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Enjoying a Timeless Classic, "Nearness of You" with Different Covers


Great songs never die. There are not many songs that have survived throughout a century. Whether you were born in the 1950s or 2000s, you may have heard of this timeless song: “The Nearness of You.”

Originally released by Hoagy Carmichael, a legendary jazz musician, "Nearness of You" is a jazz ballad written in 1938 with lyrics penned by Ned Washington. As many of you may have noticed, the song talks about longing and emotional intimacy toward a loved one. Love, as a universal theme, resonates regardless of time and space, and the lyrics are known to touch everyone deeply. The lyric expresses a deep yearning to be close to their beloved, conveying a sense of vulnerability and desire. The opening lines set the tone for the song: "It's not the pale moon that excites me / That thrills and delights me, oh no." Here, the narrator suggests that external beauty or grand gestures are not what truly matter, but rather the nearness and connection to the person they love.

Not only because it has a lyrical theme that resonates worldwide, but Carmichael’s composition has also been desired by many musicians. Even though it was written in the 1930s, many people still admire his musical artistry, which has allowed this song to survive even in the 21st century. His composition is characterized by its lush, melancholic melody, which flows seamlessly alongside the poignant lyrics. When you listen to the song, you will notice that this song is typically performed in a slow tempo, allowing for a deep emotional resonance to emerge. As it is a jazz song, of course, the richness of the harmonies is noticeable. By using various and diverse harmonies, the song effectively conveys a sense of intimacy and vulnerability that complements the theme of the lyrics.

Because of its colorful and soulful musical characteristics and resonating lyrics, "Nearness of You" has endured through the decades. Many legendary artists like Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Norah Jones have covered and re-released the song. This proves its enduring power of love and longing. Its timeless melody and heartfelt lyrics continue to resonate with listeners of all generations, evoking feelings of nostalgia and emotional connection.

If you are interested in this song and want to immerse yourself more deeply into this legendary song, why don’t you try practicing this song by yourself? If you have a piano, there is a perfect chance for you to practice the song. Arranged by the pianist Daeyoun Kim, who uploads quality arrangements mostly of jazz songs, this cover will let you have a great experience of singing along with the legendary artists.

What is great about this arrangement is that it captures the essence of each version of the song from different singers. First of all, as you should keep in mind as an arranger, this arrangement has encapsulated the originality by keeping its rich jazzy harmonies. Imagine if you simplified the original harmonies, known for their richness and impact. This arrangement, thankfully, keeps the profound and variable harmonies to ensure you can follow the originality. However, it is also important to help performers maintain the vibe of the original. In this case, by keeping the smooth and relaxing vibe of the song, the arranger successfully demonstrated how important it is to stay within the vibe. How did the arranger manage it? As I mentioned earlier, the arrangement focuses on keeping the harmonies and optimizing the characteristics of the piano. It is easy for the piano to provide multiple vocals and make them sing different melodies. This arrangement effortlessly made each vocal sing different melodies in which performers should focus on to deliver the nuance. This might remind many performers of the voice color of Frank Sinatra. If you remember, his timbre is deep but warm, giving you the vibe as if you were in a peaceful and protective house. This arrangement resembles Frank Sinatra’s timbre by highlighting the importance of the upper voice. While other voices simultaneously sing, the critical part of this song is the main melodies. By giving it to the upper voice, this arrangement was able to shed light on the main melodies but keep up the richness of voices by making it in conversation.

However, if you listen to Frank Sinatra’s version, you will notice that it is elaborated with different instruments arranged in the most extravagant manner. Here, I do not mean it in a negative way. Rather, it is important for arrangers to think about the timbre once again. Because Frank Sinatra’s voice is deep and soft, the arrangement should have been made in a way to contrast with it. However, in this arrangement, the accompaniment has been simplified. This is in line with the effort to make performers concentrate on the melodies again, like in a cover by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. If you listen to this cover, you will feel how much simplified the instrumentation are. Because it was important for this cover to make two singers in conversation, the arranger decided to make the accompaniment quieter. This piano arrangement also serves as a way to optimize the conversational voices.

In conclusion, "Nearness of You" holds a timeless appeal, resonating with audiences through its soulful melody and heartfelt lyrics. Its enduring legacy transcends generations, drawing listeners into its narrative of longing and emotional connection. Whether experienced through Hoagy Carmichael's original rendition or interpreted by other artists, the song's universal themes of love and intimacy continue to captivate audiences worldwide. Its ability to evoke deep emotions and provoke introspection has solidified its place as a classic in the annals of music history, ensuring that its beauty and significance endure for years to come.

Now it is time for you to delve yourself into the legendary song. Here is music sheet that you can play along with Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Norah Jones. Don’t forget to listen to the various versions of the song, if you want to maximize your musical experience!

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