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Friday, May 29, 2009

Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry

By Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn
1945

A melodic, romantic favorite by Styne & Cahn, it was introduced at the end of World War II by the Harry James orchestra, and later became a favorite of adult pop singers in the 1950s and beyond. Of particular note is Frank Sinatra's breathtaking rendition on his landmark 1958 album Only the Lonely.

Lyrics:

The torch I carry is handsome.
It's worth its heartache in ransom.
Now when that twilight steals,
I know how the lady in the harbor feels.

When I want rain, I get sunny weather.
I'm just as blue, blue as the sky.
Since love has gone, I can't get myself together.
Guess I'll hang my tears out to dry.

My friends ask me out, but I tell them I'm busy.
I've got to get a new alibi.
I hang around at home, and ask myself: "Where is she?"
Guess I'll hang my tears out to dry.

Dry little tear drops, my little tear drops,
Moving on a stream of dreams.
My little memories, those precious memories
Remind me of our crazy schemes.

Then somebody says, just forget about her.
But I gave that treatment a try.
Strangely enough, I got along without her,
Then one day she passed me right by - oh well,
I guess I'll hang my tears out to dry.

Recorded By:

Dexter Gordon
Sarah Vaughan
Jack Jones
Ray Charles
Mel Torme

In the Still of the Night

By Cole Porter
1937

A landmark Porter tune, evocative, poignant, and an excellent representation of his incomparable work. It was original written for the motion picture Rosalie, in which it was sung by none other than Nelson Eddy. Tommy Dorsey made a #3 hit with it that fall, with the first commercial recording of the song. Since then, it has become one of the most often recorded Porter songs.

Lyrics:

In the still of the night,
As I gaze out of my window
At the moon in it's flight,
My thoughts all stray to you.

In the moon's yellow light,
While the world is in slumber,
Ah, the times without number,
Darling, when I say to you:

"Do you love me, as I love you?
Are you my life to be,
My dream come true?
Or will this dream of mine
Fade out of sight?
While the moon's growing dim
On the rim of the hill,
In the chill, still of the night.

Recorded By:

Sammy Davis Jr.
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Della Reese
Carly Simon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby

By Harry Warren & Johnny Mercer
1938

Sung by Dick Powell in the movie Hard to Get, in which it first appeared, the song actually became huge thanks to its first studio recording, by Bing Crosby. Although recorded many, many times over the years, it's Bing's version that remains the most instantly identifiable. Cartoon fans will also recognize the tune as a popular one incorporated often by composer Carl Stallings into Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes.

Lyrics:

Does your mother realize
The stork delivered quite a prize
The day he left you on the family tree?
Does your dad appreciate
That you're merely supergreat,
The miracle of any century?
If they don't just send them both to me.

You must have been a beautiful baby,
You must have been a wonderful child.
When you were only starting to go to kindergarten,
I bet you drove the little boys wild.

And when it came to winning blue ribbons,
You must have shown the other kids how.
I can see the judges' eyes as they handed you the prize,
You must have made the cutest bow.

You must've been a beautiful baby,
'Cause baby, look at you now.

Recorded By:

Russ Morgan
Tommy Dorsey
Bobby Darrin
Perry Como
Vic Damone

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You'd Be So Easy to Love

By Cole Porter
1936

Porter composed this, one of his most beautiful melodies/lyrics, for the musical film Born to Dance, in which it was sung by Eleanor Powell, James Stewart and Frances Langford. It would later be included in the 1987 revival of Porter's Anything Goes. Josephine Baker recorded a French version in 1937 called "C'est si facile de vous aimer".

Lyrics:

You'd be so easy to love.
Easy to idolize all others above.
So worth the yearning for,
So swell to keep the home fire burning for.

We'd be so grand at the game,
So carefree together, that it does seem a shame
That you can't see your future with me,
'Cause you'd be so easy to love.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Billie Holiday
Carmen McRae
Vic Damone
Ella Fitzgerald

Friday, May 22, 2009

But Beautiful

By Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke
1947

This ballad was written for the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope vehicle Road to Rio, and quickly became a favorite of jazz singers, who changed its structure a bit from its original composition. Nancy Wilson used it as the title song for one of her albums.

