By Tom Quiner
What a great song.
I heard Cole Porter’s masterpiece, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” sung last night by local songstress, Gina Gedler. Ms. Gedler is a local fixture on the Des Moines music scene, and one of our local gems.
She made Porter’s song come alive once again, backed by an impressive jazz trio.
My all time favorite interpretation of the song is Frank Sinatra’s, using Nelson Riddle’s legendary arrangement. You can watch it above. The arrangement dazzles, and Sinatra is in full command of the lyrics, the stage, and the audience.
What makes Sinatra better than anyone else is the way he expresses the lyrics. He isn’t just singing the words, he’s living the words. As you can see in the video above, his connection with the audience is electric. The audience feels it: he really does have us under his skin.
Riddle’s driving arrangement puts all of his big band weapons to full use, complete with explosive trumpets and a wonderful trombone solo. Mr. Riddle was a trombonist himself, and always used the instrument to good effect. Sinatra was at his best when he collaborated with Nelson Riddle. Some of Ol’ Blue Eye’s later arrangers dished up heavy, mushy arrangements that bogged down some great songs and left you feeling like you needed a nap.
Riddle’s arrangements were always crisp, smart, fresh. This song, to me, epitomized the greatness of Riddle and Sinatra. I never grow tired to listening to it.
No one can sing this song better. And then along came Diana Krall.
Ms. Krall looked at Porter’s delectable love song and turned it upside down, as you can see in the video clip below.
Krall makes it crawl with a lovely lilt that makes you forget Sinatra. Like Sinatra, she’s living the words as she sings them. But she’s singing them to a secret lover. Sinatra is singing to us.
The lush orchestration segues midway through the song to an understated and intimate piano solo by Ms. Krall. It is as if she is making love to the piano, it is that sensuous.
Krall’s version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was arranged by the great German arranger, Claus Ogerman. Why try to mimic or outdo Riddle? Ogerman wisely took a completely different path to create a breathtakingly passionate take on a classic song.
Riddle vs. Ogerman.
Sinatra vs. Krall.
Which version is the best?
Who cares! They’re both classics. Both showcase artists at the height of their powers.