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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

By Frank Loesser
1947

Loesser composed this holiday standard as a stand-alone song, before his highly lucrative career as a Broadway composer began in earnest with Where's Charly in 1948. Margaret Whiting was the first to record, and it has remained one of the most endurant of all holiday standards, still recorded regularly to this day. Turn on the TV tonight, and you're likely to hear it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, from SOTD!

Lyrics:
 
When the bells all ring and the horns all blow,
And the couples we know are fondly kissing,
Will I be with you, or will I be among the missing?

Maybe it's much too early in the game,
But I thought I'd ask you just the same:
What are you doing New Year's,
New Year's Eve?

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night.
Welcoming in the New Year,
New Year's Eve.

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received.

But in case I stand one little chance,
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year's,
New Year's Eve?

Recorded By:

Johnny Mathis
Diana Krall
Harry Connick Jr.
Rufus Wainright

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard 1938-2008

The world of jazz has lost one of its most celebrated trumpeters, with the passing of the great Freddie Hubbard last night due to complications from a heart attack suffered in November.

Hubbard represented the next evolution of jazz trumpeting after bop innovators like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. He played in bands with the likes of Quincy Jones, Art Blakey, Slide Hampton and Max Roach in the 1950s and '60s, before starting up some bands of his own in the 1970s and '80s. Non-jazz fans can even here is distinctive sound on Billy Joel's "Zanzibar" off the 1978 album 52nd Street.

An infection in his lips had curtailed his career in the early 1990s, but Hubbard was ironically on the rebound, finally returning to performing and recording last summer, mere months before the heart attack that claimed his life.

Rest in peace.

I Cover the Waterfront

By Johnny Green & Edward Heyman
1933

Journalist Max Miller's 1932 book I Cover the Waterfront was an instant hit, filled as it was with Miller's captivating reminiscences of the San Diego waterfront from his days on the San Diego Sun. The book proved so popular that just a year later, it had inspired both a pop song and a movie, made independently of each other (although Reliance Pictures had the foresight to include the tune in its Claudette Colbert vehicle). A heap of artists recorded it that first year, with the initial hit belonging to Joe Haymes' orchestra.

Lyrics:

Away from the city that hurts and knocks,
I'm standing alone by the desolate docks.
In the still and the chill of the night
I see the horizon, the great unknown.
My heart has an ache,
Its as heavy as stone.
With the dawn coming on, make it last.

I cover the waterfront.
I'm watching the sea.
Will the one I love
Be coming back to me?

I cover the waterfront,
In search of my love.
And I'm covered
By a starlit sky above.

Here am I,
Patiently waiting.
Hoping and longing--
Oh, how I yearn.
Where are you?
Are you forgetting?
Will you remember?
Will you return?

Will the one I love
Be coming back to me?

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Eddy Duchin
Sam Cooke
Louis Armstrong
Lester Young, Nat Cole & Buddy Rich

Monday, December 29, 2008

Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

By Sam H. Stept, Sidney Clare & Bee Palmer
1930

Popular 1910s and '20s singer Palmer is credited as a co-composer, and it was she who introduced the song. Kate Smith was the one who initially popularized it, but it's most well-known rendition may be the one by Michigan J. Frog in Chuck Jones' classic "One Froggy Evening" cartoon. I'd also like to point that I cleverly used it as my answering machine music at one time.

Lyrics:

Please don't talk about me when I'm gone,
Oh honey, though our friendship ceases from now on.
And if you can't say anything real nice,
It's better not to talk at all, is my advice.

We're parting, you'll go your way, I'll go mine,
It's best that we do.
Give a little kiss and hope that it brings
Lots of love to you.

Makes no difference how I carry on,
Please don't talk about me when I'm gone.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Leon Redbone
The Mills Brothers
Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

By Jerome Kern & Otto Harbach
1933

Along with "Yesterdays", this is one of two major standards to emerge from the 1933 operetta Roberta, in which it was introduced by Tamara Drasin. Irene Dunne performed it in the 1935 film adaptation, and the first commercial recording came from the Paul Whiteman orchestra. Although The Platters' 1958 doo-wop version hit the top of the charts, it is typically derided by purists for lacking the emotional depth and nuance such a piece requires. Those same purists hail the song for its melodic simplicity, built on an ascending and descending scale.

Lyrics:

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true.
I, of course, replied,
"Something here inside
Cannot be denied."

They said someday you'll find
All who love are blind.
When your heart's on fire,
You don't realize
Smoke gets in your eyes.

So I chaffed, and I gaily laughed
To think they would doubt my love.
Yet today, my love has flown away.
I am without my love.

Now, laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide.
So, I smile and say,
"When a lovely flame dies,
Smoke gets in your eyes."

Recorded By:

Johnny Mathis
Dinah Washington
Margaret Whiting
Tommy Dorsey
Louis Armstrong

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt 1927-2008

Standard of the Day bids a fond farewell to the lovely and talented Ms. Eartha Mae Kitt. Although best known for her role as Catwoman on the 1960s Batman TV series, Eartha was a gifted singer and dancer as well, and is one of the only performers to ever have been nominated for the Tony, Grammy and Emmy.

Nightclub audiences have long been treated to her sultry voice as she performed her own unique renditions of signature songs like Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and her holiday-themed hit "Santa Baby", a standard later covered by the likes of Madonna and Macy Gray.

