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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart

By James F. Hanley
1934

From the Broadway revue Thumbs Up! comes this irresistible tune originally introduced by Hal Le Roy and Eunice Healey. The most famous recording would have to be the one made by Judy Garland, who made it one of her signature songs. Interestingly enough, Frank Sinatra recorded it for his 1960 album Ring-a-Ding-Ding!, but the recording was cut because the tempo didn't match the rest of the tracks. It was finally released on a deluxe CD box set decades later.

Lyrics:

Never could carry a tune, never knew where to start
You came along when everything was wrong and put a song in my heart

Dear when you smiled at me, I heard a melody
It haunted me from the start
Something inside of me started a symphony
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

'Twas like a breath of spring, I heard a robin sing
About a nest set apart
All nature seemed to be in perfect harmony
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

Your eyes made skies seem blue again
What else could I do again
But keep repeating through and through
"I love you, love you"

I still recall the thrill, guess I always will
I hope 'twill never depart
Dear, with your lips to mine, a rhapsody devine
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

Recorded By:

The Trammps
The Coasters
Billy Eckstine
Chet Baker
June Christy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some Enchanted Evening

By Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
1949

One of the most recognized of all Rodgers & Hammerstein compositions, it was introduced in the classic musical South Pacific by Italian operatic bass Ezio Pinza, who became a mainstream American favorite because of it. Hammerstein's lyric expresses a carpe diem attitude through a series of action verbs, and Rodgers melody is gorgeous as usual. A touch on the schmaltzy side, but then again, that's Rodgers & Hammerstein, after all.

Lyrics:

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.

Some enchanted evening
Someone may be laughin',
You may hear her laughin'
Across a crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of her laughter
Will sing in your dreams.

Who can explain it?
Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons,
Wise men never try.

Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own
Or all through your life you
May dream all alone.

Once you have found her,
Never let her go.
Once you have found her,
Never let her go!

Recorded By:

Perry Como
Frank Sinatra
Jo Stafford
Bing Crosby
Al Jolson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Yours

By Johnny Green & E.Y. "Yip" Harburg
1930

For the 400th post here at Standard of the Day, I give you this warm and innocent ballad, written by one-time Ethel Merman accompanist, bandleader and pianist Johnny Winter (pictured), who dedicated it to his wife Bonnie. His lyricist was long-time Harold Arlen collaborator E.Y. Harburg. Green is best known for "Body Soul", which along with this song was one of his first two compositions, written at age 22 after deciding to disobey his father, drop out of military school and pursue music. It was introduced by the great Ruth Etting.

Lyrics:

Ask the sky above
And ask the earth below
Why I'm so in love
And why I love you so
Couldn't tell you though I tried do
Just why I'm yours.

When you went away
You left a glowing spark
Trying to be gay as
Whistling in the dark
I am only what you make me
Come take me
I'm yours

How can I happy
I would be to beg or borrow
For sorrow
With you
Even though I knew
Tomorrow
You'd say we were through.

If we drift apart
Then I'll be lost and alone
Though you use my heart
Just for a steppin' stone
How can I help dreaming of you
I love you
I'm yours

Recorded By:

Ruth Etting
Billie Holiday
Bert Lown Orchestra
Artie Shaw Orchestra
Dean Martin

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Is This Thing Called Love?

By Cole Porter
1929

A mournful dirge by the great Porter for the musical Wake Up and Dream, in which it was introduced in London by Elsie Carlisle (pictured). Porter was known for his bouncy, light-hearted highs and desolate lows. This would be an example of the latter, and its soulful, introspective nature made it a natural for the jazz artists who discovered it in the 1930s and beyond. In fact, several jazz compositions, including "Fifth House" by John Coltrane and "Barry's Bop" by Fats Navarro, are based on the chord structure of this song.

Lyrics:

I was a humdrum person,
Leading a life apart.
When love flew in through my window wide,
And quickened my humdrum heart.

Love flew in through my window,
I was so happy then.
But after love had stayed a little while,
Love flew out again.

What is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?

I saw you there one wonderful day.
You took my heart, and threw it away.
That's why I ask the Lord in heaven above,
What is this thing called love?

