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  1. #1

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    Researching the melody for performance, I lucked up on this recording---which stopped me in my tracks. Nancy always does.

    The lyric is one of those love-obsessed-close-to-self-flagellation deals popular in the late '50s-early '60s, and well done. (Tom Lehrer parodied these hilariously in The Masochism Tango). The melody is divine.

    (Lead sheet to follow whenever I get off my ass)...



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  3. #2
    ...and, instrumentally, Bill Evans explored that melody for over 14 minutes solo...


  4. #3
    Here's an analysis from my slowly evolving book, American Music Redux. (I used my key, not the original, until I can further research the song):

    Never Let Me Go

    Jay Livingston and Ray Evans had quite a run of hit songs, all of fine quality. To this writer Never Let Me Go is a standout.
    I suppose one could argue that the lyric veers too close to obsessive self-flagellation for comfort. But people do love like that, if we’re being real---so it hits a nerve. However, it’s the music that grabs me:

    The writing features harmonic and melodic peregrination as effectively brought off as anything in the Song Book canon. And it doesn’t just move, it moves with purpose, peaking on the line ‘You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?’, then bringing it home with lower melody note choices and a lyrical restatement: ‘Never let me go, never let me go’, as this wild emotional ride finally settles down.
    Starting in minor mode (A minor in the key of C Major) it ends on the relative major of C---but what a ride til it gets there! The first strain, under ‘Never Let Me Go…’ descends a whole step to G minor, with the melody closely following suit. The G minor, in turn, becomes a ‘pivot’, a ii chord leading to the V of C 7, and mooring temporarily in what would seem a I (or IV) chord, F major. But it doesn’t settle, and there’s no real modulation, just a downward then upward chordal spiral.

    The next sequence, F major7 E 7 Eb major7 D7 (usually preceded by its ii, A minor), on the lines ‘What would I be without you? There's no place for me without you,’ is chromatic. The nice variation of major, 7th, major, 7th was unusual and daring for the time, and has been since used by as harmonically ingenious a composer as Stevie Wonder in Too Shy to Say (‘And I can’t go on this way…’) and other modern pop composers. But Livingston was there first. The melody (and emotion) rises and falls with the next lines: ‘Never let me go, I'd be lost if you went away; There would be a thousand hours a day, without you, I know’. Now Livingston has migrated to D minor, again seeming to lead to a resolution in the mother key of C major. Instead, it lands on C minor, with the melody note B the major 7th. That C minor (now a minor 7th, with the B becoming Bb) in turn also becomes a pivot to yet another temporary mooring: Bb major.

    Next, the truly magical happens: The Bb leads to A7, a V to D major, which abruptly takes us to a very unexpected E7---leading us right back to A minor in a perfectly constructed circle. As stated, the song peaks lyrically, harmonically, and melodically on ‘You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?’ A minor to D7 (usually with an added #11, especially as played by jazzers); to the final resolution in C major, via a spiced up ii V of D minor G7.

    Magical is the word.

  5. #4

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    Nancy is a queen! I had the pleasure of seeing her at a New Years Eve concert in 1995. She was the real deal!

  6. #5

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    The melody's pretty dismal but the soloing's fun. I can see why Bill Evans did 14 minutes of it - and another take of ten.


  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Researching the melody for performance, I lucked up on this recording---which stopped me in my tracks. Nancy always does.

    The lyric is one of those love-obsessed-close-to-self-flagellation deals popular in the late '50s-early '60s, and well done. (Tom Lehrer parodied these hilariously in The Masochism Tango). The melody is divine.

    (Lead sheet to follow whenever I get off my ass)...


    One of her fine early albums. My 'go to' version of that tune has always been Irene Kral's stunning performance with perfect piano accompaniment by Alan Broadbent:


  8. #7
    Yeah, she was great---and I remember that version. So is he---and a wonderful writer, arranged for a lot of top people.

    Thanks for that...

  9. #8

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    Yeah, that Nancy one clinches it, lovely singing, that late-night mellow feel... nice. They should use it for a film, if they haven't already.

  10. #9

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    Really enjoyed reading your analysis joelf.

    Speaking of duet versions (loved the Irene Kral Alan Braodbent version). Here's one from Montreal's Renee Yoxon and Rene Gely on bandcamp :

    Never Let Me Go | Renee Yoxon

  11. #10

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    Yeah, that's pretty. Nicely recorded.