This was written in 1921 by Herbert “Happy” Lawson and was a country hit for others including Patsy Cline, but today’s song is a 2001 performance by Leon Redbone. It’s an absolutely fabulous piece of singing and a guaranteed four minutes and two seconds worth of smiles.
Very little is known about this artist, including whether “Leon Redbone” is his real name, or where he actually comes from; theories include Cyprus and Philadelphia. His entire professional career has been out of Toronto, and not that far out either; having survived an airplane crash, he travels only on vehicles with wheels. He plays music of bygone days; this 1921 composition is toward the later end of his repertoire. His band is “authentic” in the sense that no amplifiers are involved and the bass line is usually provided by a tuba.
I went to a concert once and it was a jewel, masterfully conceived and executed end-to-end; beautiful sequencing and singing, astonishing musicianship, and a pretty hilarious line of patter between the songs. He retired in 2015 which is sad, because he brought something special to the stage.
Now, Any Time is a pretty enough song, but the attraction here is Redbone’s twisty velvet voice, which he wraps around and around and around it, full of grace, and somehow combining humor with unironic romance. Stick around past the fluffy acoustic guitar break and in the closing verse and chorus, he really turns the vocals up to 11; I doubt you’ve ever heard anything like it. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify. Now, there’s lots of video out there but check out this, from 1973; ignore the opening schtick and there’s some remarkable music. Also, here’s a promo for an upcoming Redbone documentary, which I enjoyed and maybe you will too.