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The Return of a Long-Lost Boogie

Anita O'Day, pictured here in 1970, had a voice as clear and sparkling as a glass of seltzer.
Gerald Israel/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Anita O'Day, pictured here in 1970, had a voice as clear and sparkling as a glass of seltzer.

"Boogie Blues" contains two minutes and one second of wonderful boogie-woogie, sung by a great jazz singer at a 1963 concert and never heard on record until now. Anita O'Day's Tokyo performance aired live on Japanese TV, then languished in the vaults.

"Boogie Blues," a signature O'Day number, kicks off the new, 15-song Anita O'Day: Live in Tokyo '63. The chugging horns of the All-Star Orchestra, a Japanese big band, set the percolating pace before she blithely jumps in, singing and swinging, her voice as clear and sparkling as a glass of seltzer.

O'Day, who died last fall, spins out a delightfully silly lyric about her bad boyfriend, whom she's not taking into the country because "there's nothing up there a man like you could do." Instead, she's traveling with her new love, who may fall short in certain departments — face like a fish, shape like a frog — but gets excellent marks in other departments. Her effortless, effervescent singing betrays no hint of the blues in the song title (or the blues that bedeviled O'Day, who battled heroin addiction and alcoholism). When "Boogie Blues" plays, toes will tap, heads will bob and, for those listening in the car, objects in the mirror will appear to sway in time to the music.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.