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Don Shirley - Drown In My Own Tears
Cadence CLP3057 [1962]  Stereo CLP25057    

AUDIO NOTES This LP was recorded mono and stereo at the Fine Recording Studios In New York on October 12th, December 12th and December 14, 1961 with the exception of I GOT RHYTHM, which was recorded on July 13, 1960. Recording engineers George Piros and John Quinn employed two Telefunken U-47 microphones for piano pickup and one U·47 each for organ, cello, bass and percussion.
The tapes were recorded directly on Ampex 300 recorders and the master lacquers were cut directly from the original tapes by Claude Rie on a Neumann lathe with a Neumann SX45 cutter for stereo and a Neumann ES59 cutter for mono. Both cutters are flat within 1 DB from 30 cycles to 18,000 cycles.
This high fidelity recording has been patterned to the RIM curve and will give best results when playback amplifiers are set for this curve.


Reissued with 5 additional Songs on
Collectable Golden Classics



Side A
1. Drown In My Own Tears
(Henry Glover)
Jay & Cee Music Corp., BMI 2:14
Piano and Organ: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker; Cello: Juri Taht; Percussion: Ted Sommer

2. Margie

(B. Davis -- C. Conrad -- J.R. Robinson)
Mills Music, Inc., ASCAP 4:25
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker. Cello: Donald Anderson
3. Stand By Me
(B.E. King -- E. Glick)
Trio, ADT, BMI 2:13
Piano and Organ: Don Shirley' Bass: Ken Fricker; Cello: Donald Anderson· Percussion: Ted Sommer
4. Willow Weep For Me
(Ann Ronell)
Bourne Inc., ASCAP 5:09
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker· Cello: Donald Anderson
5. I Got Rhythm
(G. Gershwin -- I. Gershwin)
New World Music Corp., ASCAP 2:12
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker' Cello: Juri Taht
6. Georgia On My Mind
(H. Carmichael -- S. Gorrel)
Peer International Corp., ASCAP 7:33
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker· Cello: Donald Anderson

Side B
1. The Lonesome Road
(G. Austin -- N Shilkret)
Paramount Music Corp., ASCAP 2:21
Piano and Organ: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker; Cello: Juri Taht· Percussion: Ted Sommer

2. At Last

(M. Gordon -- H. Warren)
Warren Leo Feist Inc., ASCAP 4:02
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker. Cello: Donald Anderson
3. Amen
(Don Shirley)
Walbridge Co., BMI 4:00
Piano and Organ: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker; Cello: Donald Anderson· Percussion: Ted Sommer
4. Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe
(H. Arlen -- E. Y. Harburg)
Leo Feist Inc., ASCAP 3:52
Piano and Organ: Don Shirley
5. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
(J. Mercer - H. Arlen)
Edwin H. Morris & Co., Inc., ASCAP 5:12
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker· Cello: Donald Anderson; Percussion: Ted Sommer
6. Just For A Thrill
(L. Armstrong - D. Raye)
Leeds Music Corp., ASCAP 4:57
Piano: Don Shirley; Bass: Ken Fricker· Cello: Donald Anderson; Percussion: Ted Sommer

