‘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/

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* 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A MAN AND HIS ‘DOGS’

dogs, Slang. The feet: My dogs are killing me!  fantasy, n.  A play of the mind; imagination; fancy; a picture existing only in the mind. –World Book Dictionary

A footnote to the World Book definition of fantasy: it is personified, in my view, by one man — fittingly so, because beyond his pictures he still dances in the mind, as timeless as imagination….no less real than the Hollywood from which such flights of fancy emanated and stars were born. That ethe-real man is Fred Astaire, the pictures were his movies, and this day is his birthday (May 10, 1899).

Astaire’s “dogs” may have been what carried him across the dance floor with Ginger Rogers in his arms, but it was his persona that took us with him. I like to think that what Santa Claus embodied for children, Fred Astaire embodied for my parent’s generation as teenagers/young adults, epitomizing easy grace and the allure of dreams more enticing than any toy that Santa could promise.  No other hoofer in film history even comes close to capturing his magic….which is why he survives his and my parent’s generation, just as any great artist lives on in what he or she creates.

In my favorite scene from my favorite Astaire-Rogers film (SWING TIME, 1936), professional dancer Astaire comes to New York and, after a chance street encounter with Rogers doesn’t go well, he follows her to the dance studio where she is an instructor. Pretending to be a novice, he botches the dance lesson. She insults him and is fired. As she is leaving the studio….

Of course, many elements must come together to produce movie magic, and SWING TIME had the good fortune to combine the talents of the stars with those of a great director (George Stevens), a fine supporting cast (including Eric Blore, seen in the above clip), and one of the best composer/lyricist teams of the Golden Age (Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields). In addition to the ‘dance lesson’ song PICK YOURSELF UP, their outstanding score includes A FINE ROMANCE, NEVER GONNA DANCE, and this love song:

On this May 10 celebration, let’s end appropriately with this: