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Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's the Talk of the Town

By Jerry Livingston, Marty Symes & Al J. Neigburg
1933

A moving ballad whose lyrics is concerned with the gossip and shame that follows a canceled wedding after the invitations have already gone out, this song was introduced by the Glen Gray orchestra, one of many acts to record it in its debut year. The melody is a powerful one, moving up the scale with repeated notes, and then dramatically dropping as it approaches the title phrase.

Lyrics:

I can't show my face,
Can't go anyplace,
People stop an' stare,
It's so hard to bare,
Everybody knows you left me,
It's the talk of the town . . .

Every time we meet,
My heart skips a beat,
We don't stop to speak,
'Though it's just a week,
Everybody knows you left me,
It's the talk of the town . . .

We send out invitations,
To friends and relations,
Announcing our weddin' day
Friends and our relations,
Gave congratulations,
How can you face them?
What can you say?

Let's make up sweetheart,
We can't stay apart,
Don't let foolish pride,
Keep you from my side,
How can love like ours be ended?
It's the talk of the town . . .

Recorded By:

Bing Crosby
Perry Como
Joe Williams
Fletcher Henderson
Rebecca Kilgore

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm Getting Sentimental Over You

By George Bassman & Ned Washington
1932

Although it was introduced by the Washboard Rhythm Kings, this song is best known as the theme for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. Dorsey adopted the tune as his theme in 1935, and his saxophonist Noni Bernardi arranged it as a fox trot, which would be the form the band would always play it in. After Dorsey passed on in 1957, his former vocalist Frank Sinatra recorded the song as a tribute on his 1961 album I Remember Tommy.

Lyrics:

Never thought I'd fall,
But now I hear love's call.
I'm getting sentimental over you.

Things you say and do
Just thrill me through and through,
I'm getting sentimental over you.

I thought I was happy,
I could live without love.
Now I must admit,
Love is all I'm thinking of.

Won't you please be kind,
And just make up your mind
That you'll be sweet and gentle--be gentle with me!
`Cause I'm getting sentimental over you.

Recorded By:

Maynard Ferguson
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass
They Might Be Giants
Thelonious Monk
The Ink Spots

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lulu's Back in Town

By Harry Warren & Al Dubin
1935

The incomparable Dick Powell and The Mills Brothers introduced this buoyant tune in the musical film Broadway Gondolier. There were also additional lyrics added for a British version by lyricist Charles Dunn. Fats Waller would make a big hit with it not long after the movie.

Lyrics:

Where's that careless chambermaid?
Where'd she put my razor blade?
She mislaid it, I'm afraid,
It's gotta be foun'!
Ask her when she cleaned my room
What she did with my perfume;
I just can't lose it,
I've gotta use it,
'Cause Lulu's back in town.

Gotta get my old tuxedo pressed,
Gotta sew a button on my vest,
'Cause tonight I've gotta look my best,
Lulu's back in town.

Gotta get a half a buck somewhere,
Gotta shine my shoes and slick my hair,
Gotta get myself a boutonniere,
Lulu's back in town.

You can tell all my pets,
All my Harlem coquettes;
Mister Otis regrets
That he won't be aroun'.

You can tell the mailman not to call,
I ain't comin' home until the fall,
And I might not get back home at all,
Lulu's back in town.

Recorded By:

Mel Torme
Thelonious Monk
Oscar Peterson
Leon Redbone
Dave Brubeck

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fascinating Rhythm

George & Ira Gershwin
1924

One of the earliest hits for the Gershwins, and an early example of a pop son incorporating the syncopation common in jazz and ragtime (hence the title). It was introduced by Cliff Edwards, Fred Astaire and his sister Adele in the Broadway production Lady Be Good. It was also recently discovered to have been Tony Bennett's first released single, back in 1948 when he was singing under the name Joe Bari.

Lyrics:

Got a little rhythm, a rhythm, a rhythm
That pit-a-pats through my brain;
So darn persistent,
The day isn't distant
When it'll drive me insane.
Comes in the morning
Without any warning,
And hangs around me all day.
I'll have to sneak up to it
Someday, and speak up to it.
I hope it listens when I say:

Fascinating Rhythm,
You've got me on the go!
Fascinating Rhythm,
I'm all a-quiver.

