As it was foolishly foretold, even though I now realise that I cannot think of nearly as many examples as I’d like, I’m obliged to go on with the next topic regardless: memorable ad libs.
Synonymous with improvisation, the ad lib comes from the Latin ad libitum, meaning “at will” or “at (one’s) pleasure”. For the purpose of this and in the interest of discussion, I take it to mean any additional word, words or amusing sound freely and merrily included in a song; usually one made spontaneously without preparation or forethought (thinking, presumably, of John Lennon’s theatrics at the close of ‘Cold Turkey’), but so often remembered and recreated eagerly with impeccable timing (such as Roy Orbison’s growl on ‘Pretty Woman’).
I thought of Ray Charles and ‘Hit the Road, Jack’. I thought of Michael Jackson and the wide assortment of unique sounds he made throughout his career both on stage and record, many of them difficult to impersonate and others almost indecipherable. I can’t help but feel that the rather lame “Make that change” which closes one of his finest songs, ‘Man In the Mirror’, whether spontaneous or not, is unfortunately all too clear. Still, when in the mood for it, I dutifully include every sniff, snort and sharp intake of breath when singing along to his tunes, as any good fan surely should, particularly when driving alone in the car where nobody else can hear. (Well, don’t you? Be honest.)
I remembered Jerry Lee Lewis, who, like Bob Dylan, rarely sings any song exactly the same way twice. Unlike Bob Dylan however, he has at times ad-libbed the most controversial and borderline offensive, yet often very witty, remarks. Frank Sinatra, as touched upon in the previous post and likely many posts before it, has been given many a moniker during a long career, but he truly was a master of the ad lib. Just watch him at the Royal Festival Hall in ’71.
Yet my first thoughts were of the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘All You Need is Love’, specifically the timed-to-perfection recreation of the latter by Oasis, obviously borne out of tremendous respect for the original – ‘She Loves You’ and all.
Aside from the obvious (dare I say unimaginative and sometimes a bit desperate?) references to the visiting town or city, such as Leonard Cohen’s on one of, if not all, his recent live presentations of ‘Hallelujah’ (“I didn’t come all the way to [insert venue] just to fool you”) and, from experience of attending concerts across Wales, the oh-so predictable and now very tiresome compliments paid to the Welsh stereotype for its sublime singing capabilities (not always ably demonstrated when put on the spot by a big-name star, it has to be said), do also consider those charming snippets of studio jest captured by ever-faithful recording equipment and forever retained for others’ amusement, such as on the Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews duet, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ (“It’s bloody freezing, innit?”).
So, with no further ado (because it’s been quite long already, sorry about that), let’s have some more of those memorable vocal ad libs, please. And do reveal whether or not you include them when singing along to your favourites.
Best musical ad libs welcome, too. I recall, for example, David including a portion of ‘La Marseillaise’ at concerts in France when touring The Division Bell.
Lastly, the chatroom will be open tomorrow from 12pm (UK), should you have nothing better to do for two hours.