A modest tribute to Eydie Gormé (1928-2013)

It always saddens me to learn that an artist I enjoy and admire passed away, and the death of Eydie Gormé last weekend was no exception. She was a wonderful vocalist – a true embodiment of American pop music during the 1950s and 1960s. With her passing a little bit of history has been lost.

When I think of Gormé, I inevitably think of Steve Lawrence, her husband of fifty-five years and singing partner for even longer than that. The pair, known simply as Steve and Eydie, specialized in fun “old-married couple” style banter like in this clip from a 1970 episode of the Hollywood Palace.

Their biggest hit was the romantic, albeit slightly sappy “I Want to Stay Here,” released in 1963.

And “This Could be the Start of Something” was a staple of their stage shows. It no doubt reminded fans of their ties to Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. Allen composed the tune, and Steve and Eydie were regular guests.  

But I like their less well known cover of “Make Yourself Comfortable” released in 1955, two years before they married. Now, I have to confess, I know this tune because it became a big hit for Sarah Vaughan in 1954. While Vaughan’s cover was by far the most popular, both renditions bring something different to the table.

Vaughan’s cover was all about novelty. Listeners are bathed in a gloss of echoes and overdubbing as Vaughan sings of rushing home from a date to get comfortable for a night of romance. It’s smooth and ephemeral, an excellent showcase for Vaughan’s magnificent voice. And perhaps more importantly, “Make Yourself Comfortable” took Vaughan’s pop career to the next level.

In contrast, Steve and Eydie’s cover is lower tech, relying instead upon the chemistry between the two singers. They tell a simple story of fledgling love. It’s a little schmaltzy (especially to our twenty-first century ears), but enormously appealing, in part because Steve and Eydie are paired so well vocally. Both voices are clear and smooth, and they both sing with such warmth and genuine affection.

It feels sincere and very real. Eydie will be truly missed.