You must believe in spring

Judging by the variety of performances by artists on YouTube, “You Must Believe in Spring” must be a beloved and well-known song. It is popular as an instrumental — you can find it on the first posthumous Bill Evans album in a fantastic trio version — and you can understand why. What a melody. But the sentiment expressed in the English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman overlaid on that melody are what attract me most to the song. I had never heard it until John Pizzarelli played the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans version on Pizzarelli’s Radio Deluxe. Thank you, Mr. Pizzarelli.

The song was originally written by Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand for the 1967 musical film The Young Girls of Rochefort as “Chanson de Maxence.” Legrand composed the beautiful melody. You can find the movie version in French on YouTube too, but it won’t stop you in your tracks.

As befits this particular song, the Bennett/Evans partnership represented a sort of renewal of Bennett’s career. William Ruhlmann puts it this way at Allmusic: “As far as the major-label record business was concerned, the 46-year-old singer might have been over the hill and indulging himself, but in fact he was in his prime and finally able to pursue his ambitions unfettered, and that would prove itself a major boost to his career over time.”

On their second and final album together, Bennett and Evans extracted every ounce of sentiment in the song as refigured by the Bergmans, and maybe more. At least that’s the way I hear it. You may also want to check out the two alternate takes on the 2009 Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings.

I think I’m warming up for my annual post on “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” tomorrow. This morning I hoped some readers might take pleasure in this.

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