Lyrics:

Love is funny, or it's sad,
Or it's quiet, or it's mad.
It's a good thing, or it's bad,
But beautiful...

Beautiful to take a chance
And if you fall, you fall,
And I'm thinking, 
I wouldn't mind at all.

Love is tearful, or it's gay,
It's a problem, or it's play.
It's a heartache either way,
But beautiful...

And I'm thinking, if you were mine,
I'd never let you go.
And that would be but beautiful,
I know.


Recorded By:

Barbra Streisand
Johnny Hartman
Stan Getz
Billie Holiday

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here's That Rainy Day

By Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke
1953

A famous favorite of Frank Sinatra's this sublime ballad has its origins in the stage musical Carnival in Flanders, in which it was introduced by Dolores Gray. It was also the very favorite song of Johnny Carson, and the TV legend sang an impromptu duet of it with Bette Medler on his second-to-last Tonight Show. I've embedded the video of it below, and if you can watch it without getting at least a little misty...well, then you're reading the wrong blog.

Lyrics:

Maybe I should have saved
Those leftover dreams.
Funny, but here's that rainy day.

Here's that rainy day
They told me about.
And I laughed at the thought
That it might turn out this way.

Where is that worn out wish
That I threw aside,
After it brought my love so near?

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day.
Funny, that rainy day is here.

Recorded By:

Lena Horne
Tony Bennett
Jack Jones
Astrud Gilberto
Billy Eckstine

Where or When

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1937

A slowly rising, powerful ballad from Rodger & Hart, this one was introduced by Ray Heatherton and Mitzi Green on stage in Babes in Arms. The song also made it into the 1939 musical film of the same name. Although a hit for many artists at the time, it was resurrected more than 20 years later with a number three hit for Dion & The Belmonts.

Lyrics:

When you're awake, the things you think
Come from the dream you dream.
Thought has wings, and lots of things
Are seldom what they seem.
Sometimes you think you've lived before--
All that you live today,
Things you do come back to you,
As though they knew the way.
Oh, the tricks your mind can play.

It seems we stood and talked like this, before.
We looked at each other in the same way then,
But I can't remember where or when.

The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore.
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then,
But I can't remember where or when.

Some things that happened for the first time
Seem to be happening again.

And so, it seems that we have met before,
And that we laughed before, also loved before,
But who knows where or when?

Recorded By:

Hal Kemp
Frank Sinatra
The Lettermen
Julie Andrews
Count Basie

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cry

By Churchill Kohlman
1951

Early '50s crooner Johnnie Ray introduced this song with what would remain its biggest hit recording. It would later become rather popular with country recording artists, although it was also among Ray Charles' more notable hits.

Lyrics:

If your sweetheart sends a letter of goodbye,
It’s no secret you’ll feel better if you cry.
When waking from a bad dream,
Don’t you sometimes think it’s real?
But it’s only false emotions that you feel.
If your heartaches seem to hang around too long,
And your blues keep getting bluer with each song,
Remember, sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky,
So let your hair down, and go on and cry.

Recorded By:

Roy Orbison
Crystal Gayle
Vera Lynn
Jerry Lee Lewis
Tammy Wynette

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Continental

By Con Conrad & Herb Magidson
1934

The gorgeous Ginger Rogers introduced this sophisticated number in one of her classic vehicles with Fred Astaire, The Gay Divorcee--a film that's a cornucopia of Astaire/Rogers gems. It holds the distinction of being the very first song awarded the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Lyrics:

Beautiful music...
Dangerous rhythm...

It's something daring, the Continental.
A way of dancing that's really ultra-new.
It's very subtle, the Continental,
Because it does what you want it to do.

It has a passion, the Continental,
An invitation to moonlight and romance.
It's quite the fashion, the Continental,
Because you tell of your love while you dance.

