Ave atque vale
Stan Cornyn died this week. I met him in the Eighties, when he was an exec with Warner Bros or as it was then (if memory serves) WEA (Warner-Elektra-Asylum). I gushed like a fangurl: "Oh, my God! I can't believe it!! You're the best!!! You're the greatest!!!!"
I didn't mean the best at whatever it is an executive vice-president of a multinational record company does, but the best at liner notes - sleeve notes. And, back in the pre-CD, pre-download days, when records came in big sleeves and the guy who wrote the notes was on the back with star billing and not tucked away in some small-print leaflet inside the case, Stan Cornyn raised liner notes to the level of art. When I was a teenage disc-jockey, I got out Strangers In The Night, intending to say something about whichever track I was going to play. And then my eye fell on Cornyn's back-of-the-LP riff, and I thought wow, no point competing with this guy. They were the first and last liner notes I ever read on air. The whole thing, soup to nuts:
Always wanted to write like that, but could never quite pull it off. On the other hand, here's Cornyn on Sinatra and Jobim:
Lovely. Petula Clark might have proved a trickier assignment, but Stan gave it his best:
Yes, yes, we get it - undressed, swearing, swingers. Are we gonna get to Petula anytime soon?
I'm just riffling through my record collection here, but I could go on all day. One more, from Happiness Is Dean Martin:
I still love it when I'm browsing old record stores, flip over the LP and find Cornyn on the other side. Very few people can say they're the best in the world at what they do. But Stan Cornyn was. It would be a fitting tribute if the stonemasons made his gravestone with the epitaph chiseled on the back. Rest in peace.
from Ave atque vale, May 16, 2015
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