Welcome back to our song-by-song commentary on Get Happy, written by band leader and tallest Pink Martini member, Thomas M. Lauderdale. This week Thomas opens up about his personal connection to “She was too good to me” and our mash-up version of “Üsküdar’a gider iken”. Enjoy!
Track 9: “She was too good to me”
My ex-boyfriend Philip introduced me to the song “She was too good to me.” There’s a really beautiful recording of Chet Baker singing it. It was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1930.
“She was too good to me, how can I get along now? So close she stood to me, everything seems so wrong now. She would have brought me the sun, making me smile, that was her fun. When I was mean to her, she would never say go away now, I was a king to her, who’s gonna make me gay now? It’s only natural, I’m so blue. She was too good to be true.”
Robert Taylor, our trombonist, who sounds very much like Chet Baker and sang “Veronique” on the second album Hang On Little Tomato, recorded the vocals on this song. He also co-produced this album, as well as Hang On Little Tomato, and our record with Saori Yuki, 1969. He has great ears and is a great musician. His brother Stephen Taylor arranges and orchestrates many of the pieces we perform with symphony orchestras. It was easy to record because the song itself is so powerful. When we perform it live, it becomes a show stopper where everybody sort of gasps because it’s unlike anything that comes before or after. It’s just this very sort of quiet, exquisitely and excruciatingly beautiful moment. There’s a recording of me singing it that we’re not going to release, but I like that recording because it means something. Of course, I changed the pronouns because I’m, you know, light in the loafers… Most days. Although, isn’t it about fluctuating percentages? (Bill Tennant, our manager, interjects: “Maybe we will release it someday.”) Yeah. I need to rerecord a couple lines because I sound like Kermit the Frog.
Track 10: Üsküdar’a gider iken
We’ve been to Turkey at least 15 times in the last 10 years. Sinan Nergis of Pasion Turca, our amazing Turkish promoter who also is responsible for our career in Greece and now Spain, brought the band to Turkey over 10 years ago because his friend at the time really loved the band. Nobody knew the band in Turkey when we first came. At that time, there was a huge shopping district, Taksim, and he got every store in that district to play the album. That’s how we became number one in Turkey.
Doing a song in Turkish was long overdue and “Üsküdar” is the best known folk song of Turkey, it’s like the national anthem without being the national anthem. The equivalent would be “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain”. (Wouldn’t it be better if “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain” was our national anthem? It’s a much better song. Or even “I’ve been workin’ on the railroad” which is a totally rewarding song because it just keeps on going and gets better with each passing bar.) Our version of “Üsküdar” is Istanbul meets the soundtrack to How the West was Won. There are big trombones with group choruses and harmonies. Brian Davis plays the dumbek. Masumi Timson plays the koto on this piece. It’s a big mashup of a bunch of disparate influences and cultures. But uplifting and fun, in the end
We’re close to the end of Thomas’ song-by-song commentary on Get Happy! Don’t miss next week’s installment in which you’ll learn the stories behind “Sway”, “Kitty come home”, and What’ll I do?”. See you then!