"More addictive than a goddam video game" - Balloon Juice

"One of my very favorite music blogs ever..." - Singer/Songwriter Emma Wallace

"Fascinating... really GREAT!!! You'll learn things about those tunes we all LOVE to play and blow on... SOD is required reading for my advanced students. It's fun, too!" - Nick Mondello of
AllAboutJazz.com

"I never let a day go by without checking it." - Bob Madison of Dinoship.com

"I had dinner the other night with some former WNEW staff members who spoke very highly of your work." - Joe Fay

Friday, July 31, 2009

Love Is Here to Stay

By George & Ira Gershwin
1938

It occurred to me that the first anniversary of Standard of the Day actually passed on July 21, with zero fanfare. So, to make up for that, tonight I give you this absolute classic of classics, and the final song the Gershwins wrote together. It was written for the film The Goldwyn Follies, which came out just after George's death. In fact, Ira wrote the words specifically with his brother in mind. This majestic jewel of popular music would reach its greatest height some 13 years later in the legendary musical An American in Paris.

Lyrics:

It's very clear,
Our love is here to stay;
Not for a year,
But ever and a day.

The radio and the telephone
And the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies,
And in time may go!

But, oh my dear,
Our love is here to stay.
Together we're
Going a long, long way.

In time the Rockies may tumble,
Gibraltar may crumble.
They're only made of clay,
But our love is here to stay.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Dinah Washington
Carmen McRae
Billie Holiday

Monday, July 20, 2009

Alexander's Ragtime Band

By Irving Berlin
1911

This was the first hit song for Berlin, and is even cited by some as the official beginning of the era of the Great American Songbook. Although it borrows from the African-American idioms of ragtime, it is not itself a rag tune. It does, however, hold the distinction of charting in five different decades, from the 1910s through the 1950s. It was introduced in Chicago by vaudeville singer Emma Carus.

Lyrics:

Oh, ma hon-ey, oh, ma hon-ey, bet-ter hur-ry and let's me-an-der
Ain't you go-in'? Ain't you go-in'? To the lea-der-man, rag-ged me-ter man?
Oh, ma hon-ey, oh, ma hon-ey, Let me take you to Al-ex-an-der's
Grand stand brass band, ain't you com-in' a-long?

CHORUS:
Come on and hear! Come on and hear! Al-ex-an-der's rag-time band!
Come on and hear! Come on and hear! It's the best band in the land!
They can play a bu-gle call like you nev-er heard be-fore
So nat-u-ral that you want to go to war
That's just the best-est band what am, ma hon-ey lamb
Come on a-long, come on a-long, let me take you by the hand
Up to the man, up to the man, who's the lead-er of the band
And if you care to hear the Swa-nee Riv-er played in rag-time
Come on and hear, come on and hear,
Al-ex-an-der's Rag-Time Band.

VERSE 2:
Come and listen to the wonderful sound, hear the music that is sweapin the town, You'll soon be tappin your feet to a new kind of beat that keeps u happy all day long i love to her that banjo strimmin eith to that bar, ragtime music is the greatest by far, so come and see, you'll soon agree they are best in the land. Come on lets give em a hand

CHORUS:
Come on and hear! Come on and hear! Al-ex-an-der's rag-time band!
Come on and hear! Come on and hear! It's the best band in the land!
They can play a bu-gle call like you nev-er heard be-fore
So nat-u-ral that you want to go to war
That's just the best-est band what am, oh, ma hon-ey lamb
Come on a-long, come on a-long, let me take you by the hand
Up to the man, up to the man, who's the lead-er of the band
And if you care to hear the Swa-nee Riv-er played in rag-time
Come on and hear, come on and hear,
Al-ex-an-der's Rag-Time Band

Recorded By:

Al Jolson
Julie Andrews
Ray Charles
The Andrew Sisters
Bessie Smith

I'll Be Around

By Alec Wilder
1942

A gorgeous standard from the classically trained Wilder, who first got the idea for it while riding a taxicab in Baltimore. Said the composer, "I spotted [the title] as I was crumpling up the envelope some days later. Since I was near a piano, I wrote a tune, using the title as the first phrase of the melody. I remember it only took about 20 minutes. The lyric took much longer to write." A sad lament of the neglected, unrequited lover, the tune is a melancholy gem. Introduced by Mildred Bailey.

Lyrics:

I'll be around,
No matter how
You treat me now.
I'll be around from now on.

Your latest love
Can never last,
And when its past,
I'll be around when he's gone.

Goodbye again,
And if you find a love like mine,
Just now and then,
Drop a line to say you're feeling fine.

And when things go wrong,
Perhaps you'll see
You're meant for me.
So I'll be around when he's gone.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Les Brown
Cab Calloway
Vic Damone

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dream a Little Dream of Me

By Fabian Andre, Wilbur Schwandt & Gus Kahn
1931

Although written as a ballad, it was introduced in up-tempo fashion by the Wayne King orchestra, and remained so until Doris Day's 1957 rendition. Since then, it has usually been recorded with a slow tempo, including the version best known to modern listeners, the 1968 recording by Mama Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Papas. That single went platinum, in fact.

Lyrics:

Stars shining bright above you,
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you".
Birds singing in the sycamore trees--
Dream a little dream of me.