Singing at The Village Vanguard in the early 1950s, she was discovered by Broadway producers, who helped launch her career with a role in New Faces of 1952. Orson Welles, who cast her as Helen of Troy in his production Dr. Faustus, was prompted to describe her as "the most exciting woman in the world."

Despite a strong stance against the Vietnam War that damaged her career in the late 1960s, Ms. Kitt remained a fixture on the club circuit around the world. In recent years, she continued to wow Broadway audiences, and celebrated her eightieth birthday last year with a concert at Carnegie Hall.

Earth Kitt leaves behind a daughter, four grandchildren, and a stirring musical legacy.

Just in Time

By Jule Styne, Betty Comden & Adolph Green
1956

One of Styne's (pictured) most well-known compositions, it was introduced by Judy Holliday and Sydney Chaplin in the musical Bells Are Ringing. Tony Bennett had a major hit with it the same year, and that version remains the breezy, upbeat song's definitive recording.

Lyrics:

Just in time,
You've found me just in time.
Before you came my time
Was running low.

I was lost.
The losing dice were tossed.
My bridges all were crossed,
Nowhere to go.

Now you're here,
And now I know just where I'm going.
No more doubt or fear--
I've found my way.

For love came just in time.
You found me just in time,
And changed my lonely life that lovely day.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Nina Simone
Barbra Streisand
Dean Martin
Rosemary Clooney

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Song

By Mel Torme & Bob Wells
1944

Composed in the middle of a sweltering summer, the most recorded Christmas song of all time started out as a list of wintery things compiled by Wells in a whimsical attempt to "think cool". Once his vocalist friend Torme spotted the list and added music and a few extra lyrics to it, a holiday standard was born. It was first introduced by Nat King Cole with his trio in 1946, and Cole would later make it one of his signature tunes, recording it a total of four times. Torme himself would eventually record it three times.

Lyrics:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way.
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so, I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two:
Although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you.

Recorded By:

Diana Krall
Frank Sinatra
Andy Williama
Johnny Mathis
Bing Crosby



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Until the Real Thing Comes Along

By Mann Holiner, Alberta Nichols, Saul Chaplin, L.E. Freeman & Sammy Cahn
1936

Strangely, this song was initially published in two versions which were identical, only one listed different three composers, while the other listed five. Today, ASCAP credits all five. The song was introduced by bandleader Andy Kirk (pictured). Kirk actually made two different 1936 recordings of the tune, one in March and one in April, using two different vocalists--Ben Thigpen and Pha Terrell.

Lyrics:

I'd work for you,
I'd slave for you,
I'd be a beggar or a knave for you.
If that isn't love, it will have to do,
Until the real thing comes along.

I'd gladly move
The earth for you
To prove my love, dear,
And it's worth for you.
If that isn't love, it'll have to do,
Until the real thing comes along.

With all the words, dear, at my command,
I just can't make you understand.
I'll always love you, darling,
Come what may.
My heart is yours
What more can I say?

I'd lie for you,
I'd sigh for you,
I'd tear the stars down
From the sky for you.
If that isn't love, it will have to do,
Until the real thing comes along.

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Fats Waller
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Dexter Gordon

Monday, December 22, 2008

Darn That Dream

By Jimmy Van Heusen & Eddie DeLange
1939


One of the most disastrous Broadway flops of the era was Swingin' the Dream, a jazzy send-up of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream that ran for a total of 13 performances--despite featuring the likes of Louis Armstrong (pictured), Maxine Sullivan, Bill Bailey, Dorothy Dandridge, Vivian Dandridge and Etta Jones. All of these performers took turns with this song--the show's sole hit--during the initial production. It didn't become a hit until Benny Goodman recorded it in 1940 with singer Mildred Bailey.

Lyrics:

Darn that dream I dream each night.
You say you love me and hold me tight,
But when I awake and you're out of sight,
Oh, darn that dream.

Darn your lips and darn your eyes,
They lift me high above the moonlit sky,
Then I tumble out of paradise--
Oh, darn that dream.

Darn that one-track mind of mine,
It can't understand that you don't care.
Just to change the mood I'm in,
I'd welcome a nice old nightmare.

Darn that dream, and bless it, too.
Without that dream I'd never have you.
But it haunts me, and it won't come true,
Oh, darn that dream.

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Tommy Dorsey
Doris Day
Miles Davis
Thelonious Monk

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet Lorraine

By Cliff Burwell & Mitchell Parish
1928

Legend has it this song played a direct part in turning Nat Cole from a pianist to a singer, and earning him his famous nickname. A lover of the tune since he was a boy, when Cole--then strictly a piano player--was asked by a spectator to sing, he performed it, to everyone's amazement. Thus, a "King" was born. The song had originally been introduced a decade earlier by Rudy Vallee, but Cole would up scoring a much bigger hit with it.

Lyrics:

Just found joy,
I'm as happy as a baby boy
With another brand new choo-choo toy,
When I'm with my sweet Lorraine.

She's got a pair of eyes
That are brighter than the summer skies.
When you see them, you'll realize
Why I love my sweet Lorraine.

When it's raining, I don't miss the sun,
Because it's in my baby's smile.
And to think that I'm the lucky one
That will lead her down the aisle!

