Like Young

André Previn, Paul Francis Webster
From the TV show Playboy Penthouse

If there’s a song on Now Playing! that stretches the theme of the album, it’s “Like Young.” While it is not a movie or TV theme, I was first exposed to it on Playboy’s Penthouse reruns airing on WFLD TV Chicago. Backed by a great rhythm section that included Herb Ellis on guitar, Ella Fitzgerald killed it.

Paul Francis Webster is perhaps the most prolific lyricist you’ve never heard of, and over the span of 40-some years penned hits like “I Got it Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” (1941), “Black Coffee” (1949), and “The Shadow of Your Smile” (1965), while at the other end of the spectrum producing “Spider-Man” (1967).

“Like Young” is a paean to the hipster lifestyle. A beatnik-like anomaly in 1959—pardon the pun—the term “like” is now standard fare among a youth culture raised on moral relativism, and is used as a consequence of undisciplined thinking or to soften declarative statements. I’ve sometimes wondered if “Like Young” inspired Dave Frishberg’s “I’m Hip,” released by Blossom Dearie some 10 years later.

For a vocalist, the challenge of tackling composer Andre Previn’s bluesy melody are a series of cadences comprised of five-note melismas. Buddy Greco had a hit with it in 1960, and did a fine job of vocally conveying the hipster motif, but whether by choice or necessity he avoided the melismas.