Listening To: “‘Tain’t What You Do” – Julie London (VIDEO)

Long before she donned a white cap and assumed the identity of stern nurse Dixie McCall on the the 1970s action/medical drama Emergency!, Julie London was an acclaimed singer who had been providing the soundtrack to moments of passion between lovers for decades.

Julie’s voice could be jet-set cool and smokey with songs like “Cry Me a River” and “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast,” or downright bossy as she is here with “‘Taint What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” written by Sy Oliver and James Young and first recorded in 1939 (Julie recored it in 1960).  In fact, London seemed to trade off between the sensual (prize pin-up girl during World War II) and the serious (no-nonsense Dixie McCall) for most of her career – a career that spanned over thirty years in film, music and television.

This song isn’t necessarily one that leaps to mind as a landmark London recording, but it stands out for me.   The drowsy piano intro, the matter-of-fact-horns, and the way Julie’s voice flirts with the saxophone right after the bridge (around the 1:30 mark).

Click on the Mp3 link below to hear the slinky Julie London in action… yeah, daddy, yeah!
taint_what_you_do.mp3

Julie was first married to Dragnet star Jack Webb, and later to her Emergency co-star Bobby Troup, whom she met when he was a jazz conductor at a club in Los Angeles. London and Troup married in 1959, and Webb was the one who cast them together on the series Emergency! on which he was an executive producer. Apparently, Julie’s voice had the ability to tame just about any situation, wouldn’t you say?

Below, you can enjoy husband and wife on a 1974 episode of the CBS morning daytime game show Tattletales with Bert Convy.

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