Each night I pray
That no one will steal her heart away.
I can't wait until that lucky day,
When I marry sweet Lorraine.

Recorded By:

Stephane Grappelli
Teddy Wilson
Marvin Gaye
Jimmie Noone
Frank Sinatra

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Belong to Me

By Chilton Price, Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart
1952

For the record, it was Price, a rare solo female songwriter, who wrote this tune for the most part. She gave King & Stewart equal credit in exchange for their promotional work. And successful work it was, as the song was recorded by a multitude of artists in its first year alone. It began life as a country song by Sue Thompson, but it was Jo Stafford's version that became the standard. It would later become adopted by the world of rock n' roll, as epitomized by the Gene Vincent rendition.

Lyrics:

See the pyramids along the Nile,
Watch the sunrise from a tropic isle,
Just remember, darling, all the while,
You belong to me.

See the marketplace in old Algiers,
Send me photographs and souvenirs,
Just remember, when a dream appears,
You belong to me.

I'd be so alone without you,
Maybe you'd be lonesome too,
And blue.

Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when it's wet with rain,
Just remember, till you're home again,
You belong to me.

Recorded By:

Dean Martin
Patsy Cline
The Duprees
Bob Dylan
Tori Amos

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dream Dancing

By Cole Porter
1941

Still on the Fred Astaire kick today. This one was written by Porter for Astaire's movie You'll Never Get Rich. Ironically, it was introduced in the film as an instrumental; still Astaire was the first to subsequently record it with lyrics, accompanied by the Delta Rhythm Boys.

Lyrics:

When day is gone and night comes on,
Until the dawn what do I do?
I clasp your hand and wander through slumber land,
Dream dancing with you.

We dance between a sky serene
And fields of green sparkling with dew.
It's joy sublime whenever I spend my time
Dream dancing with you.

Dream dancing,
Oh, what a lucky windfall,
Touching you, clutching you,
All the night through.

So say you love me, dear,
And let me make my career
Dream dancing, dream dancing with you.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Mel Torme & George Shearing
Tony Bennett
Stacey Kent
Ray Anthony

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They Can't Take That Away from Me

By George & Ira Gershwin
1937

For my 100th post here at SOTD, I'm spotlighting one of the most famous, and rightly beloved standards of all time. It's a song for which George Gershwin was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award. He and his brother had composed it for the Astaire-Rogers film Shall We Dance, but George passed away mere months after the movie's release. A poignant mixture of quiet sadness and confident joy, it perfectly expresses the feelings of two lovers parting--in a subtle and sublime manner that is rare to find, indeed.

Lyrics:

Our romance won't end on a sorrowful note,
Though by tomorrow, you're gone.
The song is ended, but as the songwriter wrote,
The melody lingers on.
They may take you from me--
I'll miss your fond caress,
But, though they take you from me,
I'll still possess...

The way you wear your hat,
The way you sip your tea,
The memory of all that--
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

The way your smile just beams,
The way you sing off-key,
The way you haunt my dreams--
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

We may never, never meet again
On the bumpy road to love,
Still, I'll always, always keep the memory of...

The way you hold your knife,
The way we dance till three,
The way you changed my life--
No, no, they can't take that away from me,
No--they can't take that away from me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday
Charlie Parker
Anita O'Day

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Wish I Were in Love Again

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1937

Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland would make a hit with it in the 1948 movie Words and Music, but Rodgers & Hart had written the tune for Grace McDonald and Rolly Pickert in the original Broadway production of Babes in Arms--the same show that produced "The Lady Is a Tramp", "Where or When?" and "My Funny Valentine". It's worth noting that the song has come under attack over the years for being misogynistic in its glorified portrayal of a woman who seemingly enjoys being abused by men.

Lyrics:

You don't know that I felt good
When we up and parted.
You don't know I knocked on wood,
Gladly broken-hearted.
Worrying is trought,
I sleep all night,
Appetite and health restored.
You don't know how much I'm bored!

The sleepless nights,
The daily fights,
The qick toboggan when you reach the heights--
I miss the kisses, and I miss the bites.
I wish I were in love again!

The broken dates,
The endless waits,
The lovely loving and the hateful hates,
The conversations with the flying plates--
I wish I were in love again!

No more pain,
No more strain.
Now I'm sane but ...
I would rather be ga-ga!

The pulled-out fur
Of cat and cur,
The fine mismating of a him and her--
I've learned my lesson, but I wish I were
In love again!

The furtive sighs,
The blackened eyes,
The words "I'll love you till the day I die",
The self-deception the believes the lie--
I wish I were in love again!

When love congeals,
It soon reveals
The faint aroma of performing seals,
The double-crossong of a pair of heels--
I wish I were in love again!

No more care,
No despair.
I'm all there now,
But I'd rather be punch-drunk!

Belive me sir,
I much prefer
The classic battle of a him and her.
I don't like quiet and
I wish I were in love again!

Recorded By:

Julie Andrews
Ella Fitzgerald
Joni Mitchell
Frank Sinatra
Judy Garland

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Once Upon a Time

By Charles Strouse & Lee Adams
1962

This late standard originated in the Broadway show All American, about a fictional university. Strouse & Adams were coming off their previous smash hit Bye, Bye Birdie, and enlisted a little-known TV writer named Mel Brooks to pen the libretto for their new production. Ray Bolger & Eileen Herlie would introduce this song in the original production.

