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Friday, October 30, 2009

Shine On, Harvest Moon

By Jack Norworth & Nora Bayes
1908

An utterly charming tune from the turn of the 20th century, which remained a popular standard for many decades. It was first performed by the composers in the Zeigfeld Follies of 1908. It is one of the songs of that era that was usually performed in something of an ethnic African-American style. It would later be repopularized on the Arthur Godfrey radio program, and I have always adored Laurel & Hardy's beautiful rendition in The Flying Deuces (below).

Lyrics:

The night was mighty dark so you could hardly see,
For the moon refused to shine.
Couple sitting underneath a willow tree,
For love they did pine.
Little maid was kinda 'fraid of darkness
So she said, "I guess I'll go."
Boy began to sigh, looked up at the sky,
And told the moon his little tale of woe...
Oh, Shine on, shine on, harvest moon
Up in the sky;
I ain't had no lovin'
Since January, April, June or July.
Snow time ain't no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon;
So shine on, shine on, harvest moon,
For me and my gal.
Recorded By:

Leon Redbone
Coleman Hawkins
Les Brown
Artie Shaw
The Ink Spots

Monday, October 26, 2009

When I Fall in Love

By Victor Young & Edward Heyman
1952

The Robert Mitchum war picture One Minute to Zero yielded this timeless classic, in which Young's melody was included in the score. That same year, Doris Day fully introduced it using Heyman's lyric, and one of the most popular wedding songs of all time was born (my own in-laws used it in 1967!).

Lyrics:

When I fall in love,
It will be forever,
Or I'll never fall in love.

In a restless world like this is,
Love is ended before its begun.
And too many moonlight kisses
Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun.

When I give my heart,
It will be completely,
Or I'll never give my heart.

And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too,
Is when I fall in love with you.

Recorded By:

Johnny Mathis
Nat King Cole
Chris Botti
Chet Baker
Tony Bennett

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blue Skies

By Irving Berlin
1926

This classic was written at the last minute by Berlin as an addition to Rodgers' & Hart's musical Betsy, in which it was introduced by Belle Baker. The following year, it became one of the first songs featured in a talkie, when Al Jolson sang it in The Jazz Singer. More than 75 years later, it would even be sung by the character of Data in one of the Star Trek movies.

Lyrics:

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Evry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but theyre not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When youre in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

Recorded By:

Judy Garland
Josephine Baker
Bing Crosby
Willie Nelson
Dinah Washington

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Could Write a Book

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1940

Written for the original stage version of Pal Joey, where it was introduced by Gene Kelly and Leila Ernst. It did not make it into the Frank Sinatra film version, however. It also was used to great effect in the 1997 Woody Allen movie Deconstructing Harry. I was inspired to focus on this song today thanks to a gorgeous rendition by the remarkable Emma Wallace, which can be found here.

Lyrics:

If they asked me, I could write a book
About the way you walk, and whisper,
And look.
I could write a preface
On how we met
That the world will never forget.

And the simple secret of the plot
Is just to tell them;
That I love you, a lot.
Then the world discovers,
As my book ends,
How to make two lovers of friends.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Harry Connick Jr.
Miles Davis
Ella Fitzgerald
Mel Torme

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And the Angels Sing

By Ziggy Elman & Johnny Mercer
1939

Benny Goodman's trumpeter Elman came up with this melody in 1938 as an instrumental for his own band, called "Frailach in Swing". But once Mercer added lyrics to it, it became a massive hot for Goodman's orchestra. Six years later, it became the title song of a movie musical starring Fred MacMurray and Dorothy Lamour.

Lyrics:

We meet, and the angels sing
The angels sing the sweetest song I ever heard
You speak, and the angels sing
Or am I breathing music into every word

Suddenly, the setting is strange
I can see water and moonlight beaming
Silver waves that break on some undiscovered shore - Then
Suddenly, I see it all change
Long winter nights with the candles gleaming
Through it all your face that I adore.

You smile, and the angels sing
And though it's just a gentle murmur at the start
We kiss, and the angels sing
And leave their music ringing in my heart.

Recorded By:

Glenn Miller
Count Basie
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Night When We Were Young

By Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg
1935

Specifically written for the singing actor Lawrence Tibbett by Arlen (pictured) and his frequent associate Harburg, it was introduced by Tibbett in the film Metropolitan. Harburg's powerful lyric deals with a couple who fall in love at the wrong time in their lives. Legend has it then when the bombastic Tibbett heard Sinatra's version 20 years later, he exclaimed, "Oooohhh...I see," as if to say, "So that's how it's supposed to be sung!"

