Harry Connick, Jr. – Every Man Should Know
Here’s another disc I rescued from the death throes of our shite little HMV. When I was making up my list for the series this week, I spaced out the Harry albums with other stuff in between, in case you burned out on Harry two days in a row. Turns out, there was interest in him (yay!), so here’s another one for your edification…
Every Man Should Know is a lovely soul slow song that plays like a list of things every man should know, as told to a son. Interesting, given that he and his wife (former Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre) have three daughters. Ah well… One Fine Thing shifts to slinky bluesy, oh man. It sounds like a 70s blaxploitation slow song. The flute solo and the muted trumpet stabs, riding over top that glorious piano line,make this one great. The lyrics are a little stalker-ish, how he’s basically a girl he likes, wants to be with her. She’s one fine, fine thing. Sure!
I Love Her brings on the salsa feel and a breathy sax, and holy Frank Sinatra, Batman, this one is a throwback big-time. When the strings swoon in, it’s a dead cert. Of course it’s awesome… Greatest Love Story shifts gears again, to a bluegrass-feeling contry tune with banjo and violin (er, fiddle) over top. This time we’re getting everything his momma told him about life and relationships, and Harry’s relating it to his new bride (because his Mom actually did die when he was young). I assume this one’s for Jill. The band chugs along happily in the background, the musicianship is really great. Fun!
Come See About Me is another slower love song, with beautiful piano (of course). Harry’s there for you, lady, and it’s a beautiful thing… Friend (Goin’ Home) is a bouncy happy tune with a great horn section (I always cheer for the trumpets!). This one has soul and a superb bass line. All the elements come together perfectly, and when the chorus comes in with that choir in the background, hot damn you are lifted!
Now, switch gears from all the love songs here, because now Harry’s happy Being Alone. The tune rolls in on a deep piano line, then we’re right back to the When Harry Met Sally… soundtrack. This is that sweet old late-night jazz Harry is (perhaps) best known for, and it’s glorious. Even better, the song features another hero of mine, Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, an extra voice adding nothing but class… Yup, this is a highlight track for me… Harry sings over a lovely acoustic guitar line in Love My Life Away, a thoughtful, introspective love song that reels you in and holds you close. He’s unhurried, and there’s no doubting his sincerity…
You’ve Got It is next, and it’s a peppy, energetic, uplifting soulful track, complete with horn section and backing choir again. Damn, can this guy do no wrong? Let Me Stay, featuring Branford Marsalis on (of course) a gorgeous saxophone part, while the bass rumbles a guitar strums, and the piano adds fills. It’s gentle but strong, another love song from this old irrepressible lover man. As the tune builds over strings, the saxophone soars and we’re mid-flight into greatness.
S’pposed To Be had to happen, a New Orleans jazz stomper. It’s Mardi Gras, baby! Duet vocals from Kim Burrell and absolutely smokin’ trumpet work from Harry’s longtime trumpeter Leroy Jones makes this one a blast. Oh, and don’t forget that glorious choir and the hand-claps… hot damn, get dancing! And as if that party wasn’t enough, there’s one more track, Time To Go. It’s a a slow waltz love song to the traveling musician who travels miles to be opening act. There are country (lap steel) touches that add woe to the tale. Harry could even believe it’s him in the song, but he’d be wrong.
Glorious. I loved every track. This is real songwriting, and beautifully done and arranged. Let’s all thank Harry for being who he is, unafraid to put himself out there and make records like this!
For anyone interested, here’s Harry’s message from the liner notes:
“this cd is a journey… a musical trip down a winding back road of my desire… no rules, no limits… I wrote what I liked, I played what I felt and I sang what I saw… sometimes I channelled my experiences, sometimes I made up stories… the melodies drifted through me, unfiltered by stylistic boundaries… my years of external influence seamlessly settled into my subconscious, bowing to the inevitability of choice, change…
all my previous recordings have been “limit pushers,” self-imposed challenges that led me to small but important personal victories… this effort is no different, except for one thing: I don’t recall ever reaching quite as deeply – or confidently – into my inhibition pool… I don’t even think I realized that it went that far down! (or up, depending on perspective…)
I hope the listener will trust me as we travel this path together – not trust me to lead, but trust that my sincerity to share the experience is unwaning… and what an experience! it was scary, exciting, tragic, overwhelming and rejuvenating… most importantly, it was an honor, as always, to make music with the hope that people would listen and even enjoy… thank you for the chance to let me show you my world…