Lyrics:

Once upon a time,
A girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine
And said she loved me so.
But that was once upon a time,
Very long ago.

Once upon a time,
We sat beneath a willow tree,
Counting all the stars
And waiting for the dawn.
But that was once upon a time,
Now the tree is gone.

How the breeze ruffled up her hair,
How we always laughed as though tomorrow wasn't there.
We were young and didn't have a care,
Where did it go?

Once upon a time,
The world was sweeter than we knew.
Everything was ours,
How happy we were then.
But somehow once upon a time
Never comes again.

Recorded By:

Tony Bennett
Bobby Darrin
Jack Jones
Al Martino
Vic Damone

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

By Manning Sherwin, Jack Strachey & Eric Maschwitz
1940

This popular British standard refers to a tree-filled park in the upscale Mayfair section of London. It became a very popular tune in the UK after being introduced by Judy Campbell in the show New Faces, and subsequently recorded by Ray Noble and Vera Lynn.

Lyrics:

That certain night,
The night we met,
There was magic abroad in the air.
There were angels dining at the Ritz,
And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I'm perfectly willing to swear
That when you turned and smiled at me,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

The moon that lingered over Londontown,
Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown.
How could he know that we two were so in love?
The whole darn world seemed upside down.

The streets of town were paved with stars,
It was such a romantic affair.
And as we kissed and said goodnight,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

When dawn came stealing up, all gold and blue,
To interrupt our rendezvous,
I still remember how you smiled and said,
"Was that a dream? Or was it true?"

Our homeward step was just as light
As the tap dancing feet of Astaire,
And like an echo far away,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Bobby Darrin
Mel Torme
Blossom Dearie
Frank Sinatra

Friday, December 5, 2008

They Say It's Wonderful

By Irving Berlin
1946

One of Berlin's most enduring musicals, Annie Get Your Gun featured this charming duet--sung in the original production by Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton. It was most recently put under the spotlight once again when Kirsten Dunst sang it quite impressively (with her own voice) in last year's Spider-Man 3.

Lyrics:

They say that falling in love is wonderful.
It's wonderful,
So they say.

And with a moon up above it's wonderful.
It's wonderful,
So they tell me.

I can't recall who said it,
I know I never read it,
I only know that falling in love is grand.

And the thing that's known as romance
Is wonderful, wonderful
In every way,
So they say.

Rumors fly and they often leave without,
But you've come to the right place to find out.
Ev'rything that you've heard is really so.
I've been there once or twice, and I should know.

You'll find that falling in love is wonderful,
It's wonderful,
As they say.

And with a moon up above, it's wonderful.
It's wonderful,
As they tell you.

You'll leave your house a-morning,
And without any warning,
You're stopping people, shouting that love is grand.

And to hold a man in your arms
Is wonderful, wonderful
In every way,
So they say.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Bernadette Peters
Perry Como
Johnny Mathis

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Ideal

By Richard Whiting, Newell Chase & Leo Robin
1930

A classic example of the kind of sweet love songs that populated early Hollywood musicals, this one was sung by Maurice Chevalier to Frances Dee in the rare Paramount film The Playboy of Paris. Universal bought the picture from Paramount as part of a major deal in 1958, yet never released it on video, and it is currently in the public domain. Whiting, on of the composers, was the father of vocalist Margaret Whiting.

Lyrics:

Long ago, my heart and mind
Got together and designed
The wonderful girl for me--
Oh, what a fantasy!

Thought the ideal of my heart
Can't be ordered a la carte.
I wonder if she will be
Always a fantasy?

Will I ever find the girl in my mind,
The one who is my ideal?
Maybe she's a dream, and yet she might be
Just around the corner waiting for me.

Will I recognize the light in her eyes
That no other eyes reveal?
Or will I pass her by, and never even know
That she was my ideal?

Recorded By:

Chet Baker
Wynton Marsalis
Art Tatum
John Coltrane
Dinah Washington

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dedicated to You

By Saul Chaplin, Hy Zaret & Sammy Cahn
1936

Composer Chaplin (pictured) and lyricist Cahn had previously met while members of the same orchestra, and this tune was in fact one of Chaplin's first efforts as an official member of ASCAP. It was introduced by Andy Kirk & His Twelve Clouds of Joy, but a young Ella Fitzgerald would get the big hit some months later. Chaplin was also responsible for songs like "Until the Real Thing Comes Along", "If Its the Last Thing I Do" and "Please Be Kind". He later gained acclaim in Hollywood as a producer/arranger for musicals like An American in Paris, High Society and West Side Story.

Lyrics:

If I should write a book for you,
That brought me fame and fortune, too,
That book would be, like my heart and me--
Dedicated to you.

And, if I should paint a picture, too,
That showed the loveliness of you,
My art would be, like my heart and me--
Dedicated to you.

To you,
Because your love is the beacon that lights up my way.
To you,
Because with you I know one lifetime could be just one heavenly place.

If I should find a twinkling star
One half so wondrous as you are,
That star would be, like my heart and me--
Dedicated to you.