Lyrics:

Last night when we were young
Love was a star, a song unsung
Life was so new, so real so right
Ages ago last night

Today the world is old
You flew away and time grew cold
Where is that star that shone so bright
Ages ago last night?

To think that spring had depended
On merely this: a look, a kiss
To think that something so splendid
Could slip away in one little daybreak

So now, let's reminisce
And recollect the sighs and the kisses
The arms that clung

When we were young last night.

Recorded By:

Judy Garland
Carly Simon
Tony Bennett
Sarah Vaughan
Tierney Sutton

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (In a Five and Ten Cent Store)

By Harry Warren, Mort Dixon & Billy Rose
1931

Interestingly, the lyric to this song was originally written to a different melody in 1926, but it was in '31 that Harry Warren took it and adapted it to his melody for the musical Billy Rose's Crazy Quilt, in which it was introduced by the immortal Fanny Brice. I was just today lucky enough to find Bing Crosby's original 1931 rendition on 78 at a record convention, and I was re-acquainted with how disarming and sweet this song really is. Pure bliss.

Lyrics:

It was a lucky April shower,
It was the most convenient door.
I found a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.

The rain continued for an hour.
I hung around for three or four.
Around a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.

She was selling china
And when she made those eyes,
I kept buying china
Until the crowd got wise.

If you should run into a shower,
Just step inside my cottage door,
And meet the million dollar baby
From the five and ten cent store.

Love comes along like a popular song,
Any time or anywhere at all.
Rain or sunshine,
Spring or fall.
Say, you'll never know when it may say hello
In a very unexpected place.
For example, take my case.

She was selling china,
And when she made those eyes,
I kept buying china
Until the crowd got wise.

If you should run into a shower,
Oh, step inside my cottage door.
And meet my million dollar baby
From the five and ten cent store.

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Perry Como
Dizzy Gillespie
Benny Goodman
Jack Leonard

Friday, October 9, 2009

Please Check Out This Interview with Yours Truly!

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by the talented and beautiful Emma Wallace, who in addition to being an amazing up-and-coming singer/songwriter/musician in her own right, also maintains her own blog. It isn't often that I get to talk about the standards or Standard of the Day, since I spend so much time promoting my original blog, The Vault of Horror. And so I was supremely grateful for the opportunity to talk about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.

Find the interview at Emma's blog here.

And while you're at it, check out some of Emma's enthralling music. I just downloaded her new CD myself!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)

By James P. Johnson & Henry Creamer
1926

Some songs are just very much of their era, and this is one of them. A festive melody with a melancholy lyrics, this infectious number was introduced by Clarence Williams' Blue Five, with vocalist Eva Taylor. But the 1930 recording by McKinney's Cotton Pickers really popularized it, with the group using it as their theme song. It resurfaced in a big way when Frank Sinatra performed it in his 1957 film The Joker Is Wild.

Lyrics:

If I could be with you, I'd love you strong.
If I could be with you, I'd love you long.
I want you to know that I wouldn't go,
Until I told you honey why I love you so.

If I could be with you, one hour tonight,
If I was free to do the things I might,
I'm telling you true, I'd be anything but blue.
If I could be with you.

Recorded By:

Kay Starr
Louis Armstrong
Tony Bennett
Bing Crosby
Doris Day

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again

By Milton Ager & Jack Yellen
1929

Best remembered as FDR's 1932 election campaign song, this tune has come to symbolize peace and prosperity in America. It was introduced by the Leo Reisman orchestra, yet interestingly its most famous interpreter may be Barbra Streisand, who recorded it decades later. It has also been featured in countless films, and was the theme song for comedian Rip Taylor and social satirist Mark Russell.

Lyrics:

So long sad times,
Go long bad times,
We are rid of you at last.
Howdy gay times,
Cloudy gray times,
You are now a thing of the past.

Happy days are here again,
The skies above are clear again,
So lets sing a song of cheer again.
Happy days are here again!

Altogether shout it now,
There's no one who can doubt it now,
So let's tell the world about it now,
Happy days are here again!

Your cares and troubles are gone.
There'll be no more from now on,
From now on...

Happy days are here again,
The skies above are clear again,
So, lets sing a song of cheer again,
Happy days are here again!

Recorded By:

Guy Lombardo
Tierney Sutton
George Shearing
Mitch Miller
Ray Brown

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