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The Nearness of You

    I received a request this week for The Nearness of You from Doug, who together with Florence used to stop by from time to time back when I was playing at the Rittenhouse and the Ritz Carlton.  It was one of Florence’s favorites and he asked me to do it in her memory.

      The song was written in 1937 by Hoagy Carmichael who seems to keep popping up in these weekly tunes (see Ole Buttermilk Sky and Heart and Soul in the Tune Archive).  Ned Washington did the lyrics.

     It’s one of those standards where the opening phrase just grabs you, like Gershwin’s Our Love is Here to Stay (“It’s very clear”…) and then doesn’t let go.  So you hum it until you’re fairly fed up with it and then sometime when you think you’ve gotten over it you find yourself  going “It’s not the pale moon…”

    Another classic quality of the song is the irony of its lyrics which, like so many standards of this era, dutifully raise the usual tin pan alley images of romance (moon, candlelight etc.) only to dismiss them finally as cliché and not really worthy of the one sung to.  Compare it to say, My Romance, which also “doesn’t need to have a moon in the sky” or Moonlight Becomes You (“It’s not just because there’s moonlight”).  There are dozens of examples like this and they result in a tone that is both clever and poignantly humble.

      Click on the title in red below to hear my version.  I tried singing again, which isn’t so easy when you’re also playing saxophone.

The Nearness of You

It’s not the pale moon that excites me,

That thrills and delights me,

Oh no

It’s just the nearness of you.

It isn’t your sweet conversation

That brings this sensation

Oh no

It’s just the nearness of you.

When you’re in my arms

And I feel you so close to me

All my wildest dreams come true

I need no soft lights to enchant me

If you’ll only grant me

The right

To hold you ever so tight

And to feel in the night

The nearness of you.


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