ATTENTION! (Or, as the French say, ATTENTION!)*

*There is a pronounced difference.

 

It is said that youth must be served, but the extent of what this generation knows of music is such that 1920s-1940s popular music/classic jazz, and hence this post, might as well be in a foreign language. However, for those past being served by the myopic world of current culture, listen up! August 15 is one of those days of a convergence which doesn’t come along every day: it’s the birthday of no less than four Golden Age American songwriters, the titles of whose songs afford me a theme-opportunity beyond the happenstance of their birthdays-in-common.

All four (born on this date from 1892 to 1901) were prolific tunesmiths, but what caught my attention is that each wrote one song with a girl’s name in the title which, in two cases, became standards, and in all four cases, were big hits in their day. The writers: Harry Akst, Sidney Clare, Charles Tobias, and Ned Washington; the songs: DINAH, MISS ANNABELLE LEE, ROSE O’DAY and STELLA BY STARLIGHT.

Although none of these men’s fame survived their era, a number of their compositions did (or, as an Irving Berlin song title put it, The Song Is Ended, But The Melody Lingers On). One such ditty is DINAH, by Harry Akst,  a favorite of jazz musicians which has been recorded countless times since the 1920s. I like so many versions of this song that I couldn’t further narrow down this list if you Akst me to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhVdLd43bDI
(Louis Armstrong)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P0XQuOd5HI
(New Orleans Jazz Vipers)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlPLXNsz4GA
(Bing Crosby/Mills Bros.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdkvJQuj2co
(Fats Waller)

The next tune, by Sidney Clare, is a particular favorite of mine.Written in 1927, it was recorded by numerous jazz and dance bands and became a toe-tapping best seller in America and Europe. What’s not to like about her? She’s wonderful, she’s marvelous….MISS ANNABELLE LEE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqavTUwm7sM
(George Fisher Kit Cat Band)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj-nTjL_aTY
(Savoy Havana Band)

Next we have Charles Tobias’s ROSE O’DAY, the most lightweight of the four — due, not to diet, but to being a silly novelty song which nevertheless was one of 1941’s top hits:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkH-hmRFA_Y
(Dick Todd)

Last but not lightweight, there’s STELLA BY STARLIGHT, composed by Victor Young as the theme for the 1944 film “The Uninvited,” with lyrics added by Ned Washington in 1946. This beautiful standard has been recorded by dozens of artists, including the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwSaY1oSCw4
(Billy Eckstein)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UZ0xqdP2rw
(Anita O’Day)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P94vB3mLRzc
(Frank Sinatra)

That’s all. AS YOU WERE (if you’ve ever been in the military, you know what that means).