‘LLZAPOPPIN (PART ONE)

The above title (a contraction of HELLZAPOPPIN, a 1941 movie based on a long-running Broadway show of the same name) sets the stage for letter L in our fem song series. Ere we proceed, just for the L of it, let’s pop in on the film’s frenetic LINDY HOP dance number:

Speaking of numbers, I’m breaking L up into two parts — due, not just to an abundance of Lady L songs to choose from, but to previously needing to combine two letters (H-I) into one post. Part II will get the focus back on locus, becoming opus #12 of this hocus-pocus, once again matching the post with the corresponding letter of the alphabet.

Our first Lady L is the title song of the 1944 film noir classic LAURA, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, who Must Have Been A Beautiful (November) Baby*. Believe it or not, Mercer wrote what has to be a record 20+ songs with a girl’s name* in the title — none more haunting than….

We conclude Part One with the indelible SWEET LORRAINE (instrumental version):

If you want to ‘sing along’ with the song (assuming your family and/or neighbors won’t object/protest), here are the lyrics:

http://www.carsieblanton.com/lyrics/sweet-lorraine/

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

* Johnny Mercer was born November 18, 1909. YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY was one of his many hit songs.

* Mercer “girl’s name” list (#2 after Cinderella signifies two songs with that name in the title):

Amber
Antonia
Ariane
Bernadine
Blossom
Celia
Cherie
Cinderella (2)
Cindy
Deirdre
Emily

Georgia
Jezebel
Joanna
Jo-Jo
Kate
Laura
Mandy
Mary
Pollyanna
Sally
Tangerine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

KKK — SHEET MUSIC TO DRY FOR*

So far in this feminine song series, we haven’t embraced a single Gershwin tune. Let us korrect that egregious omission right now with the title song from the 1926 Broadway musical OH, KAY! OK, it’s true that the hit song to come out of that show wasn’t Oh, Kay!, but SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME….unfortunately, George and Ira didn’t title that hit song Someone To Watch Over Kay, so this selection is what it is — Oh, Kay?

Next, we have a 78 rpm record that I’ve had for many years;  I’ve long gotten such a Kick out of it that my Kazatski is Kaputski. Oy vey! That hotski music is too much for me:

From the ridiculous to the sublime, our third (and final) K song is so beautifully sad that you’d swear it’s an Irish ballad….but it was actually written by an American of German ancestry in 1875, when, I might note, sheet music was the only way of taking songs home (even player piano rolls hadn’t been invented yet). Anyway, if you cry easily* — faith and begorrah, there be nothing wrong with that — keep the Kleenex Klose by.

*You may now dry your eyes (I will discretely pretend not to notice).

WASN’T IT GREAT?

I don’t believe that a writer does something wonderful spontaneously. I believe it’s the result of years of living, of study, reading, his very personality and temperament. At one particular moment all these things come together and the artist ‘expresses’ himself. –Richard Rodgers

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

Of all the songs Richard Rodgers wrote, first with Lorenz Hart and then Oscar Hammerstein II, few are more obscure than one of Rodgers & Hart’s earliest, Wasn’t It Great? Yet, as I surveyed the list of their far better known titles: Manhattan, My Heart Stood Still, Thou Swell, Blue Moon (their only one published as a popular song, not for a Broadway show or movie score) and hundreds more, no title seemed more fitting to remember his 113th birthday (June 28, 1902) than Wasn’t It Great?.

Richard Rodgers wasn’t just another songwriter coming of age in that dynamic era of social, cultural and artistic change known as the “Roaring Twenties.” When composer Rodgers and lyricist Hart first teamed up in 1919, American popular music was mostly “a thing of trite phrase and cliché, of cloying Victorian sentiment, a tired and hackneyed commodity” (to quote biographer Frederick Nolan). “Moreover,” as Hart said in a 1928 interview, “the old love song….of the then popular waltz was usually a quiet exemplification of innocent amatory music; but today the barbaric quality of jazz dance music demands expressions of love that are much more dynamic and physical.”

Over the evolving years, Rodgers composed songs for 42 Broadway musicals, of which 19 film versions were made. Even a partial list of shows is beyond impressive: THE GARRICK GAIETIES, SPRING IS HERE, LOVE ME TONIGHT, BABES IN ARMS, PAL JOEY, OKLAHOMA!, SOUTH PACIFIC, CAROUSEL, THE KING AND I, STATE FAIR (which included the 1946 Oscar-winning song It Might As Well Be Spring). As much as any composer from the 1920s to 1960s, Richard Rodgers WAS the Sound of Music.

It is especially worth noting that Rodgers accomplished all this despite the completely different styles and personalities of his two principal collaborators. Of Lorenz Hart (who died in 1943), Rodgers said, “Larry was much gayer and lighter than Oscar. He was inclined to be cynical, where Oscar never was. Oscar was more sentimental and so the music had to be more sentimental. It wouldn’t have been natural for Larry to write ‘Oklahoma!’ any more than it would have been natural for Oscar to write ‘Pal Joey’.”

And so I close with a Richard Rodgers song written with each collaborator (the first with lyrics by Hart):