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Friday, July 19, 2019

You Oughta Be in Pictures

By Dana Suesse and Edward Heyman

An iconic anthem of show business in the same vein as "Hooray for Hollywood", this song was composed by prolific musical virtuoso Dana Suesse, one of the rare woman standouts of the songbook era, and a person referred to in the press of the time as "the girl Gershwin". She and accomplished lyricist Edward Heyman purportedly wrote the song for an unproduced Columbia Pictures film, New York Town, but it was instead introduced on record by the legendary Rudy Vallee, who made it an instant classic and one of the songs most evocative of the 1930s.

You oughta be in pictures, 
You're wonderful to see, 
You oughta be in pictures, 
Oh what a hit you would be!
Your voice would thrill a nation, 
Your face would be adored, 
You'd make a great sensation 
With wealth and fame your reward;

And if you should kiss the way you kiss, 
When we're alone, 
You'd make ev'ry girl and man 
A fan worshiping at your throne.
You oughta shine as brightly 
As Jupiter and Mars; 
You oughta be in pictures, 
My star of stars.

Recorded By:

Doris Day
The Boswell Sisters
Al Bowlly
Connie Francis
Joel Grey

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

By Jule Styne and Leo Robin

Although today connected permanently with Marilyn Monroe thanks to her performance in the 1953 film version of Gentleman Prefer Blondes, this playful number was introduced by Carol Channing, who played the original Lorelei Lee on stage in 1949. It later became a standard among female vocalists, and was even alluded to by Madonna in the music video for her 1984 hit, "Material Girl", and performed by Nicole Kidman in the 2001 musical, Moulin Rouge.

The French are glad to die for love,
They delight in fighting duels,
But I prefer a man who lives and gives Expensive jewels.
A kiss on the hand maybe quite continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
A kiss may be grand.. but it won't pay the rental on your humble flat
Or help you at the automat
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square cut or pear shape these rocks don't lose there shape 
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
... Tiffany's! ... Cartiea! Black, Starr, Frost Gorham
Talk to me Harry Winston tell me all about it!
There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
There may come a time when a hard boiled employer thinks you're awful nice
But get that ice or else no dice
He's your guy when stocks are high but beware when they start to descend
Because that's when those louses go back to their spouses
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
I've heard of affairs that are strictly platonic
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
And I think affairs that you must keep the masonic are better bets
If little girls get big bagettes
Time rolls on and youth is gone and you can't straighten up when you bend
But stiff back or stiff knees you stand straight at.. Tiffany's...
diamonds... diamonds... I don't mean rhinestones.. but diamonds... are a girls best... best friend.
Recorded By:

Lena Horne
Jo Stafford
Julie London
Eartha Kitt
Ethel Merman

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April in Paris

By Vernon Duke and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg

Once referred to by renowned composer and music scholar Alec Wilder as the "perfect theater song," this sweeping, evocative number was written by Duke and frequent Harold Arlen collaborator Harburg for the stage production Walk a Little Faster, and introduced in a hit recording by Freddy Martin. Perhaps the most well-known recording would be Count Basie's jazzy rendition, typified by trumpeter Thad Jones' unforgettable solo and the Count's exhortations to his band of "one more time" and "one more once!" Basie's version was also memorably featured in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles.

April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
No one can ever reprise

I never knew the charm of spring
Never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
Never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart?
Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Billie Holiday
Thelonious Monk
Dinah Shore

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Shadow of Your Smile

By Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster

One of the last of the great Academy Award winning movie songs of the traditional "songbook" era, this instant classic by arranger/bandleader Mandel and prolific lyricist Webster also won the Grammy for Song of the Year. Introduced in the Liz Taylor/Richard Burton film The Sandpiper by Mandel's orchestra, it was first recorded lyrically by singer Astrud Gilberto. Following the film, there was an explosion of recordings of the song throughout the late 1960s, with many artists of the old-school, lost in the burgeoning rock and roll era, latching on to it for its melodic beauty and poignant words. The one to be most successful with it at the time was Tony Bennett. Today, it remains a popular selection among instrumental groups and jazz bands, and was even recorded in 1992 by British actor Ian McShane.


