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“Do Nothing till You Hear From Me”

January 27, 2017

I’ve added song number ninety-eight to my repertoire!

“Do Nothing till You Hear from Me” is a song with music by Duke Ellington and lyrics by Bob Russell. It began life as a 1940 instrumental (“Concerto for Cootie”) that was designed to highlight the virtuoso playing of Ellington’s lead trumpeter, Cootie Williams, with Russell adding words three years later.

Composer, arranger and pianist Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington

Over the years it’s been recorded by artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Phil Collins, Ella Fitzgerald,and Robert Palmer.

In a career that lasted over fifty years Duke Ellington wrote over a thousand works. He, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, helped to raise the popular perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other musical forms. Such was his influence he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999.

Lyricist Bob Russell

Bob Russell

Although you’ve probably never heard of him (and I admit that I hadn’t until I began researching this post) Bob Russell was also highly regarded in his field. In 1970 (the year of his death) he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2004 he was posthumously awarded the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) lifetime achievement award in the pop category.

As well as “Do Nothing” he wrote the words for “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” in 1969 (with music by Bobby Scott). I would never, in a million years, have connected the two songs. I love it when my work throws up obscure little connections like that!

The enduring popularity of “Do Nothing” is testament to the skill and craft of the two men who created it over seventy years ago. I’m delighted to have finally added it to my repertoire!

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