Frank Ocean, “Moon River”

Henry Mancini dreamed up that sighing melody in 1961, back when he was at the peak of his composing powers.

You have to give Frank Ocean credit. First of all, his recent decision to cover “Moon River” took bravery, as the song, more than a half-century old, might be lost on his younger fans. Meanwhile, the idea that he could bring anything new to this warhorse that’s been done a million times before seemed like folly. Yet he did an amazing job, as each one of his multitracked vocals seemed to be coming at that time-worn melody from a different angle with different timing, finding new twists on one of the most wistful tunes ever written. Back in 1961, Henry Mancini dreamed up that sighing melody, back when was at the peak of his composing powers. That heart-stopping leap up the scale from the first note to the second seemed to represent the adventurous spirit of the lyrics conjured by ace lyricist Johnny Mercer. Mercer had to imagine the words being sung by Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the film version of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Hepburn sings it in the film sitting on a fire escape, strumming a guitar, her breathy vocals curling around the words like a cat while the hint of a tear forms in the corner…

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