This round, regardless of who you choose, the same person, Belgian guitarist/harmonicist/whistler Toots Thielemans, is going to win. Toots’ best-known song is "Bluesette," which he first recorded in 1961. Norman Gimbel wrote lyrics for it shortly thereafter, and it’s been recorded many times by different singers. Toots has recorded it both on the harmonica and the guitar (with whistling accompaniment). What I’d like to know is, which do you like better?


From the 2009 Night of the Proms.


From 1989.

There are your choices. Here are your instructions…

  1. Listen to the two songs.
  2. Decide which song you like the best.
  3. Vote for your favorite by leaving me a comment with your choice. If you feel like telling us why, feel free.
  4. Then, visit the other participants and vote in their Battles:

I’ll tally the votes and publish the results next Wednesday, September 8, so be sure and cast your vote by then.

The lines are now open!

17 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Bluesette”

  1. Harmonica for me. My dad was a master at whistling. It is a rare talent, but this harp version far outweighs the guitar and whistling version in my opinion.

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  2. JOHN ~

    This was a really good idea for a BOTB installment.

    I believe I first became aware of Toots via his harmonica playing on the Pat Metheny tune ‘ALWAYS AND FOREVER’ from his ‘Secret Story’ album, which I love.

    Then later I realized that it was also Toots playing the great harmonica parts in the Rick Derringer song ‘IT’S RAINING’, which I adore.

    I really enjoyed BOTH recordings quite a bit. But like Lee said, I felt that the whistling got a bit old toward the end, so I’ll go with that fantastic harp work on the first recording.

    ~ D-FensDogG

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  3. I will vote for the whistling because I am always amazed at how controlled and difficult it is to do this. The harmonica actually got on my nerves a bit. I choose the second Toots.

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  4. Even though visually he looks like he’s chomping on an ear of corn, I vote for the harmonica. What a name, by the way – Toots Thielelmans! Wouldn’t you rather have a name like Toots Thielemans than plain old John Holton?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely prefer the version with harmonica. The whistling version was good, but started to wear thin with me.


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