One day we walked along the sand
One day in early spring
You held a piper in your hand
To mend its broken wing
Now I'll remember many a day
And many a lonely mile
The echo of a piper's song
The shadow of a smile
The shadow of your smile
When you are gone
Will color all my dreams
And light the dawn
Look into my eyes
My love and see
All the lovely things
You are to me
Our wistful little star
Was far too high
A teardrop kissed your lips
And so did I
Now when I remember spring
All the joy that love can bring
I will be remembering
The shadow of your smile

Recorded By:

Peggy Lee
Ray Conniff
Sammy Davis Jr. & Laurindo Almeida
Ferrante & Teicher
Barbra Streisand

Monday, March 4, 2019

Like Young

By Andre Previn and Paul Francis Webster

Last Thursday, February 28, we lost the brilliant Andre Previn, celebrated classical and jazz composer, musician and conductor. A man of many talents, Previn even dabbled in pop music, and today we spotlight what might be his best and most memorable pop song, written with lyrics by Paul Webster, the Oscar-winning lyricist of "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing", "Secret Love" and "The Shadow of Your Smile". Both the melody and lyrics were emblematic of the beat generation culture of the 1950s, with Webster's words in particular glorifying that lifestyle, complete with hipster slang. Previn himself introduced the song on record with a piano instrumental accompanied by the David Rose Orchestra that was nominated for the Best Record Grammy, losing to Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife".

I'm out doin' the usual places
And I'm livin' it, like young
Then I dig me this face of all faces
He's the craziest, like young
He drinks coffee at Cafe Espresso
He reads Kerouac, like young
He goes where all the angry young men go
Recites poetry, like young
We start blowin' the pad around lovin'
And we're homin' it, like now
We spin records on cloud number seven
And he's reachin' me, like wow
I'm all unstrung 'cause, man
He's got me feelin' like young
If he were to brush me and go
I'm starting to wear my hair again
Like a square again
I keep gettin' the kookiest notion
I think maybe it's like love
I've been feelin' a crazy emotion
I think, baby, it's like love
Now we're ridin' a rainbow to Cloudsville
And we're makin' it like young
Love soft as April snow
Love warm as candle glow
Love, love is easy to go
I'm all unstrung 'cause, man
He's got me feelin' like young
Without him I'm no good at all
Without him I'm less than a decimal
I keep gettin' the kookiest notion
I think maybe it's like love
I've been feelin' a crazy emotion
I think, baby, it's like love
Now we're ridin' a rainbow to Cloudsville or Wowsville
We're makin' it, makin' it like, like, like young
Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Martin Denny
Perry Como
Henry Mancini
Buddy Greco

Monday, February 25, 2019

Lullaby of Broadway

Harry Warren and his Oscar
By Harry Warren and Al Dubin

In light of last night's Academy Awards, today we're taking a look at the second tune to ever win the Oscar for Best Original Song (the first being "The Continental" in 1934). Introduced by Wini Shaw in Gold Diggers of 1935, "Lullaby of Broadway" was such an instant classic that later it was even used as background music in the Bette Davis film, Special Agent. With a peppy melody and lyrics that celebrate the wild Broadway nightlife, it's no wonder it captured the attention of Academy voters--even if Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" may have been the more deserving nominee that year...


Come on along and listen to
The lullaby of Broadway
The hip hooray and ballyhoo
The lullaby of Broadway
The rumble of a subway train
The rattle of the taxis
The daffodils who entertain
At Angelo's and Maxi's
When a Broadway baby says good night
It's early in the morning
Manhattan babies don't sleep tight
Until the dawn
Good night, baby
Good night, the milkman's on his way
Sleep tight, baby
Sleep tight, let's call it a day
The band begins to go to town
And everyone goes crazy
You rock a bye your baby round
'Til everything gets hazy
Hush a bye, I'll buy you this and that
You hear a daddy saying
And baby goes home to her flat
To sleep all day
Good night, baby
Good night, the milkman's on his way
Sleep tight, baby
Sleep tight, let's call it a day
Listen to the lullaby 
Of old Broadway!

Recorded By:

Tony Bennett
Ella Fitzgerald
Bette Midler
The Andrew Sisters
Doris Day

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii

By Johnny Noble, Bill Cogswell and Tommy Harrison

A classic example of the hapa haole song genre that combines American jazz style and Hawaiian instrumentation, this wonderful song epitomized the Hawaiian music and cultural craze that gripped America during much of the early 20th century. The original melody and lyrics were written by American transplants Cogswell and Harrison as a parody of the 1924 song, "Back in Hackensack, New Jersey", intended to be used for the Kona Independence Day celebration of 1933. Popular Hawaii-based bandleader Johnny Noble further adapted it to make it distinct from "Hackensack", and it became a runaway hit with tourists and natives alike. It was introduced on record by the Noelani Hawaiian Orchestra, but it was Ted Fio Rito's version that rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts for 14 week in early 1934. To this day, it can be heard in many movies and TV shows as an instant evocation of the beautiful 50th state.


