The Velvet Fogs

by Brad Nelson   4/7/14

There have been some great singers over the years…almost too many to list. But a few, I think, rise to the level of the sublime. Their voices are so pure and rich as to almost defy belief that something so beautiful could come out of a human being. They are the best of the best, a category unto themselves. They will be singing in the Angel Choirs if there is such a thing.

And I don’t mean “superstar.” Elton John is a superstar, and his voice is okay. But it’s not great. Aretha Franklin is a great performer, but I don’t find her voice to be like the gift of the gods as I do, say, Nat King Cole.

So do take part in our poll which you’ll find at the lower right of the page. Or write-in your choice here. And by all means, argue the point. Nothing is better than arguing about who is the best of the best.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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20 Responses to The Velvet Fogs

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Karen Carpenter. Pure warm honey without any additives.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I voted for her too, given that Dame Petula wasn’t listed (and, as you pointed out previously, Karen Carpenter probably did have the greatest pure voice of any popular singer I’ve ever heard).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I was going to list Petula Clark. But she didn’t make the cut. But you can certainly do a write-in vote in this thread.

        I voted for Bing. I’ve never heard anyone who can do bass notes so smooth. And hit the highs. Like true greats, they make it sound so easy. And his voice is pure and yet still has a deep character to it. But between him and Francis Albert, there’s not much to choose from.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Okay, Timothy. I added Petula Clark as a choice. I don’t know if you can un-vote to vote again.

        Also, I deleted Annie Lennox and substituted Freddie Mercury who I thought was a better contemporary voice. Maybe all that pole-smoking is good for the vocal chords. But he sure had them.

        And I don’t mean to influence the voting (there is no prize involved), but I’ll be very disappointed if Julie Andrews doesn’t receive a few votes.

        I quite agree that Karen Carpenter’s voice is smooth as honey. I’ll say nothing against her. But I do prefer the tone and timber of Andrews’ voice.

        I also added Roy Orbison. I had meant to have him on the list originally but overlooked him.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I don’t know how to unvote, but there may be others who appreciate the musical brilliance (she also wrote some of her music; I have a CD of songs written or co-written by her, Beautiful Sounds) of Dame Petula. It might seem wrong to call her that, given that a Labor government put her on the Honors list, but what the heck . . . there was her comment in an updated version of “Typically English”: “And when Harold Wilson asks us to pay typically English tax, we say, ‘Sorry, not a typically English chance.'”

  2. rodander says:

    Gotta vote for Luciano. Voice like butter, and made the horribly difficult sound effortless. And a standout in a genre that includes the very best singers.

    I could have been tempted to vote for Ella Fitzgerald had she been on the ballot, tho. And perhaps a spot for George Jones could have been found on the list.

  3. steve lancaster says:

    The old guy goes with . . .drum roll please

    Vera Lynn, not only a sweet voice, even into her 90’s, but the voice of an age in English history.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    My favorite is the opera coloratura soprana Joan Sutherland. The most beautiful and pure voice ever created from the workshop of God

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I think you may be correct about Sutherland. Her voice was much purer than Sills’. Sills liked to perform acrobatics, but she couldn’t hold a candle to Sutherland for tone. I met Sills briefly and she was a big woman.

      As for men, Jussi Bjorling is superior to Pavoratti, who I heard live in the early 1970’s while taking voice in college. He was just starting to gain real fame. Again, he was good, but I have to admit, I was not as impressed as others seemed to be.

      • Pokey Possum says:

        You sing, KFZ? Glenn plays 12-string guitar….I’ll bring my conga drums – we can take this show on the road!!!

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m in the midst of a booster campaign for Petula Clark and it seems to be working. I should have done this for my beloved Bing. 🙂

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I like what you did with the two music clips on the upper right hand side. I listened to Petula for the first time in years.

    Like most people, I started to say it brought back memories, but that is not quite right. It would be more correct to say that it prompted a happy feeling about a time when I was a child, without conjuring up specific memories.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Glad you liked that. Alas, it could only be temporary because, for some reason, doing that slows down my browser.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Unfortunately, I was unable to play the clips, though I’m quite familiar with both songs (“Superstar” and “I Know a Place”). A friend of mine considers his personal theme song to be “Goodbye to Love”. (I’ll admit I know it by heart as well, though I’m more inclined to list “I Am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel as my theme song; I discovered 40 years ago that I could play it repeatedly on the Sounds of Silence album by pulling back the changer [so that it would repeat] and setting the record size at 7 inches.)

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thank you to all poll participants. It was a tight contest between Frank Sinatra and Karen Carpenter, both very worthy contenders. But ol’ Blue Eyes eked out a 5-to-4 provisional victory — provisional because I’ll keep that poll open in the poll archive.

    The really important thing to learn from this is Babs didnt get one vote. 😀 I didn’t expect much support for her on this conservative site.

    Even so, I’m a bit disappointed that my favorite, Der Bingle, received only one vote (mine). Still, when I look around the web and often see Bob Dylan listed as one of the greatest singers ever, I feel quite comfortable in the little Waco-like walled-off ranch I create in my mind that separates me (somewhat) from the vulgar majority.

    And that’s not to say that I look down on middle class tastes. That’s a big no-no and outs you surely as a Communist type. But let’s be fair, the “middle class tastes” have gone to the dogs of late thanks to the idiot box and other degenerative sources. Criticism of bad tastes does not necessarily mean that one is an ivory tower elitist.

    But at StubbornThings I can at least say that taste won out. Three of the four best singers finished at the top: Sinatra, Carpenter, and Andrews. Why Der Bingle didn’t draw more votes is anyone’s guess. I’ll be sure to rig the next election, like any good Democrat would.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, the votes might have been a bit different if Petula Clark had been available from the beginning. As for Bing Crosby vs. Bob Dylan, I definitely would prefer the former (Dylan’s merits as a songwriter were never matched by any merits as a singer, as I noticed in the 1960s). But it’s undoubtedly no accident that my favorite singers are female.

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