Say nighty-night and kiss me,
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me.
While I'm alone and blue as can be,
Dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on dear,
Still craving your kiss.
I'm longing to linger till dawn dear,
Just saying this:

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you,
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be,
Dream a little dream of me.

Recorded By:

Louis Armstrong
Frankie Laine
Ella Fitzgerald
Nat King Cole Trio
Dinah Shore

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mack the Knife

By Kurt Weill & Marc Blitzstein
1928/1954

German composer Weill originally wrote this song for the 1928 Bertolt Brecht musical drama Die Dreigroschenoper, known in English as The Threepenny Opera. In fact, it was Brecht himself who provided the original German lyrics. Some 25 years later, an English translation by Blitzstein would be introduced as a jazz standard by Louis Armstrong. To this day, the most famous rendition of this swinging pop masterpiece is that of Bobby Darrin.

Lyrics:

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear,
And it shows them pearly white.
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe,
And he keeps it out of sight.

Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe,
Scarlet billows start to spread.
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe,
So there's never a trace of red.

Now on the sidewalk, sunny mornin',
Lies a body just oozin' life.
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner.
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There's a tugboat, down by the river don'tcha know,
Where a cement bag just a'droopin' on down
Oh, that cement is just, it's there for the weight, dear.
Five'll get ya ten old Macky's back in town.

Now d'ja hear 'bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe,
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash.
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor.
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?

Now Jenny Diver, Sukey Tawdry.
Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown.
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe,
Now that Macky's back in town!

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Michael Buble
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Wayne Newton

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's a Blue World

By Chet Forrest & Bob Wright 1940

Forrest & Wright were a winning songwriting combo for many years, and this was one of several times they were nominated for the Oscar while working at MGM. This particular song was written for Tony Martin to sing in the musical picture, Music in My Heart. Thirteen years later, The Four Freshmen would record a major hit with it.

Lyrics:

It's a blue world without you,
It's a blue world alone.
My days and nights
That once were filled with heaven,
With you away how empty they have grown.

It's a blue world from now on,
It's a through world for me.
The sea, the sky, my heart and I
We're all an indigo hue,
Without you, it's a blue, blue world
.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Glenn Miller
Mel Torme
Julie London

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Full Moon and Empty Arms

By Buddy Kaye & Ted Mossman
1945

This richly beautiful popular song is one of many whose melody was inspired by a movement from Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. In addition to this tune, introduced by none other than Frank Sinatra during his Columbia period, the concerto also produced "I Think of You" by Don Marcotte & Jack Elliott (1941) and "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen (1975).

Lyrics:

Full moon and empty arms,
The moon is there for us to share,
But where are you?
A night like this could weave a memory,
And every kiss could start a dream for two.

Full moon and empty arms,
Tonight I'll use the magic moon to wish upon.
And next full moon,
If my one wish comes true,
My empty arms will be filled with you.

Recorded By:

Freddie Hubbard
Sarah Vaughan
Eddie Fisher
Nelson Eddy
Maynard Ferguson

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Moonlight Becomes You

By Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke
1942

This particular Van Heusen/Burke tune comes from one of the classic Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road" comedies. In this case, it was Road to Morocco, in which the song was introduced by Crosby himself. To this day, Crosby's version remains the benchmark.

Lyrics:

Moonlight becomes you, it goes with your hair.
You certainly know the right thing to wear.
Moonlight becomes you, I'm thrilled at the sight.
And I could get so romantic tonight.

You're all dressed up to go dreaming,
Now don't tell me I'm wrong.
And what a night to go dreaming--
Mind if I tag along?

If I say I love you, I want you to know
It's not just because there's moonlight,
Although, moonlight becomes you so.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Chet Baker
Willie Nelson
Ella Fitzgerald
Glenn Miller

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Change Partners

By Irving Berlin
1938

A number-one hit for Irving Berlin, originally written for the one and only Fred Astaire to sing to Ginger Rogers in the film Carefree. The song is one of Berlin's greatest both melodically and lyrically, and became an instant standard. It is also a fine example of the wonderful material Berlin created specifically for Astaire.

Lyrics:

Must you dance every dance with the same fortunate man?
You have danced with him since the music began.
Won't you change partners, and dance with me?

Must you dance quite so close, with your lips touching his face?
Can't you see I'm longing to be in his place?
Won't you change partners and dance with me?

Ask him to sit this one out and while you're alone,
I'll tell the waiter to tell him he's wanted on the telephone.

You've been locked in his arms ever since heaven-knows-when.
Won't you change partners and then,
You may never want to change partners again.

Recorded By:

Ozzie Nelson
Jimmy Dorsey
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Harry Connick Jr.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

God Bless America

By Irving Berlin
1918

A patriotic ballad taking the form of a prayer, this classic by Berlin is more popular with many than the more musically complex "Star-Spangled Banner". It was written at the end of World War I, and has become one of the nation's most beloved "modern anthems". Kate Smith's 1930s version will forever resonate with Americans.

Lyrics:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam--
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Recorded By:

Ray Charles
Leontyne Price
Connie Francis
Celine Dion
Ronan Tynan

Listen to Martini in the Morning

Jazz News