Recorded By:

John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
Freddie Hubbard
Carmen McRae
Sarah Vaughan
Sammy Davis Jr.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Second Time Around

By Jimmy Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn
1960

One of Blake Edwards' early comedies, High Time starred Bing Crosby as an older man going back to college, and featured this Oscar-nominated tune. Although it didn't win ("Never on a Sunday" from the Greek film of the same name took home that honor), the song of middle-aged love--as introduced by Crosby in the film--became an instant favorite, and one of the most successful standards of the late "songbook period". An example of a time when not all songs were written for teenagers.

Lyrics:

Love is lovelier,
The second time around.
Just as wonderful,
With both feet on the ground.

It's that second time you hear your love song sung
Makes you think, perhaps, that love, like youth,
Is wasted on the young.

Love's more comfortable
The second time you fall.
Like a friendly home,
The second time you call.

Who can say what brought us to this miracle we've found?
There are those who'd bet
Love comes but once--and yet,
I'm oh so glad we met
The second time around.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Nancy Wilson
Michael Bolton & Nicolette Sheridan (?!)
Mel Torme

Sunday, November 30, 2008

GIve Me the Simple Life

By Harry Ruby & Rube Bloom
1945

Ruby (pictured) and Bloom collaborated on this song for the movie musical Wake Up and Dream, starring June Haver and John Payne. Ruby was also the composer of such standards as "Who's Sorry Now?", "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" and "I Wanna Be Loved By You." He was a close friend of Groucho Marx, and wrote many of the classic songs from the Marx Brothers films.

Lyrics:

I don't believe in frettin' and grievin';

Why mess around with strife?

I never was cut out to step and strut out.

Give me the simple life.

Some find it pleasant dining on pheasant.
Those things roll off my knife;
Just serve me tomatoes; and mashed potatoes;
Give me the simple life.

A cottage small is all I'm after,
Not one that's spacious and wide.
A house that rings with joy and laughter
And the ones you love inside.

Some like the high road, I like the low road,
Free from the care and strife.
Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeed-y;
Give me the simple life.

Recorded By:

Julie London
Tony Bennett
June Christy
Rosemary Clooney
Stan Getz

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nevertheless

By Harry Ruby & Bert Kalmar
1931

Upon its composition, this song was immediately snatched up by the two most popular vocalists of the day, Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby. It became a big hit for either of them, and the song has been part of the standard canon ever since. The Mills Brothers would also have a top 10 hit with it in 1950.

Lyrics:

I knew the time had to come
When I'd be held under your thumb.
I'm like a pawn in your hand,
Moved and compelled, at your command.
Whether it's for bad or for good,
I would never change it if I could.

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong,
Maybe I'm weak, maybe I'm strong,
But nevertheless I'm in love with you.

Maybe I'll win, maybe I'll lose,
And maybe I'm in for cryin' the blues,
But nevertheless I'm in love with you.

Somehow, I know at a glance, the terrible chances I'm taking.
Fine at the start, then left with a heart that is breaking.

Maybe I'll live a life of regret,
And maybe I'll give much more than I get,
But nevertheless, I'm in love with you.

In spite of all I could do,
I went ahead falling for you.
So if I laugh or I cry,
I made my bed, that's where I'll lie.
For what happens, there's no excuse,
I put my own head in the noose.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Harry Nilsson
The Andrews Sisters
Kay Starr
Patti Page

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

But Not For Me

By George & Ira Gershwin
1930

A poignant example of the Gershwin brothers' way with a heartbreaking ballad, this song was written for Ginger Rogers to perform in the original stage production of Girl Crazy--in which she also introduced the Gershwin standard "Embraceable You". A popular tune, it has since been featured in such films as Manhattan, When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Lyrics:

They're writing songs of love,
But not for me.
A lucky star's above,
But not for me.

With love to lead the way,
I've found more clouds of gray
Than any Russian play could guarantee.

I was a fool to fall
And get that way;
Heigh-ho! alas!
And also, lack-a-day!

Although I cant dismiss
The memory of his kiss,
I guess he's mot for me.

Hes knocking on a door,
But not for me.
He'll plan a two by four,
But not for me.

I know that love's a game;
I'm puzzled, just the same,
Was I the moth or flame?
I'm all at sea.

It all began so well,
But what an end!
This is the time a feller
Needs a friend.

When every happy plot
Ends with the marriage knot,
And there's no knot for me.

Recorded By:

Chet Baker
Dinah Washington
Judy Garland
John Coltrane
Ella Fitzgerald

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heat Wave

By Irving Berlin
1933

A popular Depression-era standard from Berlin, originating from his Broadway revue As Thousands Cheer, which also gave us "Easter Parade". Ethel Waters had the honor of introducing it, and Ethel Merman later brought it to the movies in 1938's Alexander's Ragtime Band. But Marilyn Monroe's torrid 1954 performance in There's No Business Like Show Business might be the most memorable.

Lyrics:

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave.
The temperature's rising,
It isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can.

She started a heat wave
By letting her seat wave
In such a way that
The customers say that
She certainly can can-can.

Gee, her anatomy
Makes the mercury
Jump to ninety-three.

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave.
The way that she moves
That thermometer proves
That she certainly can can-can.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Linda Ronstadt
Bing Crosby
Art Tatum
Eddie Lang

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To

By Cole Porter
1943

This Porter gem was written for the Columbia musical Something to Shout About, in which it was introduced by Don Ameche and Janet Blair (pictured). The first to record it was Dinah Shore, who made a big hit out of it, and it has since become one of Cole Porter's most beloved ballads. A perfect expression of romantic longing.