I want to go back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii
I want to be with all the kanes and wahines that I knew long ago
I can hear old guitars a playing, on the beach at Hoonaunau
I can hear the Hawaiians saying "Komomai no kaua ika hale welakahao"

It won't be long 'til my ship will be sailing back to Kona
A grand old place that's always fair to see
I'm just a little Hawaiian and a homeside Island boy
I want to go back to my fish and poi
I want to go back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii
Where the Humuhumu, Nukunuku a puaa goes swimming by
Where the Humuhumu, Nukunuku a puaa goes swimming by!

Recorded By:

Martin Denny
Les Paul and Mary Ford
Bing Crosby
Leon Redbone and Ringo Starr
Lisa Loeb

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Love Bug Will Bite You

By Pinky Tomlin

A somewhat obscure chestnut of the late 1930s, it nonetheless enjoyed a brief moment in the sun soon after being written by musician and actor Pinky Tomlin (pictured), also responsible for the similarly infectious "The Object of My Affection". Introduced by the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra, it might best be remembered today for being included in the Little Rascals short "Our Gang Follies of 1938", in which it's sung by Darla Hood. In the 1990s, it was even adapted into Norwegian by the a cappella group Bjelleklang.


The love bug will bite you if you don't watch out
If he ever bites you, then you'll sing and shout
You'll go (da-dee-da-dee-da-dee da and whoa dee doe dee doe)
That's what love is all about
You can't eat, you can't sleep, you'll go crazy
You'll just la dee da dee la all day
If someone wants to know why you're crazy 
You'll answer (da da da doo with a ho ho hay-hay)
The love bug will bite you if you don't watch out
If he ever bites you, then you'll sing and shout
You'll go (da-dee-da-dee-da-dee da and whoa dee doe dee doe)
That's what love is all about

Recorded By:

The Mills Brothers
Fats Waller
Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians
Teddy Hill
Vera Lynn

Monday, February 11, 2019

We're in the Money (The Gold Diggers' Song)

By Harry Warren and Al Dubin

What became an anthem of the Great Depression was written as a song of hope by the legendary team of Warren & Dubin, signaling a wished-for end to the economic catastrophe, even though that was still years away. Written for the film Gold Diggers of 1933, in which it was introduced by Ginger Rogers, the song had its first commercial release simultaneously, in a recording by Art Kahn and his Orchestra. With a most recognizable and catchy tune, it soon started popping up everywhere, including a 1933 Warner Bros. cartoon of the same name.


We're in the money, we're in the money;
We've got a lot of what it takes to get along!
We're in the money, that sky is sunny,
Old Man Depression you are through, you done us wrong.
We never see a headline about breadlines today.
And when we see the landlord we can look that guy right in the eye
We're in the money, come on, my honey,
Let's lend it, spend it, send it rolling along!

Recorded By:

Bing Crosby
Dick Powell
Connie Francis
Jessica Molaskey
Dick Hyman Trio

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

How Do You Keep the Music Playing?

By Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman and Marylin Bergman

In honor of the recent passing of both composer Michel Legrand and vocalist (and songwriter) James Ingram, I'm spotlighting the most "recent" song ever featured on Standard of the Day so far. The song, composed by Legrand with lyrics by the Bergmans, was introduced by Ingram and Patti Austin for the soundtrack of the Burt Reynolds/Goldie Hawn romantic comedy Best Friends. The original recording became a hit on the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts in 1983, and soon became a modern-day standard when it was snatched up by many an old-school performer thanks to its gorgeous melody and wistful lyric. Among them was Sinatra, who recorded it for his 1984 album L.A. Is My Lady, and Tony Bennett, who continues to use it as a show-stopping number to this day.


How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last?
How do you keep the song from fading
Too fast?
How do you lose yourself to someone
And never lose your way?
How do you not run out of new things
To say?
And since you know we're always changing
How can it be the same?
And tell me how year after year
You're sure your heart won't fall apart
Each time you hear his name?
I know the way I feel for you is now or never
The more I love, the more that I'm afraid
That in your eyes I may not see forever, forever
If we can be the best of lovers
Yet be the best of friends
If we can try with every day to make it better as it grows
With any luck than I suppose
The music never ends

Recorded By:

Andy Williams
George Benson and Count Basie
Shirley Bassey
Johnny Mathis
Barbra Streisand

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Someone to Watch Over Me

By George and Ira Gershwin

For this, the momentous 500th post here at Standard of the Day, let's fondly recall one of the absolutely unparalleled gems of the Great American Songbook, from the incomparable brothers Gershwin. George originally envisioned the melody as uptempo, but after playing around with it, he thankfully realized it would work much better as a ballad (to say the least!) Ira's lyric is an anthem of longing and fragility, traditionally associated with a female voice ever since being introduced by Gertrude Lawrence in the Broadway musical, Oh, Kay!