You kiss while you're dancing.
It's continental, ooh, it's continental.
You sing while you're dancing.
Your voice is gentle, and so sentimental.

You'll know before the dance is through,
That you're in love with her and she's in love with you.
You'll find while you're dancin',
That there's a rhythm in your heart and soul,
A certain rhythm that you can't control,
And you will do the Continental all the time.

Beautiful music...
Dangerous rhythm...

The Continental!

Recorded By:

Leo Reisman
Frank Sinatra
Oscar Peterson
Nat King Cole
Django Reinhardt

Saturday, May 16, 2009

When Your Lover Has Gone

By Einar Aaron Swan
1931

Obscure Scandinavian-American composer Swan solidified his place in pop immortality with this heartbreaker, which debuted in the James Cagney/Joan Blondell comedy Blonde Crazy. Gene Austin had a major hit with it soon after. It's lyrics perfectly capture the emotions of loss and desperation associated with losing the one you love.

Lyrics:

What good is the scheming, the planning and dreaming
That comes with each new love affair?
The dreams that we cherish, so often might perish,
And leaves you with castles in air.

When you're alone, who cares for starlit skies?
When you're alone, the magic moonlight dies.
At break of dawn, there is no sunrise,
When your lover has gone.

What lonely hours, the evening shadows bring.
What lonely hours, with memories lingering.
Like faded flowers, life can't mean anything,
When your lover has gone.

Recorded By:

Ethel Waters
Benny Goodman
Billie Holiday
Frank Sinatra
Louis Armstrong

Scorsese to Direct Sinatra Biopic!

Extremely good news today for any fan of the Great American Songbook, and of great movies. It's been announced that acclaimed director Martin Scorsese's next project will be a movie about the life of Frank Sinatra, arguably the greatest vocal interpreter of popular song who ever lived.

Scorsese, for my money the greatest director of the modern era, has stated that the film will be taking an unorthodox approach, presenting a series of different episodes from the life of the legendary crooner. It's not known what actor(s) will be portraying the Chairman of the Board.

Surprisingly, this will be the very first theatrical film on the life of one of the 20th century's true cultural icons. I always insisted he was perfect material for an epic motion picture, and now it looks like we'll be getting it. Very, very exciting stuff. As a fan of both his work and Scorsese's, you better believe I will be first in line to see this when it hits theaters in 2011.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Willow Weep for Me

By Ann Ronell
1932

There is a bit of controversy surrounding this sublime and unusual jazz standard. Specifically, it has long been rumored that it was actually composed by George Gershwin, who was romantically involved with Ronell at the time it was published. However, this has never been proven, and Ronell was in fact a legit songwriter in her own right, also known for co-writing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" for Disney. "Willow Weep for Me" was introduced by Paul Whiteman's orchestra, with Irene Taylor on vocals.

Lyrics:

Willow weep for me,
Willow weep for me,
Bend your branches green along the stream that runs to sea.
Listen to my plea,
Hear me willow, and weep for me.

Gone my lovers dream,
Lovely summer dream,
Gone and left me here to weep my tears into the stream.
Sad as I can be,
Hear me willow, and weep for me.

Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned.
Left my heart a-breaking, and making a moan.
Murmur to the night to hide its starry light,
So none will see me sighing and crying all alone.

Weeping willow tree,
Weep in sympathy,
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me.
When the shadows fall, hear me willow, and weep for me.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Nina Simone
Jack Jones
Dinah Washington

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pennies from Heaven

By Arthur Johnston & Johnny Burke
1936

One of the most recognizable songs of the 1930s, this one was introduced by none other than the premiere vocalist of the era, Bing Crosby. He did so in the musical film of the same. Billie Holday had a hit recording with it the very same year, making it an instant pop standard. It so epitomized the era, that its name was used as the title to a 1978 BBC series and subsequent 1981 movie in which characters mimed popular songs of the 1930s.

