NPR Story
11:55 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Pfister Sisters Bring Fun To Old Jazz Standard

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 11:56 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And we are moving into fall, so we are leaving you today with one final summer song. For the last several weeks, Gwen Thompkins has been bringing us wonderful musical nuggets from guests on her program, Music Inside Out. That's heard on WWNO in New Orleans. They're current artists who're bringing back old classics. Today, Gwen joins us for a listen to the Pfister Sisters.

GWEN THOMPKINS, BYLINE: The Pfister Sisters are a girl group that's been around for 30 years, so I don't know if it really is fair to call them a girl group.

MARTIN: How about that, right? We need another term.

THOMPKINS: We do. But they are...

MARTIN: Grown girl group.

THOMPKINS: That's right. They're a grown girl group. And they are jazz vocalists, but jazz harmonizers. And in their songs there are always different rhythms and, you know, very clever kinds of twists and turns, you know. It's funny because today, when you turn on the radio, most songs, you know, are pretty much - they begin in the same rhythm that they end in. You know, there're very few movements to, like, a popular song. But back in the '20s and all, you know, you could start in 4/4 and end in 6/8 and - you know what I mean - and really feel like you're getting your money's worth, you know, out of 2-minute-40 song or something.

But with the Pfisters, they are doing for us "Everybody Loves My Baby," which is a great song. And so that song has really endured over the years, and it was written by this fella named Spencer Williams. Spencer Williams wrote some great standards, you know, along with Fats Waller, you know, "Squeeze Me." And he wrote "Basin Street Blues." He wrote "I Ain't Got Nobody," which was that Louis Prima hit. And my favorite song, which is "I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll."

MARTIN: Who would?

THOMPKINS: Well, that's what I'm thinking. So they make his song really fun.

MARTIN: All right, let's hear it. "Everybody Loves My Baby."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY")

MARTIN: Now if that doesn't put you in a better mood...

THOMPKINS: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...OK. You're just not paying attention.

THOMPKINS: I'm with you. They are fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY")

MARTIN: They are fun. They are fun. Are they like that in person?

THOMPKINS: Yeah. They're sassy and saucy and very, very funny.

MARTIN: Well, what do you think makes that song quintessentially American?

THOMPKINS: Well, because it really - you know, this is a song that has been in the American songbook for, you know, almost a hundred years now, and every generation finds a way to resuscitate it in some kind of way. You know, do you remember when Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson starred in that picture together and they - what was the name of it?

MARTIN: "Heartburn"?

THOMPKINS: Yes. Thank you. In "Heartburn," and she finds out she's going to have a baby and they decide they're going to start singing all the songs that they know that have the word baby in them. So they sing part of this song, you know. And that, you know - and so, you know what I mean, they're keeping the joy and fun and sass that's part of the American musical experience, you know, alive.

MARTIN: All right. Gwen Thompkins, thank you.

THOMPKINS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY")

MARTIN: That's the Pfister Sisters singing Spencer Williams' "Everybody Loves My Baby." You can hear their conversation with Gwen Thompkins, the host of Music Inside Out, at WWNO.org. And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin. And you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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