Recently though, MoreThings correspondent, Elvis fan, and jazz singer Valerie Tachecek wrote me an interesting rebuttal:
As a female jazz singer and a die-hard Elvis fan for 24 years, let me tell you the reason why I think the "Jones Sings Costello" proposal won't work.
Elvis' vocal range is three octaves. That is really remarkable for a singer of any style. Norah Jones' range is probably not much better than an octave, maybe an octave and a half. She has, at best, one half of his range.
His best songs are extremely rangy, i.e., "God Give Me Strength," "Kid About It," too many to list.
I have tried countless times over the years to incorporate some of his songs into my repertoire. So far I haven't come up with one song that I feel comfortable singing, or that I think works with my range. I have a two-octave range, a little more than Ms. Jones, but it still isn't enough to handle the vocal acrobatics required to do these tunes.
Aside from the range, they are just really hard tunes to sing! I suspect that is why we haven't seen ANY albums like "So-and-So Sings Elvis Costello" in all of these years. There is something about the way that he writes his tunes that truly only seem to work for his own voice. I'm sure this is completely unintentional on his part.
So, that is my theory, for all it is worth. I'd like to point out that even though he is best known and loved for his songwriting skills, the voice on this man is truly incredible. His range, his breath control, his power, the beauty ... he is really a remarkable vocalist.
Then again, maybe I'm such an Elvis "purist" that hearing anyone else do his tunes will never sound right to me. I had hoped when he and his wife, Ms. Krall, started collaborating that some great "female friendly" Elvis tunes would emerge, but it hasn't happened yet. But, I'll keep my fingers crossed and wait.
Miss Tachecek makes an interesting point. I hadn't thought about it that way, but "God Give Me Strength" in particular jumps out to me now as requiring some fairly fancy singing to put it across. It'd be a bit like singing "The Star Spangled Banner".