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald
Bill Evans
Coleman Hawkins

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Georgia on My Mind

By Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell
1930

One of the pillars of the Great American Songbook, penned by one of its most underrated tunesmiths. Writing primarily for Tin Pan Alley and not the stage, Carmichael was often looked down upon in comparison to other songwriters, but this and "Stardust" are not only his unquestioned masterpieces, they are two of the finest pieces of popular music ever created. Hoagy himself introduced the song on record, accompanied by legendary cornet player Bix Beiderbecke in what would be Bix's final recording session. Today, it is most associated with the Ray Charles rendition, recorded some 30 years later.

* This post is dedicated to Standard of the Day supporter Judy Segor.

Lyrics:

Georgia, Georgia,
The whole day through.
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia,
The song of you
Come as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines.

Other arms reach out to me,
Others eyes smile tenderly.
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you.

Georgia, Georgia,
No peace I find.
Just an old sweet song,
Keeps Georgia on my mind.

Recorded By:

Ray Charles
Willie Nelson
Lou Rawls
Anita O'Day
Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Alright With Me

By Cole Porter
1953

One of the very most sophisticated compositions by the songbook's most sophisticated composer. This gem was written for Porter's 1953 musical Can-Can, in which it was introduced by Peter Cookson. Porter's melody line virtually embodies a combination of smoldering longing and wistful regret, as the lyric expresses the subject's acceptance of his attraction to the object of his desire, even though he admits that he is still in love with someone else. A complex and beautiful song.

Lyrics:

It's the wrong time and the wrong place
Though your face is charming, it's the wrong face
It's not her face, but such a charming face
And it's alright with me

It's the wrong song with the wrong style
Though your smile is lovely, it's the wrong smile
It's not her smile, but such a lovely smile
That it's alright with me

You can't know how happy I am we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you wanna forget someone too

It's the wrong game with the wrong chips
Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips
They're not her lips, but they're such tempting lips
That it's all right with me

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Tom Waits
Mel Torme
Erroll Garner

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Always True to You in My Fashion

By Cole Porter
1948

Perhaps one of the master's greatest and cleverest compositions, with a lyric that never ceases to elicit amusement and exude effortless charm. It was written for Porter's celebrated musical Kiss Me, Kate, in which it was introduced by Broadway standout Lisa Kirk. The combination of sophistication and underlying naughtiness is the epitome of Porter's body of work.

Lyrics (extended stage version):

Oh, Bill
Why can't you behave
Why can't you behave?
How in hell can you be jealous
When you know, baby, I'm your slave?
I'm just mad for you
And I'll always be
But naturally.....

If a custom-tailored vet
Asks me out for something wet
When the vet begins to pet, I cry "hooray!"
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

I enjoy a tender pass
By the boss of Boston, Mass
Though his pass is middle-class and not Backa Bay
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's a madman known as Mack
Who is planning to attack
If his mad attack means a Cadillac, okay!
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

I've been asked to have a meal
By a big tycoon in steel
If the meal includes a deal, accept I may
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, Darlin' in my way

I could never curl my lip
To a dazzlin' diamond clip
Though the clip meant "Let 'er rip", I'd not say "Nay!"
But I'm always true to to you, darlin, in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's an oil man known as "Tex"
Who is keen to give me checks
And his checks, I fear, mean that sex is here to stay!
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's a wealthy Hindu priest
Who's a wolf, to say the least
When the priest goes too far East, I also stray
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin'in my way

There's a lush from Portland, Ore
Who is rich but such a bore
When the bore falls on the floor, I let him lay
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin',in my way

Mister Harris, plutocrat
Wants to give my cheek a pat
If the Harris pat means a Paris hat, Bébé, Oo-la-la!
Mais je suis toujours fidele, darlin', in my fashion
Oui, je suis toujours fidele, darlin', in my way

From Ohio, Mister Thorne
Calls me up from night 'til morn
Mister Thorne once corner'd corn and that ain't hay
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

From Milwaukee, Mister Fritz
Often moves me to the Ritz
Mister Fritz is full of Schlitz and full of play
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

Mister Gable, I mean Clark
Wants me on his boat to park
If the Gable boat means a sable coat, anchors aweigh!
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

Recorded By:

Blossom Dearie
Ella Fitzgerald
Della Reese
Eartha Kitt
Peggy Lee & George Shearing

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