Romantic Music For Your Valentines Day Special Dinner
An Interview with Brad “Martini” Chambers from Martini In The Morning
A lot of us will be dining at home this Valentines Day preparing a meal for that someone special in our lives. The food is obviously an important part of any romantic dinner but so is the atmosphere and that incudes the music. We all have our own music preferences but in my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than The Great American Songbook, the music my dad listened to when I was growing up.
I wanted to come up with some of the most romantic music from that songbook so who better to contact than Brad “Martini” Chambers, the host of Martini in the Morning, an Internet radio station that plays the great standards 24/7. I’m a huge fan and listen to the program almost everyday while I’m working on my site or in the kitchen working on a recipe. Give them a listen and if you like what you hear, become a sponsor to “help keep the music playing”.
Here’s my interview with Brad
Brad, with Valentine’s Day coming up, hopefully there will be lots of guys preparing a romantic dinner for the special person in their lives. It’s fun to go out on this holiday to a favorite restaurant but let’s face it, times are tough and there may not be as much disposable income this year to celebrate in a fancy restaurant. So I’m suggesting guys create a romantic atmosphere at home by putting together an incredible meal along with the right setting to create a night to remember.
One of the most important features to any romantic meal in my opinion is the music. It has to be just right to create the atmosphere you’re looking for. Too big and you could be distracted. To laid back and you could fall asleep at the wheel. You want to get it just right and I can’t think of any music better than the standards you play at Martini in the Morning to create that romantic atmosphere. I suppose my fans could just dial up Martini in the Morning on Valentine’s Day and be done with it.
When I was a kid my dad loved the standards and listened to them all the time. I was listening to Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull but now that I am older, I listen mostly to the standards. There is something about this genre that gives it a kind of staying power.
Let me ask you, what is it about the standards that put people in a romantic mood?
These songs are stories set to music. Marilyn and Alan Bergman are two of the great story tellers ever. In their songs, they set a mood and tell a story that just as easily could be a movie, except they’re able to to tell a story in 3 or 4 minutes that will run 2 hours in a movie theater. Great love songs can be full of subtle suggestions like Cole Porter’s “All Of You” which could be one of the sexiest love songs ever written … to the obvious “I’m in the Mood for Love,” a song Barbra Streisand has been quoted as calling the greatest love song ever written.
Let’s start with some of your favorite song writers. Can you give us a few examples of song writers who were known for producing incredibly romantic songs?
Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart have written some of the most romantic songs ever. In “My Romance” Mr. Hart who wrote the lyrics suggests:
My romance doesn’t have to have a moon in the sky
My romance doesn’t need a blue lagoon standing by
No month of May, no twinkling stars, no hideaway, no soft guitars
My romance doesn’t need a castle rising in Spain
Nor a dance to a constantly surprising refrain
Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true
My romance doesn’t need a thing but you
In a somewhat unlikely love song made most famous by Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker, Rogers and Hart say
My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you’re my favourite work of art
Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day
I know male recording artists who won’t record this song because they think it’s not very loving to suggest to your valentine that her looks are laughable, unphotograical. But it works. Those lyrics have made valentines swoon for decades, since Rogers and Hart wrote it in 1937 for the musical “Babes in Arms.”
How about a selection of must-hear songs from these song writers that should be on our Valentine’s Day playlist?
Any version of Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields’ “I’m in the Mood for Love” is a must! The aforementioned Rogers and Hart songs, “My Funny Valentine” and “My Romance” should also be on your playlist.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane recently reprised a song Bob Hope introduced in the movie “Thanks for the Memory.” “Two Sleepy People” is a great addition for Valentine’s Day, as performed by this year’s Oscar host and pop/jazz singer Norah Jones. Speaking of Norah, her version of “The Nearness of You” which she performed in the movie “Two Weeks Notice” should be on your list.