Lyrics:

A long time ago, a million years BC,
The best things in life were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated a sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated a moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and then,
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That's what storms were made for,
And you shouldn't be afraid for...

Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven?

You'll find your fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.

Trade them for a package of
Sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love,
You must have showers.

So when you hear it thunder,
Don't run under a tree.
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.

Recorded By:

Louis Armstrong
Tony Bennett
Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Louis Prima

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The End of a Love Affair

By Edward Redding
1950

This somber and smokey tune of love and loss was practically written for the saloon. Jimmy Dorsey's orchestra introduced it, but it was quickly snatched up by a number of different artists during the 1950s.

Lyrics:

So I walk a little too fast, and I drive a little too fast,
And I'm reckless its true, but what else can you do
At the end of a love affair?

So I talk a little too much, and I laugh a little too much,
And my voice is too loud when I'm out in a crowd,
So that people are apt to stare.

Do they know, do they care, that it's only that I'm lonely,
And low as can be?
And the smile on my face isn't really a smile at at all!

So I smoke a little too much, and I drink a little too much,
And the tunes I request are not always the best,
But the ones where the trumpets blare!

So I go at a maddening pace,
And I pretend that its taking your place
But what else can you do, at the end of a love affair?

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Johnny Hartman
Frank Sinatra
Julie London
Dexter Gordon

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How Could We Be Wrong?

By Cole Porter1933

A song which works equally well as a foxtrot or a heartbreaking ballad, it was introduced by Gertrude Lawrence in the Porter musical, "Nymph Errant". Not one of Porter's best known compositions, but an extremely powerful one, nonetheless. For anyone who's ever found that someone with whom to sing life's duet.
Lyrics:

The moment I saw you and you looked my way,
That moment of moments, I started to say:
"Could this be my long lost dream come true?"
The moment we touched, I knew.

How could we be wrong,
When we both are so set on it?
how could we be wrong?

Our love is so strong,
I'd be willing to bet on it.
How could we be wrong?

Why should it ever die?
Darling, you and I
Are too wonderfully happy today
To throw it away.

Now, life is a song.
If we build a duet on it,
How could we be wrong?

Recorded By:

Ray Noble w/Al Bowlly
Bobby Short
Maude Maggart
Billy Paul Williams
Charlotte McKinnon

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Half as Much

By Curley Williams
1951

A classic example of a country song that became a pop standard, this one was introduced by Hank Williams in 1952, nearly topping the country charts that year. It immediately crossed over, however, thanks to a number-one hit recording the same year by Rosemary Clooney. Since then, much like another Williams' hit, "Cold, Cold Heart", it has become firmly a part of the American songbook.

Lyrics:

If you love me half as much as I love you,
You wouldn't worry me half as much as you do.
You're nice to me when there's no one else around.
You only build me up to let me down.

If you missed me half as much as I miss you,
You wouldn't stay away half as much as you do.
I know that I would never feel so blue,
If you only loved me half as much as I love you.

Recorded By:

Van Morrison
Patsy Cline
Ray Charles
Petula Clark
Peggy Lee

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ain't She Sweet

By Milton Ager & Jack Yellen
1927

Written by Ager for his daughter Shana, who grew up to be an important political commentator (pictured), this ditty was a mega-hit of the late Roaring '20s, and is still strongly associated with that era. It was first recorded by Ben Bernie's orchestra. Modern fans may recognize it as having been sung by Tweety Bird invarious Looney Tunes cartoons, as well as being recorded by The Beatles during their early, formative years.

Lyrics:

Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down that street.
Yes I ask you very confidentially,
Ain't she sweet?

Ain't she nice?
Look her over once or twice.
Yes I ask you very confidentially,
Ain't she nice?

Just cast an eye in her direction.
Oh me oh my, ain't that perfection?

I repeat,
Well, don't you think that's kinda neat?
Yes I ask you very confidentially,
Ain't she sweet?

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Pearl Bailey
Bunny Berigan
Eddie Cantor
Tommy Dorsey

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