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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reaching for the Moon

By Irving Berlin

We wrap up the week-long celebration of Irving Berlin's 125th birthday with this bonus post about a song he composed for a movie musical of the same name. At the time, musicals were temporarily out of favor, and most of Berlin's songs for the film were actually cut. This song, in fact, wound up only being used as background music, which is a shame. Ironically, it would become one of the biggest hits of the year, and was recorded by artists at every major record label.

Watch the film in its entirety below!


The moon and you appear to be
So near and yet so far from me
And here am I on a night in june
Reaching for the moon and you.

I wonder if we'll ever meet
My song of love is incomplete
I'm just the words, looking for the tune
Reaching for the moon and you. 

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Lizz Wright & Regina Carter
Holly Cole
Ruth Etting

Friday, September 28, 2012

Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning

By Irving Berlin

Perhaps the song most associated with Berlin as a performer. He composed this strictly for his own amusement, after being drafted into the Army near the end of World War I. The song was so popular with the men, however, that his commanding officer used it for fundraising purposes, and before the end of the year, it appeared in the Zeigfeld Follies. Berlin himself performed it during the next World War, in the 1943 film This Is the Army.


Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning,
Oh! How I'd love to remain in bed
For the hardest blow of all is to hear the bugler call:
'You've got to get up, you've got to get up,
You've got to get up this morning!'

Someday I'm going to murder the bugler
Someday they're going to find him dead
I'll amputate his reveille and stomp upon it heavily
And spend the rest of my life in bed!

A bugler in the army is the luckiest of men
He wakes the boys at five and then goes back to bed again
He doesn't have to blow again until the afternoon
If ev'rything goes well with me I'll be a bugler soon!

Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning,
Oh! How I'd love to remain in bed
For the hardest blow of all is to hear the bugler call:
'You've got to get up, you've got to get up,
You've got to get up this morning!'

Oh, boy! The minute the battle is over
Oh, boy! The minute the foe is dead
I'll put my uniform away and move to Philadelphia
And spend the rest of my life in bed!

Recorded By:

Arthur Fields
Alice Faye & Ethel Merman
Dick Robertson
Irving Berlin
Jessica Molaskey

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Let's Face the Music and Dance

By Irving Berlin

Berlin had a long-standing relationship with Fred Astaire, and wrote many of his songs specifically for him. In Follow the Fleet, Astaire introduced this Berlin classic, along with others such as "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket". A very sophisticated number for the often more populist Berlin, this one has really stood the test of time. It's been a favorite of cabaret singers for decades, and the Astaire version was even used in the film Pennies from Heaven, in which it was lip-synched by Steve Martin.


There may be trouble ahead
But while there's moonlight and music
And love and romance
Let's face the music and dance

Before the fiddlers have fled
Before they ask us to pay the bill
And while we still
Have the chance
Let's face the music and dance

We'll be without the moon
Humming a diff'rent tune
And then

There may be teardrops to shed
So while there's moonlight and music
And love and romance
Let's face the music and dance
Let's face the music and dance!

Recorded By:

Mel Torme
Frank Sinatra
Diana Krall
Doris Day
Nat King Cole

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Deep Is the Ocean?

By Irving Berlin

One of the rare Berlin tunes to debut on the radio and not on stage, this song was written at a particularly low point in the composer's personal and professional life, which may account for the bittersweet, melancholy yet hesitantly hopeful melody and lyric. It was introduced by the Paul Whiteman orchestra. I hope you enjoy it today, as our celebration of Berlin's 125th birthday continues...


How can I tell you what is in my heart?
How can I measure each and every part?
How can I tell you how much I love you?
How can I measure just how much I do?

How much do I love you?
I'll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Aretha Franklin
Ella Fitzgerald
Dexter Gordon
Eric Clapton

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anything You Can Do

By Irving Berlin

We continue the week-long 125th birthday celebration of Berlin with one of his most enduring hits, a classic number from Annie Get Your Gun (one of many!) Written as an ornery duet between Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton, it has lived on in countless versions over the years, ranging from Barbara Walters and Howard Cosell on SNL to Merman and Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show. Even rapper J. Cole used the famous opening verse in a recent recording. A truly transcendent example of the power of Berlin as a composer. Not just a duet, this is the duet.


Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.

No, you can't.
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!

Anything you can be
I can be greater.
Sooner or later,
I'm greater than you.

No, you're not. Yes, I am.
No, you're not. Yes, I am.
No, you're NOT!. Yes, I am.
Yes, I am!

I can shoot a partridge
With a single cartridge.
I can get a sparrow
With a bow and arrow.
I can live on bread and cheese.
And only on that?
So can a rat!
Any note you can reach
I can go higher.
I can sing anything
Higher than you.
No, you can't. (High)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I CAN! (Highest)

Anything you can buy
I can buy cheaper.
I can buy anything
Cheaper than you.

Fifty cents?
Forty cents! Thirty cents?
Twenty cents! No, you can't!
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!
Anything you can say
I can say softer.
I can say anything
Softer than you.
No, you can't. (Softly)
Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can't. (Softer)
Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can't. (Softer)
Yes, I can. (Softer)
YES, I CAN! (Full volume)
I can drink my liquor
Faster than a flicker.
I can drink it quicker
And get even sicker!
I can open any safe.
Without bein' caught?
That's what I thought--
you crook!
Any note you can hold
I can hold longer.
I can hold any note
Longer than you.

No, you can't.
Yes, I can No, you can't.
Yes, I can No, you can't.
Yes, I can
Yes, I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I No, you C-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-N'T--
CA-A-A-A-N! (Cough, cough!)
Yes, you ca-a-a-an!

