As many of you know, Brian Savin, my friend and colleague and the producer of all our Serenade Radio Songs of the Week, died a week-and-a-half ago. We marked his passing with one of our very first shows together, from forty years back. As a companion piece, here is a reprise of one of our more recent collaborations.
For those in the northern hemisphere, fall nips the air, and for some of us the autumnal melancholy is a little more particular this season. Here is a song that drifts like a leaf in an October wind from French poem to Hungarian tune to American lyric. This is the story of a classic song from Yves Montand to Ian Fleming, with performances by an array of stars from Cora Vaucaire and Tino Rossi to Nat King Cole and Eva Cassidy.
Click above to listen - and listen out for how Brian mixes the words and the music so brilliantly. I will give just two examples:
In the passage where I recite Johnny Mercer's lyric over Joseph Kosma's tune, I had originally had something else in mind, but Brian thought it came out a bit leaden and plonking, so he suggested something different - and he was quite right; it was much better.
Later, at the very end, the closing musical selection is a live performance. So it ends with applause - and Brian felt all the clapping intruded on the intimacy of the moment, so he took it out and, as it began somewhat prematurely, before the end had quite ended, he managed to extend the final chord, to close the show properly.
Brian did dozens of things like that, every week. I can't really contemplate carrying on with these kinds of shows without him, and, as you'll hear, the subtext of this edition - the intimations of mortality in the chill of autumn - ring especially poignant in this encore presentation.
Thank you for all your kind comments on last week's show. From John Cameron in Manchester, England:
Serenade radio, the radio station you didn't know you needed. It's great listening!
Thank you Brian Savin.
From Josh Passell in Massachusetts:
Thank you for all these shows, no matter how old. No one does it like you--and Brian Savin. I worked at the college radio station, and learned to mix by playing back two tape reels and recording on a third (sometimes while narrating on mic); splicing involved a razor blade, tape, and a grease pencil. I don't care how easy it is to do now, the results are nothing short of masterpieces. The way Mr. Savin mixed and spliced the music with your incomparable commentary made you two a Kern and Fields in your own rights. We will miss the art, you will miss the man. We are both the poorer.
From Melanie Tighe in California:
I'm so sorry to hear this sad news, Mark. My condolences to you and all who knew Brian Savin. He sounds like a remarkably gifted man whose talents will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.
From David Kelley-Wood in Texas;
Condolences to those close to Brian Savin. As you've described him, Mark, he was quite the accomplished gentleman. I for one have certainly been enriched by the small part of his work that I've been exposed to.
From Bruce Jones, also in Texas:
I love Steyn's Song of the Week. Each episode is wonderfully edited with musical inserts that bring to life these great stories. Mr. Savin's genius will be sorely missed.
From Fran Lavery in New Mexico:
This was very sad news to hear last evening, both for the loss to Brian Savin's family and to those of us who enjoyed listening in to Serenade Radio UK. I've always been so enthused to hear the Serenade Song of the Week show but only through these impeccable and splendid audio presentations have I gradually come to appreciate just how the genius and talent behind the scenes helps to make the genius in front of the microphone shine so brilliantly. Rest in Peace, Brian Savin.
This airing of Steyn's Serenade Song of the Week is a special presentation of The Mark Steyn Club. We do enjoy your comments on the show. Steyn Clubbers are welcome to leave them below - or anybody can leave them over at Serenade Radio, where they love hearing from listeners.
~Steyn's Song of the Week airs thrice weekly on Serenade Radio in the UK, one or other of which broadcasts is certain to be convenient for whichever part of the world you're in:
5.30pm Sunday London (12.30pm New York)
5.30am Monday London (4.30pm Sydney)
9pm Thursday London (1pm Vancouver)
Whichever you prefer, you can listen from anywhere on the planet right here.
~If you would rather read Mark on "Autumn Leaves", his essay on the song is just one of many collected together in his book A Song For The Season. Personally autographed copies of this beloved book among Steyn fans are available from the SteynOnline bookstore - and, if you're a Mark Steyn Club member, don't forget to enter the special promo code at checkout to enjoy the special Steyn Club member discount.