Mad about the Boy – Blossom Dearie


The song Mad about the Boy was written by Noel Coward and published in 1932. It’s a song about an infatuation with a movie star and has generally been performed by female singers, although it was apparently inspired by Coward’s own crush on Douglas Fairbanks Jnr (which wasn’t reciprocated). The song became popular again in 1992 when a version recorded by Dinah Washington was used in a famous Levi commercial. . I never liked Noel Coward’s own recording – with him singing in a curious falsetto – very much at all, although I suppose it is authentic to what Coward was writing about. For a long time my favourite version was Dinah Washington’s but recently I came across this version, which has now, for me, eclipsed that one.

Blossom Dearie was a very underrated singer and pianist. Her voice – very high and girlish – was well suited to the whimsical songs she seemed to like to sing, but it meant that she wasn’t taken as seriously as a singer as she might have been. The lack of appreciation of her singing also extended to her piano playing, which was consistently excellent and innovative. No less a pianist than the great Bill Evans was a huge admirer of her musicianship, and he even attributed his use of stacked fourths in the left hand as inspired by Blossom Dearie. Other reasons to like this recording are that it was made live at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London and she goes straight into a verse that’s missed in many versions, probably because it uses the word “gay”. I love the way the accompaniment changes the mood each time she repeats the verses.

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