Why is Sarah Vaughan’s After Hours on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Transportive as though to be whisked back to a very specific scene and mood and vibe in 1955.
What does Sarah Vaughan’s After Hours mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
One of the great joys of embarking on this massive best 1,000 albums ever project is discovering new things that I love about music, but then there’s also a deeper level where I figure out more about the reasons why I’m drawn to certain kinds of music, and certain kinds of artists.
We all know that there are peak eras for certain kinds of music, the explosion of energy, angst, and creativity that came when punk truly burst onto the scene on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid- to late 1970s, for example.
There are certain pockets of time tied to specific kinds of music that I’m particularly drawn to, I’ve come to learn over time. That mix of rock, pop, surf, garage, and psychedelic influences that laced through music circa 1964-1967, for example. Early 1990s underground hip hop and mid-‘90s ska punk are other examples.
In thinking about Sarah Vaughan’s After Hours, released in 1955, I started thinking about jazz artists who were either close to or at their absolute peak of creative output circa the mid-1950s: Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holliday, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane. There’s a sound there, collectively, a vibe, that I find deeply appealing.
And in hearing Vaughan’s phenomenal voice and the jazz arrangements on After Hours, it puts me of the mindset to be at a music venue after midnight in 1955, cocktail at my side, to take in this singular artist live. Listen to “My Reverie” and tell me if you don’t feel differently.
“Black Coffee” is transportive in a different way, almost as though I’m whisked away into the middle of an Alfred Hitchcock movie of all things, with its oboe and bouncy, almost beguiling rhythm.
“Summertime” makes me want to be outside at night in the summer, in the Brooklyn or Manhattan of 1955.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Sarah Vaughan’s After Hours
My family subscribed to HBO during most of my childhood, and if I didn’t login my proverbial 10,000 hours of TV watching on that one channel, I must have gotten pretty close.
My parents didn’t really monitor my television watching, which I give them great credit for. Occasionally, I would see something that I wasn’t quite old enough or prepared for though. I loved slasher flicks and horror movies as a kid, for example, and tore through pulpy semi-comedic fare like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and all the Friday the Thirteenths I could get a hold of.
I clearly recall tuning into a 1987 movie called The Believers, which genuinely freaked me out. It’s not even a particularly good movie, but I recall that it stars Martin Sheen and Jimmy Smitts, that it was about voodoo and the occult, and that it freaked me the [redacted] out.
At another point in my pop culture-drenched childhood, I watched a movie called After Hours. It stars Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette, and was directed by Martin Scorsese. Of those three people, I might have been familiar with just Arquette due to her role in Desperately Seeking Susan, a fellow 1985 movie that I watched constantly on cable.
It’s possible that this was the first Scorsese film that I ever saw, though it’s possible that I caught The King of Comedy or The Color of Money, the latter of which was a big deal more as a Paul Newman/Tom Cruise pool hustler flick versus what are clearly now known as “Martin Scorsese films.”
Anyway, I mention all of this because After Hours didn’t scare me as The Believers had, but it left me feeling bummed out in a way I couldn’t have really articulated at the time. It’s a “night where everything goes wrong” kind of movie – and, interestingly, to this day these kinds of stories tend to not be to my taste – and the mature themes flew way over my head.
I’ve only watched After Hours the one time and have long meant to revisit it to see how my feelings about it as an adult match my emotional reaction as a kid, if at all.
Re-watching the trailer now, it looks pretty great, I have to say, strange and funny and dark. Just my kind of flick, really. The supporting cast is also incredible, and includes Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara and both Cheech and Chong!
Some stats & info about Sarah Vaughan – After Hours
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Jazz, Bop, Vocal Jazz
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – not rated!
- When was After Hours released? 1955
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #753 out of 1,000
Sarah Vaughan’s After Hours on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.