him half the show to get his hearing aid adjusted to get the sound just right. Ah, well, so it goes.

Dionne Warwick is a lovely 67, and still in fine voice. Neither seems to have aged much, if at all. She is one of America’s pop icons, a national treasure, yet seems to be considerably underappreciated. (Even by me. I have exactly two Dionne Warwick tunes in my collection, yet I know a couple dozen.)

In a show that lasted little more than an hour, she sang almost everything you’d hope to hear. She reinterpreted two familiar tunes — “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” — with new, Latin-flavored arrangements and new phrasing. They sounded just fine.

I would have liked to hear “Then Came You,” her 1974 hit with the Spinners. However, she reportedly didn’t care much for the tune when they cut it. As far as I’m concerned, though, everything that followed her second song was gravy. That song?

“Walk On By,” Dionne Warwick, 1964 single. Available on “Walk On By: The Definitive Dionne Warwick Collection,” a two-CD, 40-track import released in 2000.

Why I dig it so much is not so much about Warwick as it is about an album that once belonged to Dad and now belongs to me. As I’ve written before, I played the bejeezus out of the following LP when I was a kid. This instrumental was my introduction to “Walk On By.”

“Walk On By,” the Baja Marimba Band, from “Baja Marimba Band Rides Again,” 1965. Out of print. (Happily, I found another copy of the album last month.)

Here’s another take, one I only recently came across. Burt Bacharach and Hal David interpreted by Motown producer Norman Whitfield.

“Walk On By,” Undisputed Truth, from “Law of the Land,” 1973. Out of print.

2 Comments

Filed under May 2008, Sounds

2 responses to “Dad, Dionne and me

  1. Hey, if you like Dionne you might be interested in this great album over on the FourBrothersBeats blog (http://fourbrothersbeats.blogspot.com) “The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke’s Greatest Hits” (http://fourbrothersbeats.blogspot.com/2008/05/dells-sing-dionne-warwickes-greatest.html).

    Fantastic set of interpretations (calling them “cover” versions just would not do the songs justice) of many of Dionne’s best songs. Highly recommended!

  2. Satiety says : I absolutely agree with this !

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