For the week of 2/14/2013…

“Lazy Day” by Santo & Johnny

Santo and Johnny Farina were a couple of Italian kids from Brooklyn who managed to create some of the most spellbinding night music of all time in the late ’50s and early ’60s with their guitar instrumentals.  Santo, the older brother, was encouraged by his father to take steel guitar lessons as a teenager, and began composing on the instrument at the age of 14.  Johnny began accompanying his brother on rhythm guitar, and in 1959, when Santo was 22 and Johnny was 18, they were signed by a newly established record label called Canadian-American Records.  They quickly became the label’s flagship artists when their first single, “Sleep Walk,” became a major pop hit late that summer, topping the charts in September of that year.  “Sleep Walk” set the template for the duo’s signature style:  Santo’s achingly beautiful, very lyrical steel guitar providing the melody, Johnny’s gentle rhythm guitar filling out the sound.  After follow-up single “Tear Drop,” the brothers’ popularity receded somewhat, although they continued to write and record beautiful music (and in 1964 their instrumental cover of the old doo-wop song “In the Still of the Night” was a hit).

One of their lesser-known tunes which this week has really captured my imagination is an original composition called “Lazy Day.”  Based around a gorgeous call-and-response between the lower and higher registers of the steel guitar, this track for me evokes an idyllic, moonlit 1950s romance strongly enough to bring a tear to my eye.