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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Foggy Day

By George & Ira Gershwin
1937

A truly delightful Gershwin treasure, written by the brothers for the film A Damsel in Distress. As with so many Gershwin classics, it was introduced in the movie by the one and only Fred Astaire, a performer whose class and style perfectly matched that of the song itself.

Lyrics:

A foggy day,
In London town,
It had me low,
And it had me down.
I viewed the morning
With much alarm.
The british museum
Had lost its charm.

How long, I wondered,
Could this thing last?
But the age of miracles,
It hadn't past.
And suddenly,
I saw you standing right there.
And in foggy London town,
The sun was shining everywhere.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Doris Day
Sarah Vaughan
Judy Garland
Charles Mingus

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prisoner of Love

By Russ Colombo, Clarence Gaskill & Leo Robin
1931

A beautiful standard Colombo wrote and introduced himself in the early 1930s. It enjoyed a couple of interesting resurgences. Perry Como would bring it back in the 1940s, and it became one of his signature hits. Then in the early 1960s, it became the first major hit record for a young James Brown. Before he got all funky and stuff...

Lyrics:

Alone from night to night you'll find me,
Too weak to break the chains that bind me.
I need no shackles to remind me,
I'm just a prisoner of love.

For one command I stand and wait now,
From one who's master of my fate now.
I can't escape for it's too late now,
I'm just a prisoner of love.

What's the good of my caring,
If someone is sharing those arms with me?
Although she has another,
I can't have another, for I'm not free.

She's in my dreams awake or sleeping,
Upon my knees to her I'm creeping.
My very life is in her keeping,
I'm just a prisoner of love.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Billy Eckstine
Keely Smith
Etta James
Lester Young

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Concentrate on You

By Cole Porter
1940

A Porter tune that is typically dripping with class and sophistication. This quiet and moving ballad was written for the film Broadway Melody of 1940, in which it was introduced by Douglas McPhail. This same show featured such other Porter classics as "Begin the Beguine".

Lyrics:

Whenever skies look gray to me,
And trouble begins to brew,
Whenever the winter winds become too strong,
I concentrate on you.

When fortune cries nay, nay to me,
And people declare you're through,
Whenever the blues become my only songs,
I concentrate on you.

On your smile, so sweet, so tender,
When at first my kiss you do decline,
On the light in your eyes when you surrender,
And once again our arms intertwine.

And so, when wise men say to me
That loves young dream never comes true,
To prove that even the wise men can be wrong,
I concentrate on you.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Fred Astaire
Patricia Barber
Lena Horne

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Beginning to See the Light

By Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, Don George & Harry James
1944

One of the Duke's all-time classic compositions, which naturally became closely related with his orchestra. The Ellington band recorded it in 1945, but it was Ella Fitzgerald & The Ink Spots who introduced it earlier that same year. A sophisticated melody, combined with a sophisticated lyric make this one an immortal gem.

Lyrics:

I never cared much for moonlit skies,
I never wink back at fireflies.
But now that the stars are in your eyes,
I'm beginning to see the light.

I never went in for afterglow,
Or candlelight on the mistletoe.
But now when you turn the lamp down low,
I'm beginning to see the light.

Used to ramble through the park,
Shadowboxing in the dark,
Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire now.

I never made love by lantern-shine,
I never saw rainbows in my wine.
But now that your lips are burning mine,
I'm beginning to see the light.

Recorded By:

Billy Eckstine
Harry James
Frank Sinatra
Kelly Rowland
Bobby Darin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Through the Night

By Cole Porter
1934

One of the many classic standards Porter composed for his epic musical, Anything Goes. This would be the same stellar work that included such hits as "You're the Top", "I Get a Kick Out of You" and the title song. This one was introduced on stage by stars Ethel Merman and William Gaxton.

Lyrics:

The day is my enemy, the night my friend,
For I'm always so alone
Till the day draws to an end.
But when the sun goes down
And the moon comes through,
To the monotone of the evening's drone
I'm all alone with you.

All through the night,
I delight in your love,
All through the night, you're so close to me.
All through the night, from a height far above,
You and your love brings me ecstasy.

When dawn comes to waken me,
You're never there at all.
I know you've forsaken me,
Till the shadows fall.
But then once again
I can dream,
I've the right
To be close to you
All through the night.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Julie London
Marilyn Horne
Paul Robeson
Cole Porter

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've Had My Moments

By Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn
1934

A charming song that originated in a charming musical film, The Girl from Missouri starring Jean Harlow and Franchot Tone. Donaldson and Kahn composed a couple songs for the film, and this melodic beauty was introduced by leading man Tone. Other songs were contributed by the likes of Jimmy McHugh & Dorothy Fields, Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz, and Victor Young & Ned Washington.

Lyrics:

I've had my moments, I will confess,
My fleeting moments of tenderness,
I sang of true love, I've played guitars,
Then found a new love 'neath tropical stars.

This time's the last time, this time it's new,
Love as a pastime for me is through,
I've had my moments, my big bad moments,
But now my one big moment is you.

I sang of true love, and I've played guitars,
Then found a new love 'neath tropical stars.

This time's the last time, this time it's new,
Love as a pastime for me is through,
I've had my moments, my big bad moments,
But now my one big moment is you.

Recorded By:

Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli
Frank Sinatra
Peggy Lee
Al Bowlly
Melissa Collard

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sleep Warm

By Lew Spence, Alan Bergman & Marilyn Keith
1958

Written for Frank Sinatra by the same composer who gave him Nice 'n Easy, this song was recorded by the Chairman during the sessions for his superb Only the Lonely album. It was also recorded shortly thereafter by Sinatra comrade Dean Martin for his album of the same name (which Sinatra conducted).

