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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Au Revoir, , , , , Dorothy Fields, , , , Rodgers and Hart,   

    THEY CALLED HIM AL 

    When I was writing about lyricist DOROTHY FIELDS and composer BERNICE PETKERE in my previous post (TWO TO GO), I had no thought of using it as a segue to this post ….but that was before I discovered that tomorrow is the birthday of a music man who sang at least a half dozen of Fields’ 1930s songs, including ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET (sung in the previous post by Diana Krall), not to mention the Petkere song CLOSE YOUR EYES (sung in the same post by that very man). They called him Al.

    The ‘another-world-ago’ Al is this world’s forgotten man, except by a relative handful of Golden Age music devotees around the world (primarily in America and Great Britain). His name was ALBERT ALICK BOWLLY (Jan 7, 1899-Apr. 17, 1941), heard here in a recording of a Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern song from the film JOY OF LIVING:

    Did you notice from the above dates that Bowlly had his life taken from him at a relatively young age? This was the tragic result of a WW II German air raid (one of many) on London in the early 1940s. But while he lived, who was this troubadour they called Al?

    Away from the bandstand he was a vagabond. He was a jazz mad musical nomad who traveled from his childhood home, South Africa, to London and all stops between in search of musical perfection with whatever band would have him. He plied his trade as a guitarist, a banjo, concertina and ukulele player, a pianist and occasional singer of songs. He took America by storm. The story of his musical meanderings, highs and lows, could only have happened in the thirties. –Roy Hudd, British author, comedian, actor, and expert on the history of music hall entertainment

    Listening to Diana Krall in the previous post — as well as CLOSE YOUR EYES vocalist Al Bowlly — we are taken by their way with a song, their Joy of Living the songs they sang…. as further evidenced by this rendition of the Rodgers and Hart classic, BLUE MOON:

    Here is one of his few appearances on film:

    For those interested in learning more of the story of Bowlly’s nomadic life, there’s an excellent bio called THEY CALLED HIM AL, by Ray Pallett, with Forward by Roy Hudd. As for this go-around, we’ve come to the last dance — it’s time to call it a day. I bid you a reluctant Au Revoir.

     

     

     
    • Don Ostertag 1:11 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      He was so good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:44 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Some thought of him as the British Bing Crosby. I think he had a better feel for a song than Bing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:30 pm on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Early in his career (up to about the mid 1930s), Bing sang with a jazz feel and what you might call soul, but after that, he was a different and very ordinary singer, in my opinion. If you listen to his early 1930s recordings and then his 1940s (and later) recordings, you wouldn’t think it’s the same singer. Bowlly’s style didn’t change, and he was the better for it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 2:46 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      good looking and talented, beats Bing hands down, no competition!

      Blue moon bought back some good memories … like these little meanders with you thanks MrM 🙂

      Like

      • mistermuse 7:40 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        In my opinion, no one has ever sung BLUE MOON better than Al Bowlly. I never tire of listening to it.

        Liked by 3 people

        • calmkate 5:35 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink

          oh I’ve heard a very heart wrenching version by four drunks in Broken Hill … that was very surreal 🙂

          Like

        • mistermuse 7:01 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink

          Well, that answers the riddle of how many drunks does it take to make a quartet, but not how many quarts does it take to make the four drunk. In Broken Hill, they probably drink their liquor by the gallon.

          Like

    • scifihammy 7:25 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Lovely light voice. 🙂 I love how they could actually Sing in those days!! 😀

      Like

      • mistermuse 8:07 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Not only that, scifi, but for the most part, they had better songs to sing. In general, the music world of Fields, Kern, Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, etc., has been largely replaced by a world of juvenile noise calling itself music — a culture without culture. A world that doesn’t know any better.

        Liked by 4 people

    • masercot 7:51 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      It’s a shame. He had a nice voice…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:12 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        A shame indeed. Makes one wonder whether, if he hadn’t been killed by one of Hitler’s bombs, his popularity would have continued after the war years (like Bing Crosby’s did) into the 1950s.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Wistful Nostalgic 1:05 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink

          Oh he sure would have! Think of the era of the singers in the 1940s. Al’s voice was perfect for all the standards that came after the 1930s.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Rivergirl 9:06 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I love those scratchy old recordings… never heard of Al though. Thanks for the introduction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:34 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Maybe you can prevail upon husband to find and bring home to you some scratchy old records and an antique phonograph to play them on when he goes on his “treasure hunts,” Rg. It strikes me that he “owes you one” after all the old contraptions and doohickeys he buys for himself!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Rivergirl 1:09 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink

          As much as I appreciate the thought?
          No…
          No more old stuff!

          Like

        • mistermuse 3:11 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink

          Like

          I hope you will make an exception for me, Rg, because even though I’m old stuff, what would you do without my puns to blighten — I mean BRIGHTEN — your day?