When a mess you're making!
The neighbours want to know
Why I'm always shaking
Just like a flivver.

Each morning I get up with the sun -
Start a-hopping,
Never stopping -
To find at night no work has been done.

I know that
Once it didn't matter -
But now you're doing wrong;
When you start to patter
I'm so unhappy.

Won't you take a day off?
Decide to run along
Somewhere far away off -
And make it snappy!

Oh, how I long to be the man I used to be!
Fascinating rhythm,
On won't you stop picking on me?

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Judy Garland
Rosemary Clooney
Vic Damone
Tommy Dorsey

Les Paul 1915-2009

Standard of the Day salutes the legendary Les Paul, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 94. Born Lester William Polsfuss, he is responsible for the introduction of the modern electric guitar, and crafted a unique sound for himself, along with his singer wife Mary Ford.

From the late 1940s through the early 1960s, the duo put out a series of signature recordings that included songs like "Lover", "How High the Moon", "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" and "I'm Sitting on Top of the World".

Ironically, Les Paul would fade into retirement as the 1960s came to a close and his new instrument came to be embraced by the rock movement that would eclipse the type of music he and his peers made their living recording. Today, his name is synonymous with the brand of guitar it is emblazoned upon, used to play music very different from that recorded by Paul himself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Close to You

By Jerry Livingston, Carl Lampl & Al Hoffman
1943

Introduced by Frank Sinatra during his early tenure at Columbia Records, this song would remain a regular part of the Chairman's repertoire. He would later re-record it as the title track of his excellent 1956 album with the Hollywood String Quartet. Not to be confused with the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song of the same name (which Sinatra also recorded in 1970).

Lyrics:

Close to you, I will always stay.
Close to you, though you're far away.
You'll always be near,
As though you were here by my side.
No matter where,
In my dreams, I'll find you there.

Close to me, sharing your caress.
Can't you see, you're my happiness.
Wherever you go,
My heart will go too--what else can I do?
It only wants to be
Close to you.

Recorded By:

Brenda Lee
The Doors
Sarah Vaughan
Nelson Riddle
Perry Como

Sunday, August 2, 2009

South of the Border

By Jimmy Kennedy & Michael Carr
1939

A unique composition, in which the breezy, swinging melody is in direct contrast to the rueful lyrics, in which a man regrets his deception of a Mexican beauty he returns to when it's too late. It was written for "singing cowboy" Gene Autry, for the film of the same name. Frank Sinatra would record the most famous version nearly 20 years later.

Lyrics:

South of the border, down Mexico way,
That's where I fell in love, where the stars above came out to play.
And now as I wander, my thoughts ever stray
South of the border, down Mexico way.

She was a picture in old Spanish lace.
Just for a tender while, I kissed a smile upon her face.
'Cause it was fiesta, and we were so gay,
South of the border, down Mexico way.

Then she smiled as she whispered, "Manana,"
Never dreaming that we were parting.
Then I lied as a whispered, "Manana,"
'Cause our tomorrow never came.

South of the border, I went back one day.
There in a veil of white, by the candle light, she knelt to pray.
The mission bells told me that I mustn't stay
South of the border, down Mexico way.

Recorded By:

Patsy Cline
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass
Chris Isaak
Charlie Parker
Tommy Dorsey

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Little Girl Blue

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1935

A sweet mid-'30s hit for Rodgers & Hart, from the musical Jumbo, in which it was introduced on Broadway by Gloria Grafton. It became popular with both pop and jazz singers in subsequent decades, and was even used as the title song of Nina Simone's 1958 debut album.

Lyrics:

Sit there and count your fingers,
What can you do?
Old girl, you're through.
Just sit there and count your little fingers,
Unlucky little girl blue.

Just sit there and count the raindrops
Falling on you.
It's time you knew,
All you can count on
Are the raindrops
That fall on little girl blue.

No use, old girl.
You may as well surrender.
Your hopes are getting slender.
Why won't somebody send a tender blue boy
To cheer up little girl blue?

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Janis Joplin
Ella Fitzgerald
Judy Garland
Chet Baker

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