Lyrics:

It's not that you're fairer
Than a lot of girls just as pleasin'
That I doff my hat
As a worshiper at your shrine.
It's not that you're rarer
Than asparagus out of season--
No, my darling, this is the reason
Why you've got to be mine...

You'd be so nice to come to.
You'd be so nice by the fire.
While the breeze on high sang a lullaby,
You'd be all that I could desire.

Under stars chilled by the winter,
Under an August moon burning above,
You'd be so nice,
You'd be paradise, to come home to and love.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Coleman Hawkins
Mel Torme
Jo Stafford

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stella By Starlight

By Victor Young & Ned Washington
1944

A rare example of a hit love song that was actually written for a horror movie, this song was the theme for the classic ghost story, The Uninvited. Washington's lyrics (which are never sung in the movie) are unique in that because he had trouble fitting the title into the melody, he had to arbitrarily place it in the middle of the refrain, making this a rare example of a standard in which the title is not mentioned in the opening or closing line. Young and his orchestra introduced the song in the film, but Harry James' orchestra was the first to release it on record three years later.

For more on The Uninvited, check out my other blog, The Vault of Horror.

Lyrics:

The song a robin sings,
Through years of endless springs;
The murmur of a brook at eventides;
That ripples through a nook where two lovers hide--

That great symphonic theme,
That's Stella by starlight,
And not a dream.
My heart and I agree,
She's everything on Earth to me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ray Charles
Charlie Parker
Stan Getz
Stan Kenton

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sentimental Journey

By Les Brown, Ben Homer & Bud Green
1944

A big hit toward the end of World War II, this song was first recorded by Brown's orchestra with Doris Day on lead vocal. It soon became Day's first number-one hit, and lasted a total of 23 weeks on the charts. The mellow number has long been a favorite of jazz musicians.

Lyrics:

Gonna take a sentimental journey,
Gonna set my heart at ease.
Gonna make a sentimental journey,
To renew old memories.

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, "All aboard!"

Seven...that's the time we leave, at seven.
I'll be waitin' up at heaven,
Countin' every mile of railroad track
That takes me back.

Never thought my heart could be so yearny.
Why did I decide to roam?
Gotta take that sentimental journey,
Sentimental journey home.

Recorded By:

Woody Herman
Frank Sinatra
Rosemary Clooney
Esquivel
Julie London

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wait Till You See Her

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart 1942

Introduced by Ray Bolger, this was the one hit song from Rodgers & Hart's final hit Broadway musical, By Jupiter. The show was the composing duo's longest running, and the last of an impressive string in the late 1930s and early 1940s. This song was cut early on from the original production, but resurfaced in the 1967 revival.
Lyrics:

Wait till you see her,
See how she looks,
Wait till you hear her laugh.

Painters of paintings,
Writers of books,
Never could tell the half.

Wait till you feel
The warmth of her glance,
Pensive and sweet and wise.

All of it lovely,
All of it thrilling,
I'll never be willing to free her.

When you see her,
You won't believe your eyes,
You won't believe your eyes.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Nancy Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Ray Charles
Blossom Dearie

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Don't You Do Right?

By Kansas Joe McCoy
1941

Although originally written as "The Weed Smoker's Dream" in 1936, McCoy refined the melody and rewrote the lyrics five years later. As a result, it was made a hit by blues singer Lil Green, with Big Bill Broonzy on guitar. It quickly became a definitive "woman's blues" number, thanks in part to a recording a year later by Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee that made Lee a star. It returned to prominence in 1988 thanks to a rendition by animated character Jessica Rabbit in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Although Kathleen Turner voiced the character, it was another actress, Amy Irving, who provided vocals on the song.

Lyrics:

You had plenty money, 1922.
You let other women make a fool of you .
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too.

You're sittin' there and wonderin' what it's all about.
You ain't got no money, they will put you out.
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too.

If you had prepared twenty years ago,
You wouldn't be a-wanderin' from door to door
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too.

I fell for your jivin' and I took you in,
Now all you got to offer me's a drink of gin.
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass
Sinead O'Connor
Shirley Horn
Kay Kyser
Julie London

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

By David Mann & Bob Hilliard
1955

Frank Sinatra chose this as the title song of his first--and best--full-length LP for Capitol Records, introducing it to the world with one of his very finest recordings. A brilliant reading that begs repeated listening and demonstrates why Sinatra was the greatest vocal interpreter of popular song, his version has colored every other that has come after.

Lyrics:

In the wee small hours of the morning,
While the whole wide world is fast asleep,
You lie awake and think about the girl,
And never, ever think of counting sheep.

When your lonely heart has learned its lesson,
You;d be hers, if only she would call.
In the wee small hours of the morning,
That's the time you miss her most of all.

Recorded By:

Johnny Hartman
Carly Simon
Julie London
Stacey Kent
Tierney Sutton

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We'll Meet Again

By Ross Parker & Hughie Charles
1939

In honor of Veteran's Day, I give you this classic anthem of World War II, introduced as an immensely popular UK hit by Vera Lynn. The moving lyric by Charles takes both an optimistic and melancholy stance, understood by those who hoped to see their loved ones again as they parted due to the war, yet understood that the meeting place might also be heaven. This is a sentiment known all too well today by those serving overseas in Iraq, and by those who love them. Lynn's recording was prominently featured as the closing theme of Dr. Strangelove, and more recently in Hellboy.

