Imagined Albums: Getting Lost

Pondering albums that could never be, The Babe suggested one this morning: Chet Baker Sings Death Cab For Cutie. At first I laughed at the joke, imagining a clash of styles not unlike that famous piece David Sedaris did for NPR, where he imagined Billie Holiday singing the Coke jingle: "I'd liiike to buuuy the worrrrld...a cooooke..." he cooed, in perfect and hilarious imitation of Holiday's bluesy phrasing.

The more I thought about it, though, the more perfectly serendipitous the match seemed. It's not hard to hear Baker's unmistakeable quiver applied to lyrics like these, which echo the melancholy of the standards he favored:

I've got a hunger
Twisting my stomach into knots
That my tongue has tied off

My brain's repeating
"If you've got an impulse, let it out"
But they never make it past my mouth

I'd love to hear the chorus of "The Sound of Settling"-- or better yet, "A Lack of Color"-- graced by Baker's rueful trumpet, a sensation I imagine would be similar to the one evoked by Baker's expert phrasing on Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding." Had he lived, I imagine Baker might enjoy the witty, self-aware emo of Death Cab; after all, his own singing always balanced on the line between aching sincerity and deadpan parody, a recognition that humor and hurt are not opposites, but the intertwined melody and harmony of any good love song.


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