10 January 2014
Discovering Gene McDaniels
After expressing my intense dislike of Frank Sinatra over a pre-Christmas dinner, I was asked who my favorite "Crooner" was. Was it Mel Torme? "No," I said while thinking Mel was more obnoxious than Frank. "Tony Bennett?" I shook my head and added, "Only if it's Alec Baldwin doing Bennett." "Well…who then?" I thought for a moment and finally blurted, "Harry Nilsson." My dinner companions feigned an ersatz, "Hmmm, interesting…" and returned to their Welsh Rarebit appetizer.
If I had only seen Gene McDaniels.
Hidden away in the white watusi world of Dixieland Jazz and Brit Pop that is, "It's Trad Dad," which I do love, is the elegant performance of Gene McDaniels lending soul to an equally white watusi Bacharach and David standard, "Another Tear Falls." It's timeless, smokey and sadly too short -- McDaniel's creamy but blasting vocal gives me goosebumps.
My cynicism was not at all surprised when I discovered Gene McDaniel's singing career never took off the way it should have. But Gene wrote the hit, "Compared to What" for Les McCann and in this video shortly before his death in 2011, he goes into fascinating detail about his struggles and his eventual success as songwriter and music producer.
I'm just beginning to discover Gene and have no business writing about his career or music. But if you, like me, never heard of Gene and are as moved by "Another Tear" as I am, then you'll have an answer when asked who your favorite crooner is.
Eugene McDaniels Website