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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Lady Is a Tramp

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1937

Just this past Saturday, I'm proud to say that Standard of the Day celebrated its fourth birthday. In honor of this event, tonight I'm presenting what is truly one of the most recognizable and beloved (not to mention gorgeous) standards of all time. Rodgers & Hart composed the tune for their stage musical Babes in Arms, in which it was introduced by Mitzi Green. Hart's lyrics in particular are quite clever and have led to much speculation--they're basically a cheeky lampoon of New York society, about a woman rejected because she refuses to adhere to their mores.

The song is absolutely timeless, and has become one of the most recorded ever. Specifically, Frank Sinatra made it one of his signature tunes thanks to his performance of it in the 1950s film version of Pal Joey. Many others have made it their own as well, as recently as the high-profile duet of Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga.

Lyrics:

She gets too hungry for dinner at eight,
She loves the theater but she never comes late.  
She never bothers with people she'd hate, 
That's why the lady is a tramp.
 
She doesn't like crap games with barons and earls, 

Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
She won't dish the dirt with the rest of those girls. 
That's why the lady is a tramp!
 
She loves the free, fresh wind in her hair, 

Life without care  
She's broke, but it's oke!  
She hates California, it's crowded and damp, 
That's why the lady is a tramp!
 
She goes to Coney, the beach is divine.

She loves the Yankees, and the bleachers are fine, 
She follows Winchell, and reads every line, 
That's why the lady is a tramp! 

She loves a prize fight that isn't a fake,  
She loves to go rowing on Central Park Lake, 
She goes to the opera and stays wide awake,
That's why the lady is a tramp!
 
She likes the green grass under her shoes,

What can she lose?  
No dough! Oh, no! 
She's all alone when she lowers her lamp, 
That's why the lady is a tramp!

Recorded By:

Buddy Greco
Lena Horne
Tommy Dorsey
Ella Fitzgerald
Shirley Bassey

Though tempted to include the Sinatra Pal Joey footage, in honor of SOTD's fourth birthday, I give you my own daughter Layla's impromptu rendition of the song from March 2011 (she was 9 at the time)...
video



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hit That Jive, Jack

By John Alston & Skeets Tolbert
1940

A red-hot little jazz number of the 1940s that continues to live on with hepcats everywhere to this day. Tolbert introduced it with his relatively obscure jazz ensemble, but it was with the Nat Cole Trio the following year that it got sent into the stratosphere. In recent years, it has become a very popular number with throwback hot jazz acts.

Happy 8th Birthday to my son--Hit that jive, Jack!

Lyrics:

Hit that jive Jack 
Put it in your pocket till I get back  
Going downtown to see a man  
And I ain't got time to shake your hand
 
Hit that jive Jack  

Put it in your pocket till I get back  
Time and time waits for no man  
And I ain't got time to shake your hand
 
Standing on a corner  

All full of jive  
But you know that you're my boy  
So I'm forced to give you five
 
Hit that jive Jack  

Put it in your pocket till I get back  
Going downtown to see a man  
And I ain't got time to shake your hand

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Diana Krall
John Pizzarelli
Joe Carroll
Boyd Bennett

Monday, July 16, 2012

Till There Was You

By Meredith Wilson
1957

Written for the Broadway musical The Music Man, this catchy and melodic tune was sung on stage by Barbara Cook. However, it would actually be introduced on record one month prior to the show's December 1957 opening, when Nelson Riddle's orchestra recorded it with singer Sue Raney. Peggy Lee made the song a hit in the UK in 1961, leading to a bunch of kids known as The Beatles adding it to their early repertoire. It would appear on the Fab Four's 1962 album With the Beatles, and remains the only standard the group ever recorded.

Lyrics:

There were bells on the hill

But I never heard them ringing,
No, I never heard them at all
Till there was you.

There were birds in the sky
But I never saw them winging
No, I never saw them at all
Till there was you.

And there was music,
And there were wonderful roses,
They tell me,
In sweet fragrant meadows of dawn, and dew.

There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No, I never heard it at all
Till there was you!

Recorded By:

Shirley Jones
Anita Bryant
Sonny Rollins
Sergio Franchi
Fran Warren

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mary Is a Grand Old Name

By George M. Cohan
1906

Cohan--by far the most dominant figure in American songwriting just prior to the dawn of the golden era of the Great American Songbook--composed this sweet, lyrical song for his famous musical Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway, in which it was introduced by the preeminent starlet of the stage, Faye Templeton. Some have speculated that he wrote it for his second wife, whose middle name was Mary. However, it's worth noting that at the time he wrote it, he was still one year away from divorcing his first wife... Cohan had a daughter in 1909, and named her Mary.

Lyrics:

For it is Mary; Mary

Plain as any name can be
But with propriety, society
Will say, "Marie"

But it was Mary; Mary
Long before the fashions came
And there is something there
That sounds so square
It's a grand old name.

Recorded By:

George M. Cohan
Bing Crosby
James Cagney
Glen Daly
Allen Dale

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America the Beautiful

By Samuel A. Ward & Katharine Lee Bates
1910

An extremely popular song of American patriotism--so much so that it has often been suggested as a replacement for the more cumbersome "Star-Spangled Banner" as the national anthem of the U.S.A. It began life as a poem called "Pike's Peak", written by Bates and published on July 4, 1895 in the periodical The Congregationalist (it was published under the title "America"). The poem became quite popular, and in 1910 was combined with a melody written by church organist Ward--written in 1882 and published in 1892 as "Materna", part of the hymn "O Mother Dear, Jerusalem". It was introduced on record in 1910 by Louise Homer, and by far the most popular and inspirational version of modern times would have to be the amazing rendition of Ray Charles.

With words specifically written to commemorate the Fourth of July, this is the perfect tune for enjoying this blessed holiday. Happy Independence Day from Standard of the Day!

Lyrics:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov'd,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
Recorded By:

Ray Charles
Elvis Presley
Whitney Houston
Barbra Streisand
Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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