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Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise

By George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin & B.G. De Slyva
1922

A boisterous, rollicking number from the Gershwins, with a little help from De Sylva, this tune was introduced in George White's Scandals of 1922, in which it was played the Paul Whiteman orchestra, conducted by future film music impresario Max Steiner. Whiteman made a recording of it soon after, helping turn the song into one of the most memorable jazz pieces of the era, as well as a Roaring '20s anthem. The song experienced new life recently thanks to its inclusion in the Martin Scorsese film, The Aviator.

Lyrics:

All you preachers
Who delight in panning the dancing teachers,
Let me tell you there are a lot of features
Of the dance that carry you through
The gates of Hea-ven.

It's madness
To be always sitting around in sadness,
When you could be learning the steps of gladness.
You'll be happy when you can do
Just six or seven;

Begin to day!
You'll find it nice,
The quickest way to paradise.
When you practise,
Here's the thing to know,
Simply say as you go...

I'll build a stairway to Paradise
With a new step ev'ry day !
I'm gonna get there at any price;
Stand aside, I'm on my way !
I've got the blues
And up above it's so fair.
Shoes ! Go on and carry me there !
I'll build a stairway to Paradise
With a new step ev'ry day.

Ev'ry new step
Helps a bit ; but any old kind of two step,
Does as well. It don't matter what step you step,
If you work it into your soul
You'll get to Heaven.
Get bu-sy ;
Dance with Maud the countess, or just plain Lizzy:
Dance until you're blue in the face and dizzy.
When you've learn'd to dance in your sleep
You're sure to win out.

In time you'll get Saint Vitus dance,
Which beats the latest thing from France.
Take no chances on this Paradise ;
Let me give you advice.

Recorded By:

Rufus Wainwright
Sarah Vaughan
Paul Whiteman
J.D. Sebastian & Dion
Corrine Devries

1 comment:

Howard said...

My long-standing ambition is to perform a medley of Stairway to Paradise, Stairway to the Stars, and Stairway to Heaven.

I am so far incapable of convincing my musical cohort that this is actually a good idea.

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