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Those who follow this column will have understood that I really like concept albums, those albums that have a precise common thread that links one song to another. It is a concept today perhaps a bit dusty, perhaps associated with progressive rock, but in reality it dates back to a long time ago, to the forties, the years of the birth of long pla pla In the pre-rock’n’roll era, any singer’s recital had to be a “concept album”: Christmas songs, songs about spring, songs about alcohol, about sports, about travel, about the beginning of a love, about the end of a love, about the absence of love… in short, any excuse was good to put together an imaginative program, possibly with a cover with beautiful vivid colors, perhaps made by some famous illustrator of movie posters.

When, in the mid-fifties, composer and arranger Gordon Gordon His idea is to describe, on the two sides of an LP, a modern love story in Ne Moderna d’amore a Neor In the background of the Green village Front A was supposed to be his letter and B was her answer.

In those years, the career of J People like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald,the Andre S In the thirties, evenudud Gar Garland, still very young, is directed by him for a radio special. But above all Garland recorded with him, in 1957, what is considered the best studio album of his discography: Alone. Listen to Little girl blue here: Garland’s personal life is already falling apart and her now famous substance addiction problems are all there, but her voice is still intact and the tune with the orchestra When Capitol, Garland’s label, discovers that Gar He throws away all the work done and rewrites his micro-musical from the girl’s point of view, and begins piano rehearsals right at the diva’s house.

Now there are no longer two letters but only one: that of him that is read by the voice perhaps a little too impassive and robotic actor J The music, on the other hand, goes all toud The two meet in the Village and the spark immediately strikes, as in the best romantic comedies of those years. He writes that meeting her was on July 4 (fireworks) and Christmas morning (the irrepressible joy of a child), and she responds with Beautiful trouble, in which she says she realized she was in trouble but eventually hopes to finish us more and more. The two lovers kiss for the first time under the arch ofash The album is recorded all live with the orchestra and a small choir at Capitol Records studios in Los Angeles in just two days. The only overdubs are some traffic noises and the ambient sounds of a room, everything else is recorded in direct as it used to be then. Arriving at the scene of the Garland kiss, to make it more realistic even on record, he approaches Ireland and really kisses him in front of the stunned eyes of the orchestra. Gordon, remembering that moment, thinks that the one between his two artists was the only real kiss ever captured on record. Who knows if it is true: surely in the following fifty years on record were captured orgasms of all kinds, real or simulated.

Each musical number is a painting. When the couple take refuge at Rick’s, their secret locale at the Village, a band is playing the blues. In the background you can hear the voice of Charlie LaVere, a pianist pianista The couple flirts while LaVere sings his song (Charlie’s blues) and in Garland’s somewhat harsh voice it is felt that something begins to go not so well between the two. Already on the second side of the album things turn to the worst, with the extraordinary That’s all there is, there isn’t anmore But she has already moved out of town. What better metaphor for the end of a youthful love than escape from Neor Garland reads the letter of him from a suburban house that we imagine linda and tidy like those of certain fifties advertisements but devoid of joy. Between the lines we read that Ne Ne Rick’s has closed “his magic door ” and the neighborhood is changing face. Gentrification was already a problem in 1959.

He walks lonely through Central park and keeps thinking about her. When describing a little girl with a red balloon, Garland responds with one of the most beautiful songs on the album, The red balloon, in which those who listen today cannot fail to hear her true voice, that of the child e star star, chipped by bitterness and disillusionment. Vocally, Garland has never been so fit, but there is that something that begins to meander in her voice that here she pushes painfully high, like the balloon that escapes from the little girl’s fingers. But the tone changes immediately, listening to The letter is really a rollercoaster ride, and we relive their quarrel that takes on decidedly comic and kitsch outlines: the problem seems to be a hat of her so he asks if by chance it was not Hallo Hall

Between ups and downs comes the happy ending. In the middle of the quiet suburban evening, announced by a drum roll, a phone call comes and risponde With those yes, those almost sobbing “es The greatness of the mature Garland is all here: even on a bright and romantic tea towel like The letter her voice is marked by a shadow and that something elusive and disturbing comes to everyone. Even today, more than sixty years later.

Recording sessions for The letter ended around midnight on January 16, 1959. en Enkins recalls that the whole orchestra stood up to applaud Gar Just like in the theater, except they were all locked up, late at night, in a Los Angeles recording studio.

One last curiosity for album fetishists: the first edition of The letter (recorded in mono) came out with an envelope pasted on the cover with a folded sheet inside with the full text of the letter that is read in the disc.

ud
The letter
Capitol, 1959

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