There's a saying old, says that love is blind
Still we're often told, seek and ye shall find
So I'm going to seek a certain lad I've had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven't found him yet
He's the big affair I cannot forget
Only man I ever think of with regret
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb
There's a somebody I'm longin' to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me
I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood
I know I could, always be good
To one who'll watch over me
Although he may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key
Won't you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me.

Recorded By:
Frank Sinatra
Chris Connor
Sarah Vaughan
Sammy Davis Jr.
Ray Coniff

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Windmills of Your Mind

By Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman

In honor of the great composer Michel Legrand, who passed away last Saturday at the age of 86, I'm spotlighting the song that was perhaps rivaled only by "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" as his greatest hit. Written for the soundtrack of the Steve McQueen heist film The Thomas Crown Affair at the request of director Norman Jewison, it began life as a French song with lyrics by Eddy Marnay. Husband-wife lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman were brought in, and handpicked the haunting, circular melody from among Legrand's numerous compositions, adding lyrics meant to reflect the mental turmoil of the film's main character. Introduced in the movie by Noel Harrison, it won the Oscar for Best Original Song, and was performed by Sting for the 1999 Thomas Crown Affair remake.


Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Keys that jingle in your pocket, words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly, was it something that you said?
Lovers walking along a shore and leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway and the fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning to the color of her hair!

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find 
In the windmills of your mind!
Recorded By:
Jose Feliciano
Dusty Springfield
Vic Damone
Jack Jones
Petula Clark

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

By Ballard MacDonald and Harry Carroll

Having now seen the excellent Stan and Ollie for the second time, I'm in a Laurel and Hardy frame of mind, which brings me to this old chestnut identified closely with the boys thanks to the unforgettable performance of it in their 1937 classic Way Out West. By that point, however, the tune was already an oldie, having been inspired by the 1908 novel of the same name. The favorite song of poet Gertrude Stein, it was first recorded by Albert Campbell and Henry Burr. Thanks to an upsurge in Laurel and Hardy popularity in Britain during the 1970s, Stan and Ollie's version rocketed all the way to the #2 position on the UK singles chart in 1975.


On a mountain in Virginia stands a lonesome pine
Just below is the cabin home of a little girl of mine
Her name is June and very, very soon she'll belong to me
For I know she's waiting there for me neath that lone pine tree.

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
On the trail of the lonesome pine
In the pale moonshine our hearts entwine
Where you carved your name and I carved mine.

Oh, June - like the mountains, I'm blue
Like the pine - I am lonesome for you
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
On the trail of the lonesome pine.
Recorded By:
Manuel Romain
Edna Brown and James F. Harrison
The Dinning Sisters
Rex Allen
The Diamonds

Friday, January 25, 2019

Top Hat, White Tie and Tails

By Irving Berlin

For the fifth time here at Standard of the Day, I'm spotlighting a song from Irving Berlin's Top Hat--and if that's not a testament to the film's greatness, I don't know what is. This time it's the movie's title number, performed with gusto by Fred Astaire, as so many Berlin gems were. With its internal rhyme and clever wordplay, the lyric is one of Berlin's most memorable, and became an iconic theme for the legendary Astaire, greatest of the on-screen dancers and the man who wore the attire better than anybody.


I just got an invitation through the mails
"Your presence requested this evening
It's formal, a top hat, a white tie and tails"
Nothing now could take the wind out of my sails
Because I'm invited to step out this evening
With top hat and white tie and tails.
I'm puttin' on my top hat
Tyin' up my white tie
Brushin' off my tails
I'm dudin' up my shirt front
Puttin' in the shirt studs
Polishin' my nails
I'm steppin' out, my dear
To breathe an atmosphere 
That simply reeks with class
And I trust that you'll excuse my dust
When I step on the gas
For I'll be there
Puttin' down my top hat
Mussin' up my white tie
Dancin' in my tails!
Recorded By:
Louis Armstrong
Tony Bennett
Ella Fitzgerald
Mel Torme
The Boswell Sisters

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