As you may know by now, Iowa-born-and-raised singer Andy Williams passed away this week at the ripe old age of 84. He had a long career as a crooner, and was well known for a number of rather sweet hits. The most famous, obviously, was his career-making version of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s Academy Award-winning “Moon River.”
I’ve always had mixed feelings about this song. It can come off as pure, unadulterated cheese; Williams’ version (which is beautiful) always seems to slide toward the lactose-heavy end of the scale for me. The film for which the song was originally written, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, makes me flame-spitting mad (for a whole host of reasons that I won’t bore you with right now). I sometimes find it difficult to separate the real merit of the tune from my occasional lactose-intolerant and Tiffany’s-loathing tendencies.
Still…even at my most intolerant and cranky, I cannot deny that it’s a pretty damn good song. Henry Mancini knew his way around a jazzy hook like nobody’s business, and Johnny Mercer’s lyrics (the major cheese source in the whole enterprise — the Wisconsin, if you will, of the song) sell the hook really well. It’s a song admirably designed to be sung. This is no light praise — there are a LOT of songs that really aren’t particularly voiceworthy, even if they are technically singable.
Anyway, I took a shot at it for the ol’ challenge, celebrating a full moon with a moon song. The moon, by the way, is not made of cheese — but my performance of the song really, really is.
I chopped it up a bit and shortened it, mostly because I just didn’t feel like pulling out the string arrangements this time. I had to change the key, too, in order to put it within my reasonable vocal reach. Pretty, pretty song. I hope I didn’t hurt it much…