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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They Can't Take That Away from Me

By George & Ira Gershwin
1937

Last Thursday officially made three full years that Standard of the Day has been in existence, and to belatedly commemorate that milestone, today we shine the spotlight on one of the most celebrated standards of them all, which the Gershwin brothers composed for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical, Shall We Dance. Astaire introduces the tune in the movie, singing it to Rogers in a rare musical number with no dancing. Ira's lyric is a perfect mixture of joy and sadness, as our lover declares to his paramour that no amount of distance could erase the memories they've shared. Also of note is the ingenious way the lyric pairs up very mundane aspects of the beloved ("The way you hold your knife"), with more profound aspects ("The way you changed my life"). A lilting, perfect melody from the immortal George Gershwin completes this ultimate love ballad. George Gershwin passed on shortly after the movie was released, but was posthumously nominated, along with his brother, for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to read and support SOTD. Let's continue keeping these old songs alive together, shall we?

Lyrics:

Our romance won't end on a sorrowful note, though by tomorrow you're gone.
The song is ended, but as the songwriter wrote, the melody lingers on.
They may take you from me. I'll miss your fond caress.
But though they take you from me, I'll still possess...

The way you wear your hat,
The way you sip your tea,
The memory of all that.
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

The way your smile just beams,
The way you sing off-key,
The way you haunt my dreams.
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

We may never, never meet again on the bumpy road to love,
Still I'll always, always keep the memory of...

The way you hold your knife,
The way we danced till three,
The way you changed my life,
No, no, they can't take that away from me.
No, they can't take that away from me.

Recorded By:

Tony Bennett
Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday
Charlie Parker
Frank Sinatra

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bali Ha'i

By Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
1949

Written for the musical South Pacific, the song was meant to evoke the dreamlike, exotic quality of the fictional volcanic island for which it is named. The island was inspired by the real Pacific island of Ambae, mentioned by James Michener in the novel on which the play was based. It was performed by Juanita Hill on stage and in the film version, and first recorded by Perry Como. In the 1950s, it would become predictably popular during the exotica movement, thanks to its Oriental, mystical sound.

Lyrics:

Most people live on a lonely island,
lost in the middle of a foggy sea
most people long for another island
one where they know they would like to be.

Bali Ha'i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart you'll hear it call you,
"Come away, come away . . ."

Bali Ha'i will whisper,
On the wind of the sea,
"Here am I your special island"
"Come to me, come to me . . ."

Your own special hopes,
Your own special dreams,
Bloom on the hillside,
And shine in the streams . . .

If you try you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea
Here am I your special island
Come to me, come to me . . .

Bali Ha'i
Bali Ha'i
Bali Ha'i

Someday you'll see me,
Floating in the sunshine,
My head sticking out from a low flying cloud . . .

You'll hear me call you,
Singing through the sunshine
Sweet and clear as can be . . .

"Come to me, here am I"
"Come to me"
"Come to me"

Bali Ha'i . . .

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Martin Denny
Stacey Kent
Tak Shindo
Perry Como

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Solitude

By Duke Ellington, Eddie DeLange & Irving Mills
1934

Few songs are as associated with Billie Holiday as this aching ballad of love in isolation, even though it was Ellington himself who introduced it. Perfectly suited to Lady Day's unique voice, this tune became an instant classic the moment she first recorded it in 1941. It has since become one of the all-time most revered jazz standards.

Lyrics:

In my solitude, you haunt me
With reveries of days gone by.
In my solitude, you taunt me
With memories that never die.

I sit in my chair,
Filled with despair.
Nobody could be so sad.
With gloom ev'rywhere,
I sit and I stare,
I know that I'll soon go mad.

In my solitude, I'm praying,
Dear Lord above, send back my love.

Recorded By:

Billy Eckstine
Ella Fitzgerald
Tony Bennett & Count Basie
Nina Simone
Aretha Franklin

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day In, Day Out

By Rube Bloom & Johnny Mercer
1939


Another example of Mercer's fantastic lyrics, taking a tired phrase and making it shine. The words go along with a gorgeous, soaring melody by Bloom which musicologist Alec Wilder rightly described as passionate yet unpretentious. The song was introduced by Bob Crosby's Orchestra (pictured), with Helen Ward on vocals. It was a popular song with the big bands which survived into the post-Big Band era as well.

Lyrics:

Day in - day out
That same old voodoo follows me about
That same old pounding in my heart, whenever I think of you
And baby I think of you
Day in and day out

Day out - day in
I needn't tell you how my days begin
When I awake I get up with a tingle
One possibility in view
That possibility of maybe seeing you

Come rain - come shine
I meet you and to me the day is fine
Then I kiss your lips, and the pounding becomes
An oceans roar, a thousand drums
Can't you see it's love, can there be any doubt
When there it is, day in - day out

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Judy Garland

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