HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE: END OF THE TRAIL

Just as all good things must come to an end, so too must all bad things (even Trump’s evil rule will run out of recourse eventually — e.g., the fat lady’s last aria at the opera seems to go on forever; will it end short of becoming a hoarse opera?). What it all a-mounts to is….

Meanwhile, back at the ranch , we bid happy trails to “bad” actors not named Trump, and end our HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE series with a roundup of some of the era’s great song & dance stars, starting with this incomparable pair whose magic outlasted their time:

When it comes to high-energy dancing, no one outshined Gene Kelly. Here he is in THE PIRATE (1948), clowning around with the fabulous Nicholas Brothers:

I do have one regret about this retrospective: so many musical stars, so little time and wherewithal for them all. Perhaps, as time goes by, I will use a favorite star’s birthday as an occasion to do an occasional post.

In closing (speaking of when A STAR IS BORN), if ever someone was born to be one, it’s this star-crossed girl/woman with whom we bring down the curtain on this series:

SONG SMITHS

By all accounts, SMITH has long been the most common surname in America. On the other hand, SMITH has been one of the least common surnames among popular songwriters. Take the example of when, in 1939, Mr. Jimmy Stewart Smith goes to Washington and becomes a sen-sation, rather than going to Tin Pan Alley to become a song-sation. We can surmise why mistermuse goes to Word Press in 2009 but doesn’t become a pun-sation; misterstewartsmith could’ve had A Wonderful Life acting like a songwriter in Hollywood musicals.

During the period with which I am most musically in tune (1920s-1950s), I can count on one hand the number of songsmiths named Smith whose compositions achieved contemporary hit status (much less, lasting status as standards). Compared to the percentage of Smiths in the overall (or, for that matter, the underwear) population, there were fewer Smiths of note in music than in the Hollywood Senate — which, for better or verse, leads us to the first of our handful of Smiths, Chris Smith, composer of….

Next, time to rise and shine with Billy Dawn Smith, composer of….

Next next, we turn to lyricist Harry Bache Smith for the words to this somber classic:

Speaking of serious stuff, Stuff Smith composed this wonderful ballad. It may not be your cup of tea, but I can say without fear of contradiction that It’s Wonderful:

We close with a song written by Dick Smith. Yes, THAT Dick Smith. If you don’t believe me, look him up and ask him.

 

 

“IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE, PLAY ON”

No doubt, the above words are familiar to you, but do you remember who penned them? If not, may I suggest that you….

Friends, Romans, countrymen: now that your Shakespeare is refreshed, are you in the mood for some food music? If so, let’s meat our next song:

No potatoes? That will never do, especially if you’re short of moolah and longing for love….

That’s all for now. If you didn’t dig the chow, don’t have a cow. I love you anyhow.

JUST BECAUSE

Four days after RIDE THE WIND DAY comes JUST BECAUSE DAY. Because Aug. 27 is JUST BECAUSE DAY — and because some solid* would-be-gone-with-the wind songs didn’t make my RIDE THE WIND DAY post — today conveniently provides an excuse to rewind and take up where I left off. As it happens, I have just the appropriate song:

Of all the wind songs I failed to include in my last post, perhaps I blew it the most with….

If you’re feeling a bit low from on high,
don’t end up on the downside like this guy….

Be like Ella. Tell a fella….

*Swing era slang for great, wonderful, sensational, far-out

 

LAZY DAY STRAINS

strain, to use to the utmost; damage or weaken by too much tension, pressure, or force
strains,
 a part of a piece of music; melody; song; tune  –The World Book Dictionary

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

August 10 is LAZY DAY. Don’t ask me who the originator is, or why LAZY DAY is on this particular day — today, I is too lazy to care. All I know is, it’s a good day to post a post over which I’ve pondered as poco* as possible. Mind you, when your brain avoids work as strenuously as mine strains to avoid strain, it deserves arrest — correction: a rest.

Thus, I bid you adieu without further ado (except for a tune or two), and leave the rest to You(tube).

Here, Hoagy Carmichael sings a song he wrote, as another guy tries to keep a level head:

Thank you, friends, for that tremendous ovalation**– that calls for a curtain call. So, what’s got me in a lazy mood? FOREWARNING: the answer is a four-letter word (not counting a ‘postrophe s):

*poco: Spanish for little (as in a poco loco in the coco).
**ovalation: an ovation during which a round of applause takes on an oval shape

MEMORIES OF SATCHMO (Aug. 4, 1901-July 6, 1971)

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” –Louis (“Satchmo”) Armstrong

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Awake at night, at sunrise, every sunset too, seems to be bringing me….

But that was long ago, and now my consolation is in the….

My only sin is in my skin — what did I do to be so….

In contrast to our current culture of celebrity-for-celebrity’s-sake, today we celebrate the memory of a man who was the genuine article: a true game-changer, unsurpassed in the history of America’s contribution to the music world, namely jazz. To quote Scott Yanow, author of CLASSIC JAZZ:

Although jazz existed before Louis Armstrong (including important giants Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Freddie Keppard, Sidney Bechet, and King Oliver), Armstrong had the biggest impact of any jazz musician. Whether it was transforming jazz from an ensemble-oriented music into one showcasing solos by virtuosos, popularizing both scat singing and hornlike vocalizing, infusing pop songs with the blues, making dramatic statements with the inventive use of silence and dynamics, and (via his sunny personality) making jazz accessible to millions who had never heard it before, Armstrong’s contributions are so vast [that] jazz would have been a lot different if he had not existed.

To help the reader (who isn’t a jazz buff or remembers only the past-his-prime Armstrong) understand something of the impact of the early Armstrong, I’ll close with this 1928 recording — his favorite (and mine) of his own playing:

There, brethren, you have the earthly counterpart of The Rapture enrapturing you from the West End of jazz heaven. May you abandon yourself to the American Gabriel’s clarion call as his golden trumpet leads you to Blues paradise. Or just enjoy.

 

 

 

GOOD-BY, JU-LY

I don’t know about the weather where you are, but one state north of me, in the town of Hell, Michigan, I hear July has been….

So, when it’s hotter than ‘ell in Hell, I say it’s time to say good-by to July, and good riddance. As I (would like to) tell my visiting in-laws, come back again when you can’t stay so long. Today, as July leaves, I leave you with some hot jokes to remember me by until my next post….and remember, don’t blame the muse-enger for the clinkers. Acting as a muse meant for amusement, mistermuse mooched most of ’em, thus no funny-back guarantees.

How hot is it?
So hot, the birds are using potholders to pull worms out of the ground.

How do you make holy water?
Boil the hell out of it.

What did one pig say to the other in a steamy pigpen?
I’m bacon.

How hot is it?
So hot, the chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs.

What happened when Mr. White bought a loaf of bread at the store?
By the time he got home, White’s bread was toast.

How hot is it?
So hot, when I spilled ice water on my computer, it begged for more.

Somehow, I have a funny feeling it’s gonna be a while before my next post.