Several months ago, while hunting for covers of Laura Nyro tunes on YouTube, I came across a version of her “Stoned Soul Picnic” by the band Swing Out Sister. (See my prior post about this discovery.)
As often happens, my curiosity led to me to search for other songs by this group, which resists labels outside the neologistic “pizzazz” (for pop and jazz). The one that truly transported me was “Am I the Same Girl?’
Pop and rhythm-and-blues aficionados will recognize this as a cover of a 1968 vocal hit by Barbara Acklin. But the jubilant horn section reminded me of an instrumental of the same melody from the same era by Young-Holt Unlimited. Just the first notes of the latter, whenever I hear it on an oldies station these days, make me feel the same way I did the first time in Durie Park in my hometown of Englewood, NJ.
By now, Swing Out Sister’s 2001 version, which you’ll find here in this YouTube clip, might count, in some quarters, as an oldie, too. But it sounds fresh, youthful and joyful, particularly in the hands of ebullient lead singer Corinne Drewery. For many who hear her opening invitation—“Why don’t you stop and look me over?”—she’ll have them at hello. (She certainly has her retro look down—a mashup of Emma Peel from The Avengers with Andrea Corr.)
For a short while after hearing the song a few months ago, I played this clip over and over. After the national fiasco that occurred this week, I found myself drawn to this all over again. Slowly, at least for awhile, my internal temperature moderated and I could smile again.