Hoping to make a record with the great Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks, I turned to the vast American Songbook—an extraordinary repertoire of decades past—and found some great standards and rarities to consider. This fall, we will release a collection of songs chosen from this golden trove: I’d Rather Lead a Band. Here are the records that inspired our choices—some we took on and some we just admired from afar.

Loudon Wainwright III is a musician and songwriter living in New York City