Lyrics:

Sleep warm, sleep tight,
When you turn off the light,
Sleep warm, sleep well, my love.

Rest your head on your pillow,
What a lucky pillow.
Close to you, so close to you all night.

Sleep warm, sleep well,
Let dreams within you dwell,
Sweet dreams of me, my love.

Close your eyes now and kiss me,
And whisper you miss me,
Sleep tight, sleep well, sleep warm.

Recorded By:

Stacey Kent
Meredith D'Ambrosio
Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Tomasz Stanko

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Goody Goody

By Matt Malneck & Johnny Mercer
1936

This clever melody, with even cleverer lyrics from the irrepressible Mercer, was introduced by the Benny Goodman orchestra, with Helen Ward on vocals. Some 20 years later, doo-wop crooner Frankie Lyman had a minor hit with it that returned it to the spotlight for a bit. A very catchy number, it remains highly recognizable.

Lyrics:

Do you remember me sitting all alone, waiting for the tinkle of the telephone?
Now the action, Jackson's turned right around, goody goody!
Yes you remember me, I was all for you, sitting, waiting, hoping like you told me to.
Now the action, Jackson's turned right around.

So you met someone who set you back on your heels,
Goody Goody!
So you met someone and now you know how it feels,
Goody Goody!

Well you gave her your heart too, just as I gave mine to you.
And she broke it in little pieces, now how do you do?

So you lie awake just singing the blues all night,
Goody Goody!
And you found that loves a barrel of dynamite!
Hurray and hallelujah, you had it coming to ya.
Goody goody for you! Goody goody for me!
And I hope you're satisfied, you rascal you!

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Chicago
Della Reese
Julie London

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Thru with Love

By Joseph A. Livingston, Matt Malneck & Gus Kahn
1931

An aching composition that epitomizes those all-too-familiar feelings of heartbreak and jilted love. A major hit song of 1931, it was recorded by a vast number of artists that year, including Paul Whiteman's orchestra, Al Bowlly, Don Voorhees' orchestra, Al Lack's City Radiolians, and most notably Bing Crosby. It remains a timeless, poignant classic, made even more popular by Marilyn Monroe's famous rendition in Some Like It Hot.

Lyrics:

I have given you my true love,
But you love a new love.
What am I supposed to do now
With you now, you're through?
You'll be on your merry way
And there's only this to say:

I'm through with love
I'll never fall again.
Said adieu to love
Don't ever call again.
For I must have you or no one
And so I'm through with love.

I've locked my heart
I'll keep my feelings there.
I have stocked my heart
with icy, frigid air.
And I mean to care for no one
Because I'm through with love.

Why did you lead me
to think you could care?
You didn't need me
for you had your share
of slaves around you
to hound you and swear
with deep emotion and devotion to you.

Goodbye to spring and all it meant to me
It can never bring the thing that used to be.
For I must have you or no one
And so I'm through with love.

Recorded By:

Lena Horne
Joe Williams
Jane Monheit
Ella Fitzgerald
Diana Krall

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Love You

By Cole Porter
1944

An amusing composition from the king of amusing compositions. For his musical Mexican Hayride, Porter took a cliche title and deliberately wrote a lyric that would be humorously banal for it. It was introduced by Bobby Clark on stage, and later that year in a hit record from Bing Crosby.

Lyrics:

I love you
Hums the April breeze.
I love you
Echo the hills.

I love you
The golden dawn agrees
As once more she sees
Daffodils.

It's spring again
And birds on the wing again
Start to sing again
The old melody.

I love you,
That's the song of songs
And it all belongs
To you and me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Jo Stafford
Barbra Streisand
Bill Evans
Anita O'Day

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We Kiss in a Shadow

By Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
1951

Written for the characters of Tuptim and Lun Tha in the classic Broadway musical The King and I, in which these two lovers profess their feelings despite the King's potential disapproval. The melody is an interesting blend of Western and Eastern flavors. It was introduced on stage by Doretta Morrow and Larry Douglas.

Lyrics:

We kiss in a shadow,
We hide from the moon.
Our meetings are few,
And over too soon.

We speak in a whisper,
Afraid to be heard;
When people are near,
We speak not a word.

Alone in our secret,
Together we sigh,
For one smiling day to be free.

To kiss in the sunlight,
And say to the sky:
"Behold and believe what you see!
"Behold how my lover loves me!"

Recorded By:

June Christy
Perry Como
Vic Damone
Doris Day
Sonny Rollins

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby

By Fats Waller & Alex Hill
1931

One of the signature tunes of the irrepressible Fats Waller, whose music is always a joy to listen to. He wrote this song himself, and naturally introduced it. It remains to this day one of the tunes most commonly associated with him, perhaps second only to "Ain't Misbehavin'". I've always found Hill's lyrics to be especially amusing. A fun song to sing along with.

Lyrics:

I'm the world's most happy creature,
Tell me, what can worry me?
I'm crazy 'bout my baby,
And my baby's crazy 'bout me!

Mr. Cupid was our teacher,
That's the reason we agree,
I'm crazy 'bout my baby,
And my baby's crazy 'bout me!

Parson, get your book out,
Get it ready in your hand,
Keep a steady look-out;
'Cause I know you understand.

We're an A-one combination,
The perfect he and she,
I'm crazy 'bout my baby,
And my baby's crazy 'bout me!

Recorded By:

Cab Calloway
Louis Armstrong
Leon Redbone
Maxine Sullivan
Fletcher Henderson

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