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A Song For You: Gregory Porter, “Be Good”

The first time I saw Gregory Porter was in 2010, at a sparsely attended show he put on at Drom. The sight of a young jazz vocalist in this day and age is about as common as seeing a unicorn, so even without hearing his debut, Water, which also came out in 2010 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal, I bought a ticket.

Overall, the show was impressive. Porter had not only the voice but the jazz IQ to make me an instant fan, but there was one song that hit me from the very first notes Porter sang and that song was “Be Good.” Months later, when I caught him live at The Blue Note, I prayed he perform the song again as it had not yet been recorded or released on record. Thankfully, he did.

“Be Good” is also the title of Porter’s new album, which came out this year on Valentine’s Day. Even after the countless listenings I still don’t know what the song is about. I’ve gathered that it speaks to the way some women have a hold on us, but I’d love to hear what interpretations you all my have about the song.

(When watching, try to focus on the song and not that peculiar tuxedo shirt Porter is wearing)

Also, for those interested, today I made my debut for one of my favorite sites, Click here to check out, “Quit Asking Me To Watch Your Computer.”

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  • SAR

    Love him. Saw him at the National Black Arts Festival here in ATL. Liked his singing, but when he sang this song…I became a fan. I think he’s saying that no matter what he does, she doesn’t see him as a man that could love her. The kind of man he is just isn’t a man that’s built to love…like maybe he’s a bad boy. She can’t see him differently. But her mere presence drives him crazy. She teases him. Not very different from what you said, I guess.

  • Yolly

    I hear unrequited love. A love that makes you want to look your best, be your best. A love that makes you want to be good.But a love that can never be. I don`t think it`s necessarily because he`s bad, I think she fears his power and his strength even though she`s drawn to him. She’s afraid of what he could do if given free reign, so she keeps him close and dances around his cage. I don’t think she’s trying to play with his feelings, she’s just not ready for him and that just makes him love her more.

    Can`t wait to see him at the Montreal Jazz Fest this summer. Beautiful song.

  • mrmuhammad

    He’s talking about how a woman he loves wont go all the way with him. She like to prod the lion just to hear him roar. But wont let him get too close because he just might bite. So he tries to change for her by cutting his claws and trimming his mane,  to no avail…. He stays locked in her cage. Maybe its the friend box, maybe its the no goodies box, either way hes hurt because he feels one way and shes in control.

  • Kat Webb

    There are more young jazz vocalists out there than you might think, but the issue is that their shows are, as you mentioned “sparsely attended”. But there are some true fans of jazz, like yourself, who make the effort to see new talent. 🙂

  • ListenToLeon

    iTunes featured a song of his a few months back called Real Good Hands. This guy’s voice is nice.

  • ListenToLeon

    Not sure if my last comment went through, but I discovered this guy’s music when iTunes featured his song “Real Good Hands.” He has a nice voice