Anything you can wear
I can wear better.
In what you wear
I'd look better than you.
In my coat?
In your vest! In my shoes?
In your hat! No, you can't!
Yes, I can
Yes, I CAN!
Anything you say
I can say faster.
I can say anything
Faster than you.
No, you can't. (Fast)
Yes, I can. (Faster) No, you can't. (Faster)
Yes, I can. (Faster) Noyoucan't. (Faster)
YesIcan! (Fastest)
I can jump a hurdle.
I can wear a girdle.
I can knit a sweater.
I can fill it better!
I can do most anything!
Can you bake a pie? No.
Neither can I.
Anything you can sing
I can sing sweeter.
I can sing anything
Sweeter than you.
No, you can't. (Sweetly)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't. (Sweeter)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't. (Sweeter)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't, can't, can't (sweeter)
Yes, I can, can, can (Sugary)

Yes, I can! No, you can't!

Recorded By:

Doris Day & Robert Goulet
Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney
Bernadette Peters & Tom Wopat
Mary Martin & John Raitt
Judy Garland & Howard Keel

Monday, September 24, 2012

After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It

By Irving Berlin

Yesterday marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Irving Berlin, and we're celebrating all week with spotlights on some of Berlin's most cherished tunes. This early smash hit for the Jewish-American songwriter was introduced by the popular vocal duo of Van & Schenck, whose recording spent six weeks at the number-two position on the charts. Just yesterday, on Berlin's 125th birthday, I picked up this record in an antique shop in its original 78 format, and it was a pleasure to listen to it at home in all its glory. You might also recognize this song from its use in the season 2 opener of HBO's Boardwalk Empire.


Listen to me, honey dear 
Something's wrong with you I fear
It's getting harder to please you 
Harder and harder each year 
I don't want to make you blue 
But you need a talking to 
Like a lot of people I know 
Here's what's wrong with you...

After you get what you want, you don't want it 
If I gave you the moon, you'd grow tired of it soon. 
You're like a baby 
You want what you want when you want it 
But after you are presented 
With what you want, you're discontented 

You're always wishing and wanting for something 
When you get what you want 
You don't want what you get 
And tho' I sit upon your knee 
You'll grow tired of me 
'Cause after you get what you want 
You don't want what you wanted at all!

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Marilyn Monroe
Red Nichols
Van & Schenck
Joyce Breach


Monday, September 17, 2012

When Did You Leave Heaven?

By Richard Whiting & Walter Bullock

A schmaltzy yet irresistible number from the 20th Century Fox musical Sing, Baby, Sing--in which it was introduced by the recently departed Tony Martin, making his film debut at the time. The song became an instant favorite of the big band orchestras of the day. In later decades, it became a lesser heard but beloved standard among a wide range of performers.


When did you leave Heaven?
How could they let you go?
How's ev'rything in Heaven?
I'd like to know.

Why did you trade Heaven
For all these earthly things?
Where did you hide your halo?
Where did you lose your wings?

Have they missed you?
Can you get back in?
If I kissed you,
Would it be a sin?

I am only human,
But you are so divine.
When did you leave Heaven,
Angel mine?
Recorded By: 
Guy Lombardo Orchestra
Joe Williams
Bob Dylan
Renee Fleming
Louis Armstrong

Friday, September 14, 2012

Azure Te

By Bill Davis & Don Wolf

A jazz gem that came along just as the new forms were emerging post World War II, including be bop and the nascent rhythm and blues that would lead to rock 'n roll. Wild Billy Davis was an innovative jazz pianist and organist who had done stints with the ensembles of Louis Jordan (pictured) and Duke Ellington among others, when he put this easy, supercool number together along with Don Wolf (who'd later contribute to the timeless early rock instrumental "Sleepwalk"). Jordan's band introduced the song.


Gone and got the blues in Paris  
Paris blues called Azure-Te  
How can I be blue in Paris?  
It's easy 'cause you're far away  
Can't lose these blues, this Azure-Te
Side-walk tables filled with people  

Always happy, always gay  
Still I'm all alone in Paris  
Praying you'll return someday  
Can't lose this blues, this Azure-Te
Montmartre, springtime, Eiffel Tower  

Funny taxis, the kids at play  
Paris without you is lonesome  
Yearning more and more each day  
Can't lose these blues, this Azure-Te
If you knew how much I need you  

You'd come back to me to stay  
Having you with me in Paris Really is the only way  
You lose these blues, this Azure-Te  
These Paris blues, this Azure-Te
Recorded By:
Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
George Shearing
Duke Ellington

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Look for the Silver Lining

By Jerome Kern & B.G DeSylva

Although originally written for the failed musical Zip Goes a Million, this charming early Jazz Age gem was revived in 1920 for the show Sally, in which it was properly introduced by Marilyn Miller. With a lilting melody and an uplifting lyric, it was a natural hit. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union would use it as the basis of their theme song, and it would later be embraced by modern TV viewers thanks to Chet Baker's rendition, which was often used as a theme on Turner Classic Movies.


As I wash my dishes, I'll be following a plan
Til I see the brightness in every pot and pan
I am sure this point of view will ease the daily grind
So I'll keep repeating in my mind:

Look for the silver lining
Whenever a cloud appears in the blue
Remember, somewhere the sun is shining
And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you

A heart, full of joy and gladness
Will always banish sadness and strife
So always look for the silver lining
And try to find the sunny side of life

Recorded By:

Chet Baker
Aretha Franklin
Susannah McCorkle
Margaret Whiting
Judy Garland

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