POST TIME

When last we met on June 30, I left open whether my future posts would be on an every-ten-days schedule or on a when-the-spirit-moves-me non-schedule. Seeing as how most of us live in a democracy (not to be confused with a demagogracy?), I decided to put the matter to a secret vote. My fellow Americans, base supporters, and gulliblites everywhere, I hereby and now and forever proclaim that the outcome is in!

Yes, friends, the results are in, and doubtless you are on tenterhooks, dying to learn the winner — as well you should be — but kindly hang in there. After all, I’m trying to build up a little suspense here.

DRUM R-O-L-L, please. It is my dis-stinked honor and privilege to announce that 100% of the eligible voters, consisting of me, myself and I (in cahoots with Charlie Barnowl — who? — let’s stop for a spell: it’s Barnet), have opted to vote for….

I confess that Barnet, being deceased, could vote in spirit only. But spirits are flighty, to say the least. Will the spirit stick around, pushing me to act when inspiration is at a peak to post? Other-wise, my frequency of posting will most likely depend on….

However, if my mood is down in the dumps, that doesn’t mean I can’t soar. You see, although I brook no Prohibition on drowning my sorrows — easy for me (not to mention myself & I) to speak — there are times….

Until next time, then — whenever that may be (ye know not the day or the hour) — me leaves myself and I with this reminder:

“The higher a drunk feels in the evening, the lower he feels in the morning.” –Evan Esar

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

Advertisements

IT’S RAINING MUSIC, SON

He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade stand. –Elbert Hubbard, American author and philosopher, 1915

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

Man can indeed make lemonade out of lemons, but is just as prone to do the reverse — for example, when a relationship turns sour. Such is life, my son. Wait a minute….I don’t have a son. Anyway — whoever you are, nowhere is love-gone-wrong more poignantly expressed than in rainy regrets captured in song, as rendered here by three of the most expressive singers in popular music history:

In my previous post last week, I might have asked Mother Nature this question:

Finally, it is right as the rain that the last of our three songs be sung by the one and only Ella Fitzgerald, who was born on this day (April 25, 1918):

NOTE: Stormy Weather was composed by Harold Arlen, who also composed the 1944 show tune Right as the Rain and many other all-time standards.

FOR YOU, MORE HUMOR

N’yuk-n’yuk-n’yuk! –Curly Howard, The Three Stooges

April being NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH, I thought I’d humor you with humor-us woids of wisdom from some of my favorite humor-ists. I’d have begun with a self-sample, but thought it best to start on a higher plane — and who in comedic history soared higher than Curly when it comes to debonair comedy? So it is written that I must take second place in my own post (third, if you count comedienne Joan Rivers’ intro to my poem):

THE DIVINE COMEDY CLUB

Humor is God’s gift to all of us.
–Joan Rivers

Thank God for funny
because seriously
we could be
dying out there.

Being a comedian is a lonely occupation; you stand on the stage talking to yourself, being overheard by audiences. –Fred Allen

Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn. –Irvin S. Cobb

Humor is just another defense against the universe. –Mel Brooks

When humor works, it works because it’s clarifying what people already feel. It has to come from someplace real. –Tina Fey

Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue. –Virginia Woolf

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. –W. C. Fields

The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven. –Mark Twain

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is. –Francis Bacon

I don’t want to run for office; there’s already too many comedians in Washington. –Will Rogers

Without a sense of humor, I don’t know how people make it. –Marlo Thomas

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

We close on an upbeat note from this laughing-at-life jazz great whose birthday is April 7:

 

HIGHER AND HIGHER

This post isn’t about what you may think it’s about (like maybe mountain climbing, drugs or seduction). No, friends — just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge the title of a post by its lover.

And what am I a lover of? Faithful readers know that from time to time, I indulge my love for 1920s-1940s popular music/jazz with a post honoring a songwriting giant of that era (forgotten though he or she may be today). Dec. 10 is the birthday of one such songwriter, and this is such a post (sorry about the letdown).

Lyricist Harold Adamson was born on this date in 1906. He studied law at Harvard, but songwriting had a greater appeal and, as luck (and talent) would have it, his first published song became an all-time standard: Time On My Hands, written for the 1930 stage show SMILES, starring Fred and Adele Astaire….and who better to do it justice than Billie Holiday, backed by Teddy Wilson, Lester Young & other jazz greats:

Working with such composers as Jimmy McHugh, Vincent Youmans, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Vernon Duke and Victor Young, Adamson went on to write lyrics to such hits as Manhattan Serenade, Everything I Have Is Yours, It’s A Wonderful World, It’s A Most Unusual Day and many more. Here, from the 1936 film SUZY starring Jean Harlow and a very young Cary Grant, is one of Adamson’s lesser known songs (and the only time Cary Grant ever sang in a movie):

In 1943 (at the height of WW II), Adamson teamed with McHugh to write the songs for Frank Sinatra’s first starring movie, HIGHER AND HIGHER. Quoting McHugh:

Adamson and I trekked into our office at RKO and found the script glaring coldly at us from the top of the piano. It informed us that there’d be a minor lover’s quarrel in the story, also the need of a big production number. Nothing happened with us that first day, but at 3 a.m. the next morning, Adamson phoned me and said he’d been listening to a musical shortwave program that suddenly had been cut off for a news announcement.
“There’s our title for the production number, Jim,” he said, “The Music Stopped.”
Then I began concentrating on the lovers’ spat and came down with insomnia. As the thousandth  sheep jumped over the fence, both tune and title landed: “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night.”