Here's to the veterans. Thank you all.

Lyrics:

Let's say goodbye with a smile, dear,
Just for a while, dear, we must part.
Don't let the parting upset you,
I'll not forget you, sweetheart.

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day.

Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
'Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

So will you please say hello to the folks that I know,
Tell them I won't be long.
They'll be happy to know that as you saw me go,
I was singing this song.

After the rain comes the rainbow,
You'll see the rain go, never fear.
We two can wait for tomorrow,
Goodbye to sorrow, my dear.

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day.

Recorded By:

Johnny Cash
The Byrds
Frank Sinatra
Peggy Lee
The Ink Spots

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sway

By Pablo Beltran Ruiz & Norman Gimbel
1954

The mambo craze hit very big in the early 1950s, and this song was a direct product of it. Originally written by Mexican bandleader Ruiz in 1953, it had English lyrics added a year later by Gimbel--who would do the same for a number of Antonio Carlos Jobim tunes a decade later. The incomparable Dean Martin introduced the English version, transforming it instantly into the epitome of cool, with every artist who has attempted it since trying to equal his performance.

Lyrics:

When marimba rhythms start to play,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lover Man

By Jimmy Davis, Roger Ramirez & James Sherman
1941

While serving in the Army, Davis wrote the song specifically for Billie Holiday, and brought it straight to her when he was home on leave. Unfortunately, he was shipped back to Europe with the outbreak of World War II, and didn't live to see Lady Day make it one of her classic recordings three years later. Holiday adored the haunting, deeply bluesy ballad, and was adamant about recording it will a full string section, which Columbia Records agreed to after some prodding.

Lyrics:

I don't know why, but I'm feeling so sad.
I long to try something I never had.
Never had no kissin',
Oh, what I've been missin'.
Lover man, oh, where can you be?

The night is cold, and I'm so alone.
I'd give my soul just to call you my own.
Got a moon above me,
But no one to love me.
Lover man, oh, where can you be?

I've heard it said
That the thrill of romance
Can be like a heavenly dream.
I go to bed with a prayer
That you'll make love to me,
Strange as it seems.

Someday we'll meet, and you'll dry all my tears,
Then whisper sweet little things in my ear.
Hugging and a-kissing,
Oh, what I've been missing.
Lover man, oh, where can you be?

Recorded By:

Sonny Rollins
Ella Fitzgerald
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie & Sarah Vaughan
Dinah Washington

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Serenade in Blue

By Harry Warren & Mack Gordon
1942


Written for the 20th Century Fox film Orchestra Wives--in which it was introduced by the dubbed voice of Pat Friday via leading lady Lynn Bari--this song nevertheless achieved immortality when it was recorded shortly after by Glenn Miller's orchestra, with Ray Eberle and The Modernaires on vocals. It became one of Miller's signature numbers, second only to his theme song, "Moonlight Serenade".

Lyrics:

When I hear that serenade in blue,
I'm somewhere in another world, alone with you,
Sharing all the joys we used to know,
Many moons ago.

Once again your face comes back to me,
Just like the theme of some forgotten melody
In the album of my memory,
Serenade in blue.

It seems like only yesterday,
The small cafe, a crowded floor,
And as we danced the night away,
I hear you say forevermore.
And then the song became a sigh,
Forever more became goodbye,
But you remained in my heart.

So tell me darling, is there still a spark?
Or only lonely ashes of the flame we knew?
Should I go on whistling in the dark?
Serenade in blue.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Doris Day
Dick Haymes
Stan Getz
Charles Mingus

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Someday My Prince Will Come

By Larry Morey & Frank Churchill
1937

A classic example of the ability of the Disney studio to create timeless standards, once upon a time. First sung in Disney's original animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, it took another 20 years for it to become a bona fide standard when it was rediscovered by Dave Brubeck.

Lyrics:

Some day my prince will come,
Some day we'll meet again,
And away to his castle we'll go,
To be happy forever, I know.

Some day when spring is here,
We'll find our love anew,
And the birds will sing,
And wedding bells will ring,
Some day when my dreams come true.

Recorded By:

Miles Davis
Barbra Streisand
Sinead O'Connor
Oscar Peterson
Herbie Hancock

Monday, November 3, 2008

Meditation

By Antonio Carlos Jobim & Norman Gimbel
1962

Certainly not part of the Great American Songbook, but a classic pop standard nonetheless, as were most of the lush tunes composed by Jobim. A breezily tempoed example of his bossa nova style, it was first written as "Meditação", with original Portuguese lyrics by Newton Mendonça. Here are Gimbel's beautifully introspective English words...

Lyrics:

In my loneliness,
When you're gone and I'm all by myself,
And I need your caress,
I just think of you,
And the thought of you holding me near
Makes my loneliness soon disappear.

Though you're far away,
I have only to close my eyes
And you are back to stay.
I just close my eyes,
And the sadness that missing you brings
Soon is gone, and this heart of mine sings.

Yes, I love you so,
And that for me is all I need to know.
I will wait for you,
Till the sun falls from out of the sky,
For what else can I do?

I will wait for you,
Meditating how sweet life will be
When you come back to me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Blossom Dearie
Doris Day
Tito Puente
Vic Damone

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Hear Music

By Burton Lane & Frank Loesser
1940

This catchy tune was one of a number of Burton's compositions for Dancing on a Dime, a rare musical from Paramount Pictures. It was sung in the picture by Robert Paige, Peter Lind Hayes, Eddie Quillan and Frank Jenks. To my knowledge, the film has never been released on video, and probably hasn't been seen since it used to run on TV in the late 1950s and 1960s. Nevertheless, the popular standard has survived.

Lyrics:

I hear music;
Mighty fine music--
The murmur of a morning breeze up there,
The rattle of the milkman on the stair.

Sure thats music;
Mighty fine music--
The singing of a sparrow in the sky,
The perking of the coffee right nearby.

Thats my favorite melody--
You my angel, phoning me.

I hear music;
Mighty fine music--
And anytime I think my world is wrong,
I get me out of bed and sing this song.

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald
Chris Connor
Blossom Dearie
Bobby McFerrin

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's De-Lovely

By Cole Porter
1936

One of Porter's signature songs, its title was used for the title of the 2004 film of his life starring Kevin Kline. It was composed for the famous musical Red, Hot & Blue, and later adapted for the 1960s revival of Anything Goes. Chrysler kept the song in the popular vernacular by using it to advertise its line of DeSoto automobiles.

Lyrics:

I feel a sudden urge to sing
The kind of ditty that invokes the spring.
So control your desire to curse,
While I crucify the verse.
This verse I started seems to me
The Tin-Pantithesis of a melody,
So to spare you all the pain,
I'll skip the darn thing and sing the refrain...

The night is young, the skies are clear,
So if you want to go walking, dear,
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely.

I understand the reason why
You're sentimental, 'cause so am I,
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely.

You can tell at a glance
What a swell night this is for romance,
You can hear dear Mother Nature
Murmuring low,
"Let yourself go!"

So please be sweet, my chickadee,
And when I kiss you, just say to me,
"It's delightful, it's delicious,
It's delectable, it's delirious,
It's dilemma, it's delimit, it's deluxe,
It's de-lovely."

Recorded By:

Eddie Duchin
Ella Fitzgerald
Johnny Mathis
Sarah Vaughan
Dinah Shore

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Remember You

By Victor Schertzinger & Johnny Mercer
1941

Proof that even the most beautiful song can be horrifying under the right circumstances, Slim Whitman's country-style recording of this standard was used to great effect in Rob Zombie's film House of 1,000 Corpses. It was originally written for quite a different movie--1942's The Fleet's In, in which it was introduced by Cass Daley. It can also be heard in Star Trek III, and Uncle Junior even quoted a bit of it on a Sopranos episode.

Lyrics:

Was it in Tahiti?
Were we on the Nile?
Long, long ago,
Say an hour or so
I recall that I saw your smile.

I remember you,
You're the one who made
My dreams come true
A few kisses ago.

I remember you,
You're the one who said
"I love you, too," I do.
Didn't you know?

I remember, too,
A distant bell,
And stars that fell like rain
Out of the blue.

When my life is through,
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of them all,
Then I shall tell them
I remember you.

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Frank Ifield
Diana Krall
Chet Baker
Bjork

Friday, October 24, 2008

Temptation

By Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed
1933

Written for Bing Crosby to sing in his motion picture Going Hollywood, this song would actually get its most famous recording courtesy of Perry Como 12 years later. Como recorded it four different times over the course of his career. The exotic-sounding tune also made an appearance in Singin' in the Rain, almost 20 years after it was published.

Lyrics:

You came,
I was alone,
I should have known,
You were temptation!

You smiled,
Luring me on,
My heart was gone,
And you were temptation!

It would be thrilling if you were willing,
And if it can never be, pity me,
For you were born to be kissed.
I cant resist, you are temptation,
And I am yours!

Here is my heart!
Take it and say that we'll never part!
I'm just a slave, only a slave,
To you!

Temptation,
I'm your slave!

Recorded By:

Artie Shaw
The Everly Brothers
Charlie Parker
Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Are Too Beautiful

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1933

This fittingly beautiful tune was written by Rodgers & Hart for the obscure early talkie Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, in which it was sung by the film's star, the great Al Jolson. The picture was an infamous flop for Jolson, and led to his three-picture deal with United Artists being cut short at only one. Nevertheless, the depression-era musical has a great deal of odd charm for those who love pre-code '30s cinema, with this song being a big part of it.

Lyrics:

Like all fools, I believed
What I wanted to believe.
My foolish heart conceived
What foolish hearts conceive.
I thought I found a miracle,
I thought that you'd adore me,
But it was not a miracle,
It was merely a mirage before me.


You are too beautiful, my dear, to be true,
And I'm too drunk with beauty.
Drunk with a feeling that
The arms that possess you
Really caress you, too.
You are too beautiful for one man alone,
One lucky fool to be with,
When there are other men
With eyes of their owm to see with.

Love cannot stand sharing,
Not if one cares.
You won't be comparing
My ev'ry kiss with theirs.

You know I care and
I'll be faithful to you,
And through a sense of duty.
You are too beautiful,
And I am too drunk with beauty.

["I am too drunk with beauty" later changed to the tamer "I am a fool for beauty"]

Recorded By:

Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane
Frank Sinatra
Oscar Peterson
Sonny Rollins
Thelonious Monk

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