Irving Berlin

For the last year or two I have been going back into the deep waters of song that were the popular music landscape of the early twentieth century and thereabouts. I spent this afternoon playing and recording this song by Irving Berlin, The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On). I came across this song through the interpretation of Whispering Jack Smith.  This version is the most spare and atmospheric of the many versions I have heard. It captures the melancholia and existential weight of many of the songs from that era which are often cloaked in orchestration and arrangement. Incidentally, Whispering Jack Smith got a job as a "song plugger" for Irving Berlin Music Publishing in 1918 after his service in World War One. His throat was damaged in a poison gas attack and gave him his unique vocal approach which was understated and intimate by the standard of the time where singers would belt out their songs. His rise into the public eye dovetailed with the advent of microphone technology in live vocal performance, allowing for the whispering romantic style.