But to my mind, the best of the McHugh-Adamson songs from that film is this one:

Note that the above recording is a V-Disc, which is a story in itself. James Petrillo, head of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), had called a national ban on recording by its members in 1942, meaning no new recordings could be made by commercial record companies using AFM musicians. To get around this ban, songs were recorded a capella, without instrumental accompaniment. However, there was an exception for records, called V-Discs, made for American troops overseas….thus the orchestral accompaniment for this song from the film’s CBS rehearsal session was recorded as a V-Disc. This, and many other V-Discs, survive to this day because, although such discs were supposed to be off-limits in the U.S., this edict was largely ignored by returning GIs.

I close at the bottom of  this HIGHER AND HIGHER post with the title song from TOP OF THE TOWN, a film with screenplay co-written by humorist Robert Benchley:

 

 

 

 

 

I’M IN THE MOOD FOR McHUGH

Yes, music lovers, it’s time for another birthday salute to a great songwriter from the Stardust Age of popular music. Actually, two such greats were born this day (in 1900 & 1894), but I already dusted off the star of the youngest of them (Mitchell Parish) a year ago.
The other is Jimmy McHugh — if you’ve never heard of him, Don’t Blame Me ….and don’t blame his collaborator, Dorothy Fields, who wrote lyrics to the 1933 hit song of that title, as well as I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, I’m In The Mood For Love, and many others.

Rather than detail McHugh’s songwriting career in this post, I’m going to cut right to the Happy Times (another (McHugh/Fields composition) and invite you to join me in enjoying the music, beginning with  vocal (Mills Bros.) and instrumental (tenor sax legend Coleman Hawkins) versions of Don’t Blame Me:

The last clip is the all-time standard I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me (written by McHugh in 1927 before his collaboration with Dorothy Fields), vocal by Billie Holiday. It doesn’t get any better than this:

EXCUSE MY DUST

Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, time stays, we go. –Austin Dobson

Busy weekend. So much to do, so little time. What can I post that will take little time? Maybe if I wished upon a star for all the time in the world….but When You Wish Upon A Star, your dreams are but dust — unless you’re Pinocchio, and Walt Disney is pulling the strings. No, that song is a lie. Perhaps my chances would be better if….

Yes, that’s it. I’ll Wish On The Moon. I’ll wish for a dream or two. I’ll Wish On The Moon for Billie Holiday to be with us still, singing songs with lyrics by Dorothy Parker. Yes, Dorothy Parker wrote I WISHED ON THE MOON, and Billie Holiday was one of the first to sing it. But Billie was born exactly one hundred years and two months ago today, and Dorothy died today, June 7, in 1967….leaving this epitaph on her tombstone: EXCUSE MY DUST.

MAY 23 IS INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY

Although it is tempting to sum up the classic jazz era of 1917-32 with a few major names (Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, etc.), there were many other important contributors. The classic jazz era was one of dizzying innovation and breakthrough. –Scott Yanow, jazz writer

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

I am a classic jazz lover, pure and simple — which does not mean I love classic jazz exclusively. On the contrary, I’ve enjoyed the best of various types of music over the decades. But, considering the noisome state of what has been popular of late, I’m glad I was born early enough to appreciate the difference between music and noise. Thus, these poems on this day:

COUNTERFEIT NOTES

The things that pass
for music these days.

OUTDATED

I could tell you what it
was like in those days,
but you had to live it
to appreciate it, and why
should you give a damn?
I wasn’t born yesterday.

The destiny of every
generation is to become
irrelevant to the next.
You may save its music for
your collection of coming
tomorrows, its sounds
long died in the past, but
when you go, so too
goes the living ghost
of the world you knew.

WHEN JAZZ WAS JAZZ

Listen —
You can’t get
there from here.

May 23 also happens to be the birthday of all-time great clarinetist ARTIE SHAW, who was born in 1910 and played with many jazz/dance bands beginning in 1926. In 1936, he formed his own group, which evolved into one of the leading bands of the swing era. He also composed a number of fine songs, including LOVE OF MY LIFE (lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and ANY OLD TIME (which his band recorded in July 1938 with Billie Holiday as vocalist). That same recording session produced his biggest hit: