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Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Magic

By Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn

The lovely Doris Day introduced this tune, written for her to perform in her debut motion picture, Romance on the High Seas. Ms. Day was one of five people to subsequently record the song the following year, and her version was the most successful, rising to #2 on the Billboard charts.


You sigh, the song begins,
You speak and I hear violins.
It's magic.

The stars desert the skies,
And rush to nestle in your eyes.
It's magic.

Without a golden wand or mystic charms.
Fantastic things begin when I am in your arms.

When we walk hand-in-hand,
The world becomes a wonderland.
It's magic.

How else can I explain
Those rainbows when there isn't rain?
It's magic.

Why do I tell me myself
These things that happen are all really true,
When in my heart I know
The magic is my love for you?

Recorded By:

Jerry Vale
Tony Martin
Dick Haymes
Sarah Vaughan
Keeley Smith

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sheik of Araby

By Ted Snyder, Harry B. Smith & Francis Wheeler

A huge hit composed as a humorous response to the immensely popular Rudolph Valentino, The Sheik, this song became a bona fide piece of American pop culture during the Roaring '20s. It was even referenced in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. It was introduced by the Club Royal Orchestra, and jazz bands also took an instant liking to it, which some have credited to the Louisiana town of Arabi, which became the source of an in-joke amongs jazz musicians.


I'm the Sheik of Araby,
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you're asleep,
Into your tent I'll creep.

And the stars that shine above,
Will light our way to love.
You'll roam this land with me,
I'm the Sheik of Araby.

Oh, I'm the Sheik of Araby,
And all the women worship me.
You should see them follow me around. Not bad.
Even wives of all the other sheiks,
They beg to kiss my rosy cheeks.
And that ain't bad -- in fact, that's good, I've found. I'm a cad!

When I lay down to sleep,
I'm counting girls instead of sheep.
From my harem I can't scare 'em out. Why should I?
They're beauties from all races,
And some have pretty faces.
I'm the Sheik who knows what love is all about.

Recorded By:

Django Reinhardt
Art Tatum
Leon Redbone
The Beatles (on their failed Decca Records demo)
Louis Prima

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Blue Heaven

By Walter Donaldson & George Whiting

A huge hit for crooner Gene Austin, who introduced it in 1928 and enjoyed 13 weeks at the top of the charts with it. The recording, in fact, went platinum five times over! And 30 years later, R&B sensation Fats Domino would reintroduce the tune to the rock 'n' roll generation. Domino's version is so closely identified with the song today that many don't even realize it predates him significantly.


When whippoorwills call, and evenin' is nigh,
I hurry to my blue heaven.
Turn to the right, there's a little bright light,
Will lead you to my blue heaven.

You'll see a smilin' face, a fireplace, a cozy room,
A little nest that nestles where the roses bloom.

Just Molly and me, and the baby makes three.
We're happy in my blue heaven.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Leon Redbone
The Smashing Pumpkins (below)
Al Jolson
The Ink Spots

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All of Me

By Gerald Marks & Seymour Simons

Haven't been able to post much lately, so to make up for it today, I'm bouncing back with a biggie--one of the most recorded standards of all time, in fact. Billie Holiday's iconic version is probably the most well-known, although it was originally recorded by Belle Baker. Usually performed in a swing tempo, the classic tune has endured the ages, being revived in the 1950s by Johnnie Ray, and even getting a punk treatment by NOFX.


All of me--
Why not take all of me?
Can't you see
I'm no good without you?

Take my lips,
I wanna lose them.
Take these arms,
I'll never use them.

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry.
How can I
Go on, dear, without you?

You took the part
That once was my heart,
So why not
Take all of me?

Recorded By:

Louis Armstrong
Paul Whiteman
Frank Sinatra
Django Reinhardt
Willy Nelson

Monday, April 20, 2009

Begin the Beguine

By Cole Porter

A drastic departure from the traditional 32-bar pop song, this 108-bar tune was introduced by June Knight in the Porter musical Jubilee. It's complexity is such that even the composer himself--who wrote the song on the piano at the Ritz Bar in Paris--claimed never to be able to perform it without the sheet music in front of him. Three years after Jubilee, Artie Shaw's had a major hit with it, and it became something of a theme song for the band.


When they begin the beguine,
It brings back the sound of music so tender.
It brings back a night of tropical splendor.
It brings back a memory evergreen.

I'm with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra's playing.
Even the palms seem to be swaying,
When they begin the beguine.

To live it again is past all endeavor,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.

What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds come along to disperse the joys we had tasted.
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean.

So don't let them begin the beguine,
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember,
When they begin the beguine.

Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play,
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more, Darling, I love you!
And we suddenly know what heaven we're in,
When they begin the beguine.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Sheryl Crow
Julio Iglesias
Django Reinhardt

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Should Care

By Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston & Sammy Cahn

Written for the glossy, sentimental World War II movie Thrill of a Romance, this song, written primarily by longtime Sinatra arranger Stordahl (pictured) plays lyrically off a popular slang expression--most likely courtesy of Cahn. It was introduced in the movie by Bob Allen and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, and charted four times in the top 20 by four different artists in its first year alone.


I should care,
I should go around weeping.
I should care,
I should go without sleeping.

Strangely enough, I sleep well,
'Cept for a dream or two.
But then I count my sheep well,
Funny how sheep can lull you to sleep.

So I should care,
I should let it upset me.
I should care,
But it just doesn't get me.

Maybe I won't find someone as lovely as you.
But I should care,
And I do.

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Frank Sinatra
Bing Crosby
Jane Monheit
Amy Winehouse (below)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

You're My Thrill

By Jay Gorney & Sidney Clare

Gorney (pictured) wrote this tune just one year after his most famous piece, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", which became an anthem of the Great Depression. A collaboration with "Good Ship Lollipop" lyricist Clare, "You're My Thrill" was introduced by trombonist Ward Silloway. It can most recently by heard on Diana Krall's newest album, Quiet Nights, released earlier this month.


Youre my thrill,
You do something to me.
You send chills right through me
When I look at you,
'Cause you're my thrill.

Youre my thrill--
How my pulse increases,
I just go to pieces
When I look at you,
'Cause you're my thrill.

Nothing seems to matter--
Here's my heart on a silver platter!

Where's my will?
Why this strange desire
That keeps morning higher?
When I look at you,
I can't keep still.
You're my thrill.

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Lena Horne
Peggy Lee
Ella Fitzgerald
Joni Mitchell

Friday, April 10, 2009

Take the "A" Train

By Billy Strayhorn & Joya Sherrill

Inspired by Duke Ellington's directions to new writer Strayhorn upon his hire, this seminal jazz classic became the theme song of the Ellington band, replacing "Sepia Panorama", after is was first recorded in February 1941. Duke's son Mercer recalled rescuing the composition out of the trash, after Strayhorn had discarded it for being too similar to an arrangement by Fletcher Henderson, whose style had inspired the song. 17-year-old Sherrill contributed the lyrics in 1944, after herfather brought her to Ellington's attention. She promptly became a singer with the band as well.


You must take the "A" train
To go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem.

If you miss the "A" train,
You'll find you've missed the quickest way to Harlem.

Hurry, get on, now, it's coming.
Listen to those rails a-thrumming.

Get on the "A" train--
Soon, you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem.

Recorded By:

Dave Brubeck
Mel Torme
Sarah Vaughan
Dexter Gordon
Oscar Peterson

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh, Lady Be Good!

By George & Ira Gershwin

An early Gershwin number from their highly successful Broadway production Lady Be Good (starring Fred & Adele Astaire), this infectious gem was first sung by Walter Catlett. A young Ella Fitzgerald made a huge hit in 1947 with a swinging scat rendition that became one of her most identifiable recordings. The song has been associated with her ever since.


Listen to my tale of woe,
It's terribly sad, but true.
All dressed up, no place to go,
Each ev'ning I'm awfully blue.
I know I'm a winsome miss.
I must win some handsome guy,
Can't go on like this.
I could blossom out I know,
With somebody just like you. So...

Oh, sweet and lovely lady, be good.
Oh, lady, be good to me.
I am so awf'ly misunderstood,
So lady, be good to me.

Oh, please have some pity.
I'm all alone in this big city.

I tell you I'm just a lonesome babe in the wood,
So, lady be good to me.

Recorded By:

Mel Torme
Django Reinhardt
Count Basie
Dizzy Gillespie
Benny Goodman

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What'll I Do?

By Irving Berlin

Another big '20s hit for the great Irving Berlin, introduced by Grace Moore and John Steel in his Music Box Revue show. Due to its strong connection to the era, Nelson Riddle incorporated the tune into his Oscar-winning score for the 1974 Robert Redford adaptation of The Great Gatsby.


Gone is the romance, that was so divine.
It's broken and cannot be mended.
You must go your way, and I must go mine,
But now that our love dreams have ended...

What'll I do
When you are far away,
And I am blue--
What'll I do?

What'll I do
When I am wondering who
Is kissing you--
What'll I do?

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to?

When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That can't come true,
What'll I do?

Recorded By:

Maude Maggart
Nancy Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Chris Botti and Paula Cole
Chet Baker

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Nearness of You

By Hoagy Carmichael & Ned Washington

Can it possibly be that this is the first Hoagy Carmichael song covered on Standard of the Day? Apparently so! Carmichael's quiet, sweet ode to love was introduced with a hit record by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, with Ray Eberle on vocals. Several years ago, Norah Jones brought new attention to it by including a recording on her acclaimed debut album Come Away With Me.


It's not the pale moon that excites me,
That thrills and delights me.
Oh no,
It's just the nearness of you.

It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation.
Oh no,
It's just the nearness of you.

When you're in my arms, and I feel you so close to me,
All my wildest dreams come true.

I need no soft lights to enchant me,
If you would only grant me the right
To hold you ever so tight,
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Frank Sinatra
Diana Krall
Keith Richards
Les Brown

Monday, April 6, 2009

Looking at the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses

By Jimmy Steiger & Tommy Malle

The epitome of the carefree Roaring '20s, this irresistible little tune was introduced by Jack Osterman in the theatre revue A Night in Paris. It would be popularized soon after thanks to a hit recording by Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians. Definitely an attractive mantra for these trying times!


Lookin' at the world through rose-colored glasses,
Everything is rosy now.
Lookin' at the world, and everything that passes
Seems a rosy hue somehow.

Why do I feel so spry? Don't blink your eye.
Needn't guess, I'll confess.
Certain someone just said 'yes'.

In a bungalow all covered with roses,
I will settle down, I vow.
That's why I'm lookin' at the world through rose-colored glasses,
Everything is rosy now.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra & Count Basie
Arthur Fields
Nick Lucas (below--priceless)
Richard Manning Band
Danny Kaye

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

By Fred E. Ahlert & Joe Young

Fats Waller introduced this mirthful-yet-sad ode to self-pity with a big hit record in 1935. It became instantly popular, with a Boswell Sister recording following hard upon. The song also enjoyed a revival in the late 1950s, including a rock 'n' roll update by Bill Haley & His Comets.


I'm gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter,
And make believe it came from you.
I'm gonna write words oh, so sweet.
They're gonna knock me off of my feet.
A lot of kisses on the bottom,
I'll be glad I got 'em.

I'm gonna smile and say,
"I hope you're feeling better,"
And close with love, the way that you do.
I'm gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter,
And make believe it came from you.

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Frank Sinatra & Count Basie
Scatman Crothers
Dean Martin
Bing Crosby

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poor Butterfly

By Raymond Hubbell & John Golden

A popular standard of the late Gilded Age, the tune was composed by Hubbell & Golden as a pop take on the immensely popular Puccini opera Madame Butterfly, which had premiered in the U.S. a decade earlier. In fact, the verse even contains a fragment from the opera's second act. It was originally written for the New York Hippodrome musical revue The Big Show, in which it was introduced by Sophie Bernard.


There's a story told of a little Japanese,
Sitting demurely 'neath the cherry blossom trees.
Miss Butterfly's her name.
A sweet little innocent child was she,
'Till a fine young American from the sea
To her garden came.
They met 'neath the cherry blossoms everyday,
And he taught her how to love the American way.
To love with her soul t'was easy to learn.
Then he sailed away with a promise to return.

Poor Butterfly,
'Neath the blossoms waiting.
Poor Butterfly,
For she loved him so.
The moments pass into hours.
The hours pass into years.
And as she smiles through her tears,
She murmurs low:

"The moon and I
Know that he'll be faithful.
I'm sure he'll come
To me by and by.
But if he won't come back,
Then I'll never sigh or cry,
I just must die."

Poor Butterfly.

Recorded By:

Sarah Vaughan
Benny Goodman
Frank Sinatra
Deanna Durbin
Red Nichols & His Five Pennies

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stormy Weather

By Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler

One of the giants of American popular song, it was written for Ethel Waters to perform at the Cotton Club. However, it would go on to be most closely associated with Lena Horne, after she recorded it (for the first of five times) in 1941. The blues-tinged standard is a flawless expression of disappointment and longing.


Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky.
Stormy weather--
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps rainin' all the time.

Life is bare, gloom and mis'ry everywhere.
Stormy weather--
Just can't get my poor self together,
I'm weary all the time.
So weary all the time.

When he went away, the blues walked in and met me.
If he stays away, old rockin' chair will get me.
All I do is pray the Lord above will let me
Walk in the sun once more.

Cant go on, ev'ry thing I had is gone.
Stormy weather--
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps rainin' all the time.

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Etta James
Frank Sinatra
Judy Garland
Django Reinhardt

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