If I am sitting at a piano, which is usually every other hour of the day....I will find myself picking away at a new song idea or practicing something recently written to be recorded later. And I find that 9 out of 10 times my mind will wander into George Gershwin territory.
I can't seem to help myself, I'll start with "Our Love is Here to Stay" and then move on to "The Man I Love" and usually end with the first 5 minutes of "Rhapsody in Blue" (And in case you're wondering, no, I can in no way play that entire piece).
It makes me wonder if in 80 years someone will be sitting at a piano and perhaps be casually writing a song and then stop to play something from the Justin Bieber catalog. I'd like to say "no, that's absurd", but really I have no idea where the standards for great standards will be measured in the future. I think it's reasonably safe to assume that all Gershwin works will forever be considered as classic and brilliant to any generation.
There are those rare times when you come across a song or a piece of music (new music) that you hear for the very first time and you realize that you are listening to something great. Something worthy of Gershwin. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does happen it is really special.
And many times it's quite subjective, it's simply your opinion that it is an extraordinary piece of work. And perhaps it isn't a popular piece yet, simply because the masses have not yet deemed it worthy until it has been mass circulated and played constantly on the radio for many years and then scrutinized by critics until the stars burn out.
A few writers come to mind, those I hold as high as the Gershwin's. Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout) is certainly at the top of that list. Paul McCartney is a natural shoe-in, and arguably one of the greatest (living or dead) popular song writers of all time. And I have heard remarkable pieces written by some of my friends, songs that I feel are surely in that 'special category'. I feel very fortunate to know and work with these people.
I believe that I have a couple of songs slated for the new album - songs that are somewhat influenced by Gershwin, melodically speaking. Well, you be the judge of that. Back to work I go.
I'll leave you with some Gershwin that has been lovingly worked into this old episode of that great George Lucas produced TV show:
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and sung by the remarkable Linda Ronstadt. - Scott