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Jazz Appreciation Month: The Jazz List of Lists

Composer of the most charming "list" song:  Antonio Carlos Jobim, 1965
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Composer of the most charming "list" song: Antonio Carlos Jobim, 1965

Social media has given us innumerable lists of songs on all kinds of topics. "Best love song," "My favorite break-up songs"—you name it, there’s probably a song list for it. Today, Nick Morrison’s going to give you a list of songs about … well, we’ll let him tell you.

Today I’m going to go a little meta and provide you with a list of jazz songs … about lists. A list list, if you will … and I’ll bet if I asked everyone listening right now to come up with a song about lists, a lot of folks would say "My Favorite Things," so let’s start there.

The song slid into the pantheon of great saxophone instrumentals when John Coltrane released his version of it in 1961, but it was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the 1959 musical "The Sound of Music." Over the years, Coltrane’s version aside, it’s morphed from a song about how Maria von Trapp got through hard times into a Christmas standard … and is hardly the worse for wear in that category. This is pianist Cyrus Chestnut and vocalist Anita Baker with their take on it.

Fairly uplifting, all in all—which is good, because heaven knows we have no shortage of feel-lousy songs.  Case in point, one of the all-time great "lost love" songs is "These Foolish Things," with gorgeous lyrics by Eric Maschwitz. The song has to do with a spurned lover taking agonizing stock of all that’s now missing from his life … and Johnny Hartman’s creamy baritone suits the occasion perfectly.

A lot of songs of lost love at least leave you with a little self-respect. "These Foolish Things" might be the exception. 

But having gone from "favorite things" to "foolish things," what do you say we end on a note of oneness?

The next song was supposedly written as the writer watched all manner of jetsam flowing through the gutters of Rio during Brazil’s rainy season. But it’s way more than that: It’s actually pretty Zen—a song that observes aspects of the world, great and small, as they say—observing serenely and without judgement. It’s meditation. It’s mindfulness. It’s lovely. It’s Antonio Carlos Jobim’s "Waters of March," sung by Susannah McCorkle.

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