          "In these songs I'm coming back to the roots," Don Shirley explained over the long-distance telephone. And what are these roots? They are the misery, the passion and the pathos, the surge toward freedom and the flashes of pure, unadulterated, living-for-the-moment joy which, welded into one, have resulted in what has been commonly called "that down-home" feeling.
          This record is different from others by Shirley--different maybe only in spots-but there are enough spots so that its appeal reaches out to more than the fascinated fans who over the years have gathered to hear him in the country's poshest night clubs, as well as to the eminent musicologists who have acclaimed his work in concert halls. There are within these tracks moments of raw vigor, of a kind of unbridled enthusiasm and a "to-hell-with-what-they-might-be-thinking-back-at-the-Leningrad-Conservatory" freedom that captures the aver· age human's raw emotions. (When he was only nine, Don was invited to study at Leningrad, and he spent a good part of his youth there.) And yet there remains so much of Don Shirley's superb musical taste and technique that anyone who has followed his achievements will immediately recognize who it is who is interpreting songs Ray Charles has made famous, or offering unique conceptions of the more sophisticated melodies of Gershwin and Arlen.
          That was quite a phone call, the one alluded to back in the opening sentence. When our telephone operator had asked for "Mr. Don Shirley," the hotel operator had replied, "we have a Doctor Shirley," which immediately reminded us that Don had achieved three Ph.D's--in music, psychology and liturgical arts-and also that he speaks eight languages. Fortunately he spoke only English as he offered such revelatory comments as:
          "Trying to find any way to play honestly and truthfully has been difficult." He admitted, on this particular record, to sometimes changing his point of view and "it was a revelation in my case." But there still remained doubts about the effect-more so than about the cause, sociologically as well as musically.
          Don had been expecting the phone call and had prepared a statement. He began reading: "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story. It is a story which otherwise has yet to be told and which no American is prepared to hear.
          "Americans who evade, so far as possible, all genuine experiences, have therefore no way of assessing the experiences of others and no way of establishing themselves in relation to any way of life which is not their own. Thus the idea of my music can be presented without fear of contradiction, since no American has the knowledge or authority to contest it and no Negro has the voice.
          "I happen to be the living example of something I'm not able to identify myself with." Shirley is an American Negro; yet both his training and his upbringing have been predominantly in the white man's world and much of his youth was lived in Europe. Little wonder then, as he said, "trying to find any way to play honestly and truthfully has been difficult."
          And yet, it is just this sort of ambivalence that makes this the most intriguingly diversified of all Don Shirley records. Take the opening DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS (also called I'll DROWN IN MY TEARS), certainly a return to the roots with an earthy feeling reminiscent of Ray Charles' famous
interpretation. To Shirley this is "gospel music. Ray Charles Sings and plays like an honest, truthful human being." Don plays both organ and piano. Which came first? "The piano; then I overdubbed the organ."
          In MARGIE Shirley is "trying to say something seriously and slowly." Instead of resorting to the usual middle-tempoed, business-man's bounce approach, Don plays the song very slowly, emphasizing its pretty melodic line. "I'm talking about how wonderful she is." As for the breaks at the end of the
first sixteen bars of each chorus-"I don't want anybody to think I've lost my sense of humor."
          STAND BY ME is what Don calls "a Negro gospel shout song," and he treats it accordingly, complete with passionate rhythmic urging from the organ. Though the song is most commonly associated with recording artist Ben E. King, Don expresses great admiration for the way Damita Jo sang the
"answer" song containing the same melody, I'll STAND BY YOU. The unusual rhythmic effect, by the way, comes from a Latin-American percussion instrument called a scraper.
          WILLOW WEEP FOR ME displays Shirley's great breadth of interpretation of a popular standard. Here, more than on any other selection on this record, his classical training and technique seep through, as expressed by his emotional use of dynamics and his magnificent articulation. The approach
varies: the first chorus florid and majestic, the second tender and warm, the first three-quarters of the third gay and swinging, with the final portion reverting to a combination of the tender and the majestic.
          George Gershwin's I GOT RHYTHM has never been approached before as it is here. "I went back to the source," Don explains. "Gershwin had done so too. He was very sincere about his pop tunes. The song is based on an old Negro spiritual called 'You Must Come In At The Door.' The lyrics go
                                 'My lawd is so high, you can't get over it;
                                 My lawd is so low, you can't get under it;
                                 My lawd is so wide, you can't get around it;
                                 You must come in at the door.' "
Don plays the song slowly, with deep feeling, and the effect is further enhanced by the very simple, almost gospel-like rhythmic pattern set by the bass.
          In GEORGIA ON MY MIND, Don thinks of "Georgia" as a woman instead of as a southern state. Ray Charles must have felt the same way, Don believes, when he made his famous record of this Hoagy Carmichael classic. "This way the song puts me in a better frame of mind and helps me create the scene or situation I'm trying to portray." The effect is heightened by the lovely, legato countermelody played by the cello.
          The second side starts with an unusual rendition of THE LONESOME ROAD. But here the approach is not, as one might expect, simple and earthy. Instead, Don embellishes the standard with a stimulating rhythmic effect that seems to be in 6/4 time and "can be, if you feel it that way. But to me, I hear it in 4/4," says Shirley. You figure it out.
          AT LAST, a wonderfully moody effort, has nothing at all to do with the famous Glenn Miller interpretation. "The opening is plain Mahalia Jackson." Here, as Don puts it, "I play words." The words are romantic and so is Don's playing. "But at the end I play sort of a joke when I interpolate HUMORESQUE." Again, as seriously as he takes it, he doesn't want anybody to think he's lost his sense of humor.
          In AMEN Don admits to a revival meeting set-up, in which the right hand plays the part of the preacher and the bass and percussion answer with amen shouts. The tune, an original by Shirley based on the blues, has what Don likes to call a "moaning" feeling.
          Harold Arlen's HAPPINESS IS A THING CALLED JOE offers Shirley with no rhythmic support at all. The song was introduced by Ethel Waters, then revived by Frances Wayne when she sang in Woody Herman's band. Don's first chorus is out of tempo and heightens the subtle, rhythmic effect of the in-tempo second. "I met Frances some years ago," he recalls.
          "She sang this song so wonderfully-especially those lines, 'It's Christmas everywhere.''' (They occur from the 22nd through the 24th bar of the song.)
          The following Arlen opus, ONE FOR MY BABY, features a catchy rhythmic bass pattern conceived by Shirley and an especially effective ending that sets the futile mood of the song. Shirley has always admired Arlen for his musical training and his jazz experiences, both of which are reflected in his songs.
          JUST FOR A THRILL again reflects Don's enthusiasm for Ray Charles, replete as it is with down-home feelings.
          In these dozen selections, Don Shirley has achieved an amazing variety of musical moods. Maybe, like the true arist [sic] he is, he can never be completely satisfied with what he has created. So be it. But to us, on the outside of Don Shirley, for whom these performances carry so much conviction and validity, his contention that finding any way to play honestly and truthfully is difficult, must, by the very evidence contained herein, fall on deaf ears. But never so his music!