From the liner notes to "Songs From the Girl Singer: A Musical Autobiography"
"From the porch, she could see the broad Ohio River and she knew, even as a child in Kentucky, that it would lead her to faraway places, just around the bend. Two years ago, when she asked me to work with her on her autobiography, we stood on that riverbank watching the setting sun streak lavender and gold. As she talked about growoing up by the river, its lure and promise, it became clear that for her, the river is metaphor. A genuine metaphor, unforced--a river isn't still; a river is moving water. Rosemary Clooney's life courses through her music, and her music through her life, as naturally and inevitably as the Ohio River flows for more than two thousand miles--sometimes tranquil, sometimes turbulent.
These two discs are not simply an adjunct to Girl Singer, the story of her life, but a musical compass to that inctricate life, spanning more than half a centruy, from uncertainty to conviction to understanding. A tentative quality shades the first track, a rarity: Sooner or Later is Rosemary Clooney's first solo performance on record. She was seventeenin the spring of 1946; that's bandleader Tony Pastor vocalizing "ba-ba-ba." For a singer whose voice is so gloriously individual, so unmistakable and unique, it's unexpected to hear her sounding rather breath-y and stylized. "Perhaps the nearest thing to Ella Fitzgerald we've ever heard," Down Beat wrote, which Rosemary thought was a very good review, untill she realized that to sound like herself was even better.
"...Rosemary's decision to leave her sister and her uncle, to move ahead on her own, lends an inescapably plaintive touch to Bargain Day, her first official solo recording. Her heart was indeed "torn apart." That there would be a price to success was a chiche; now she knew there was a price to ambition."
"After Bing's first wife died, there was speculation about a Crosby-Clooney match. But she married Jose Ferrer, who wasn't content to be just a world-class, award-winning actor; he wanted to sing. When his voice coach told him bluntly, "It hurts my ears to hear you," Ferrer just laughed and kept on singing. Accustomed to excelling at anything he chose to do, he considered "can't" a four-letter word. Rosemary supported his musical learning; in their duet, You're Just in Love, he's so jaunty and assured that he adjusts an Irving Berlin phrase into "that groovy ache."
"When the first Ferrer baby arrived in early 1955, Betty Clooney was his godmother. She was too loyal to ever say that Rosemary had broken up their act; she always said that she herself had tired of the road, wanted to leave the band and go home. Now, in her autobiography, Rosemary rewrites that uncomfortable fiction. When she and I talked on the riverbank, we'd agreed that her book wouldn't be marshmallow fluff, with harsh times made soft. She told me she intended to follow the example of her friend Marlene Dietrich, who'd said to her own daughter, regarding her candid memoir, "I leave you the truth."
"Rosemary and Betty recorded together once more in 1954, with the captivating Sisters, from White Christmas. Rosemary always comforted herself with the thought that she and Betty would team up again someday. But someday never came. Girl Singer is dediated to Betty. "I think about my sister all the time," Rosemary told me quietly. "Every day of my life."
"By 1961, her marriage in shreds, Rosemary and Nelson were deeply in love. Except for the birth of her children, she says her time with Nelson was the happiest of her life. How Will I Remember You was recorded at the height of their feelings--tears ran down her face as she tried to focus on his conducting. They'd talked of marrying, but life had other plans for them. Still, she has those "thousand memories," and then some."
"...Mambo Italiano is her fond wink to Dante DiPaolo--"I love-a how you dance"....Dante and his Rosella stand by The Promise: "I trust tomorrow as much as today."
"...the Secret of Life.....To enjoy the passage of time; to be thankful, because it really is a "lovely ride," no matter what. When Rosemary and I wrapped up our work on the book, we stood again by the Ohio River.....she knows now that the faraway places the river suggests are not just around the bend, but faraway beyond imagining--some bright and beautiful places, some places dark and dangerous. But she can always follow the river safely home."
New York Sidewalk - Steve Futterman
It's been a long, and, periodically, strange trip for Rosemary Clooney, the "girl singer" who matured into the premier vocalist of classic American song. The love affairs, career shakeups, and mental breakdowns are detailed in Clooney's GIRL SINGER: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. For examples of Clooney's glorious vocal art, turn to GIRL SINGER: SONGS FROM AN AUTOBIORAPHY, a double-CD set that touches on high points from her six-decade career. Not a greatest-hits collection, GIRL SINGER acts more as a well- selected resume mixing Clooney gems ("Tenderly," "Blue Rose" from a collaboration with the Duke Ellington band, "How Will I Remember You"); chart successes ("Come-on-a My House," "Hey There,"); rare material ("Ya Got Class," a radio duet with Bob Hope; an unreleased "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep"); and duets with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, sister Betty Clooney, and her hilariously vocally impaired ex-husband, Jose Ferrer. On Disc Two, there are various stellar performances from the 1970s through the 90s, when Clooney took a more jazz-oriented route ("Route 66" with its spirited round of solos from Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache and Bucky Pizzarelli," "Do You Miss New York," "Love Is Here to Stay," "Fools Rush In"). The joy of GIRL SINGER is the privileged look we get at an artist maturing gracefully, suiting her vocal abilities to a song, taking in the full measure of a lyric. Clooney sounds lovely on the 1946 performance of "Sooner or Later" -- on the 1998 "Secret of Life" she sounds lovely and wise.