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A List Of 5 Songs About ... Lists

Detail from the cover art to Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson. (Verve Records)

Over the past few years, Take Five's theme-based jazz lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We've covered the careers of legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming artists, styles, periods, holidays, regional scenes and more. Today, Take Five goes "meta" and presents a list of songs about... lists.

The lyrical conceits of these five songs are simply to list things. And, of course, feel free to suggest your favorite songs about lists that weren't included here. ("What, no 'Route 66'? Really?")

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Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me

Here's an upbeat and tongue-twisting list of things that can give you the blues. It was written in 1919 and recorded, mostly as an instrumental, by early jazz artists like Sidney Bechet, Wilber de Paris and Cab Calloway. It was almost rescued from semi-obscurity in the 1960s by The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, which provides us with this spirited version.

Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)

Cole Porter apparently took great joy in composing "list" songs. "Let's Do It," written in 1928, is the first in a list of songs about lists from this great songwriter; songs including "You're the Top" and "Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking)." Here, Louis Armstrong and the Oscar Peterson Trio take a pleasant stroll through Porter's list of all the people, birds, aquatic creatures, insects and animals that "do it" — by which, Porter insisted, he meant "fall in love." (Riiiight.)

These Foolish Things

This evocative list of lost love comes from British songwriters Jack Strachey (music) and Eric Maschwitz (lyrics). And what a lyric! "The winds of March that make my heart a dancer / A telephone that rings, but who's to answer? / Oh, how the ghost of you clings / These foolish things remind me of you." Johnny Hartman's version gets the most out of every syllable.

My Favorite Things

This is certainly one of the best-known "list" songs, but we almost didn't include it. Over time, the version with words has become associated with Christmas, even though it isn't a Christmas list. In the end, though, it had to be here. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut, performing with vocalist Anita Baker, does a fine version of it. We hope you enjoy list-ening. (Sorry.)

Waters Of March

"The Waters of March (Águas de Março)" by Antonio Carlos Jobim: the ultimate "list" song. The correct (though needlessly narrow) view would be to say that the song is about the images that came to Jobim as he wrote about Brazil's rainiest month. But, really, "Waters of March" celebrates much more than that. In a recent listener poll by Jazz24, Susannah McCorkle's beautiful rendition of the song was voted one of 50 Great Jazz Vocal Recordings.

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