One you might find strange is Amy Winehouse’s version of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” And as I hit the button to play a Steve Tyrell song, two of his (maybe more) should be on the list, Steve’s version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “This Guy’s in Love” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” the song that took Steve from behind the scenes producer to singer when he performed it in “Father of the Bride.” Steve’s version of “The Very Thought of You” should also be on the list, although Tony Bennett’s version with Paul McCartney has special meaning.
When Sir Paul was courting his now ex-wife Heather Mills, the two of them would often meet at the elegant Bel Air Hotel here in Los Angeles. They would walk into the piano bar and ask longtime entertainer Antonio Castillo de la Gala to “Play our song.” He would immediately launch into “The Very Thought of You…” and in fact, occasionally McCartney would surprise and thrill other guests by taking over de la Gala’s piano bench to play and sing the song to Ms. Mills.
A couple of artists we play, young singer songwriters we first met through their performances of great Standards, have also written songs that fit in nicely with The Great American Songbook. Tony DeSare’s “How I Will Say I Love You” should be played by everyone who loves someone. His “Let’s Just Stay In” and “Last First Kiss” should also be mixed in. Young Erin Boheme has a new album out, full of originals she’s been storing up, but “Anything,” a song she wrote as a teen for her debut album “What Love Is” adds a nice contemporary touch to your list.
And nobody says love like Frank Sinatra, and his performance of “Come Rain or Come Shine” says it all.
Now let’s talk about the singers who were recording the great standards. I have learned from listening to Martini in the Morning how the great writers of the standards would shop out their songs to many of the great performers of the day who would then record them. You would have some of the greatest performers of the day recording the same songs. So when it comes to singing romantic ballets, who are your 5 favorite male singers and can you give me an example of a standard we should be listening to?
I think anyone singing “The Way You Look Tonight” is a home run, but Frank Sinatra, Steve Tyrell in particular do it so well. Nat King Cole sings love songs that are “Unforgettable.” That and “When I Fall in Love” are musts for Valentine’s Day. Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Steve Tyrell all sing “All Of You,” which is a great, suggestive love song.
Back to Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, their “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” performed by Frank Sinatra, (again) Steve Tyrell Boz Scaggs and many others is among my favorites. Also Dean Martin’s version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” would put Dino on the list, as well as his “You Belong to Me.” Back to Frank Sinatra, two songs not so well known, “You’ve Brought a New Kind of Love to Me,” and “You Will be My Music.”
Ray Charles is another guy who can sing a love song. His version of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Deed I Do and Hallelujah I Love Her So will add a little tempo to your love songs playlist.
How about 5 female singers and romantic songs they recorded?
Ella Fitzgerald has done so many great, romantic songs, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Body and Soul,” “You Do Something to Me,” “These Foolish Things and so many more. Diana Krall … anything she sings, but her version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to HIS Face,” Barbra Streisand’s “I’m in the Mood for Love,” “Summer Me, Winter Me, her version of “The Nearness of You,”
Carol Welsman, an artist not well known except by MITM listeners, does one of the best versions of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life and many more love songs. I never considered Peggy Lee a romantic singer, but frankly, “You Give Me Fever” is quite a message to deliver to your Valentine and her “The Man I Love” and “My Heart Stood Still” are great messages for cupid’s quiver.
This one is tough Brad: What would you say is the most romantic song of all time and what is the best rendition in your opinion?
Frank Sinatra’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” and believe it or not, young Tony DeSare’s “How I Will Say I Love You,” or maybe Frank Sinatra’s “Body and Soul,” see, there are so many great love songs in this pool of music, it’s just impossible to narrow it down to one. Every time I try, another song comes to mind.
What will YOU be listening to on Valentine’s Day????
My wife. She’s been gone for two weeks working in the Boise, Idaho location of her antique business “L.A. Junk.” I’m sure there will be music playing, likely MITM where our Kitty Collins will debut our new request and dedication show “One For My Baby.” But, I’ll be listening to Karen. Her voice will be music to my ears.
Thanks for this interview Brad. Much appreciated! Happy Valentines Day to you and Karen.