Adding new chapters to the Great American Songbook
“The songs that have endured the longest, songs written between the 1920s and 1940s have an incredibly crafted combination of lyrics and melody,” says Steve Tyrell, who brings his loose, swinging interpretations of these classics to Feinstein’s at the Nikko later this month. “The lyrics aren’t poems, they’re matched up with the notes just perfectly and it’s the combination that fills them with meaning.”
But Tyrell’s repertoire isn’t limited to the early twentieth century, though. His recent recordings and live shows incorporate what he likes to call “The Great American Songbook 2,” which includes the work of his one-time Brill Building colleagues, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Lieber and Stoller. Asked what composers he thinks might end up in a third volume of the Great American Songbook, Tyrell points to Paul Simon, Carole King’s solo work, James Taylor, and “some of Billy Joel”.
But he saves his greatest enthusiasm for Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles. “I really do believe their songs will endure. They mix pop and country and R&B so beautifully. Those songs have already been around for 30 years, and they’ll sound just as good in another 30. I’m a huge fan.”
It turns out the feeling was mutual for the late Eagle. When Tyrell released his first album, A New Standard, in 1999, Frey bought 100 copies to give as holiday gifts.