          Like

    • Ashley 12:23 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Goodness! Al Bowlly! How could anyone forget that wonderful voice. I wasn’t born until 1950 so it must have been in the b&w movies they showed on Sunday afternoons on the television that I heard him sing! The tunes and the voices have never left me! Thanks Mr. M. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:42 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Ashley. I’m beginning to believe that more people remember Al Bowlly than I thought. Maybe it’s like the song says: AU REVOIR, BUT NOT GOODBYE.

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 7:54 pm on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I never heard of Al Bowlly so it was very enjoyable to read your post and listen to the music. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth 5:27 pm on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      He was new to me, but I loved the film singing of “The Very Thought of You.” I imagine my grandfather, lover of all songs on records, probably listened to him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eliza 12:01 pm on January 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Happy new year! I hope this year brings good things your way…
      Love, light and glitter

      Like

    • mistermuse 10:49 pm on January 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Eliza, if you’ll Google “al bowlly looking on the bright side youtube”, there are several clips of the recording to choose from. That should take care of it, but if not, let me know. Thanks.

      Like

    • barkinginthedark 12:39 am on January 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      so wonderful MM…a joy. thanks. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 3:52 pm on January 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’d never hear of Al Bowlly before, but thanks to you I’m an instant fan! Loved the footage of him – he has a surprising amount of charisma on film.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 10:51 pm on January 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I appreciate your comment, SS, which leads me to believe that more Al Bowlly would be good for you — so here he is with the Ray Noble Orchestra, singing IT’S BAD FOR ME:

        Liked by 2 people

        • Silver Screenings 11:38 pm on January 19, 2020 Permalink

          Thank you for this. I’ve spent the past 40+ minutes listening to Al Bowlley, especially his rendition of “Heart & Soul”, which I listened to 3-4 times in a row. A wonderful way to end the weekend. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • Wistful Nostalgic 1:07 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink

          I love this song!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Wistful Nostalgic 1:14 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink

          There can never be too much Al! 😉 He’s a great way to start the day, and to end the day.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Wistful Nostalgic 1:06 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Oh he sure did! His magnetic charisma and charming personality just shines on the Pathe clip.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Wistful Nostalgic 1:13 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I love your post on Al. He is my favourite singer of all time. He was THE voice of the 20th century. I’m 52 , so he was from my Grandad’s era, but it feels my “true” era. Al was unique; nobody sounds like him; he’s got a voice of liquid gold. I especially love “Oh Mister Moon”, “Red Sails In The Sunset”, “Maybe It’s Because”, “My Woman”, and “You’re My Thrill”. But there are many more I love too. I listen to his music every day!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 9:23 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you. I have dozens of his albums, including those of bands (such as Ray Noble and Lew Stone) on which Al is the vocalist. Have you ever heard of Joey Nash? Some say he was the American Al Bowlly. Here he is in 1934 as a vocalist with Richard Himber’s Orchestra:

      P.S. Do you have a WordPress blog? As far as I can find, you’re only on Instagram, but I’m only on WordPress.

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bernice Petkere, , , , Dorothy Fields, , , , , On the Sunny Side of the Street, Starlight,   

    TWO TO GO 

    As 2019 goes into the history books, we close out the year and our series of 1920s-30s female songwriters with two of the best: BERNICE PETKERE and DOROTHY FIELDS.

    PETKERE, the longest lived (1901-2000) but perhaps least remembered of the women in this series, had her greatest success as a composer in the 1930s. This hit (with lyrics by Joe Young) was recorded in early 1932 by a rising star by the name of Bing Crosby:

    Petkere, primarily a composer, also wrote the lyrics to a few of her songs, including….

    Saving the class of the field for last, we turn to the most prolific lady lyricist of the era (and the first woman to be elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame), DOROTHY FIELDS, “the only female songwriter of the golden age whose name has not sunk into oblivion with time.” –Deborah Grace Winer, author of ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, subtitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DOROTHY FIELDS

    Named after Dorothy of Wizard of Oz fame, she teamed with composer Jimmy McHugh in 1927 to write many hits over the next eight years, including this all-time standard in 1930:

    Fields went on to write many songs with other composers until her death in 1974….but as much as I’d like to post links to more of Fields work, I’m going to resist temptation (you know what they say about too much of a good thing), Take It Easy*, and call it a Fields day

    ….except to say, Happy New Year!

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    *the title, it so happens, of a Fields song I resisted linking to (recorded by Fats Waller)

     

     
    • calmkate 3:22 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      wow I actually know most of Dorothy’s songs … that’s a huge achievement! I had often wondered who had written some of them … but not enough to look her up 🙂

      great way to welcome in the new decade, doubt I’ll see the next 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:30 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Kate. What better way to ring out the old and “welcome in the new decade” than with songs that stand the test of time, and know that if we are still around “in the next decade,” these great songs will still be around too.

        Liked by 3 people

        • calmkate 7:28 pm on December 31, 2019 Permalink

          these songs will be around for all time, they are so memorable … not sure I am that memorable!

          Like

        • mistermuse 1:30 am on January 1, 2020 Permalink

          Neither am I, Kate, but if it’s any consolation, it’s far better not to be remembered, than to be remembered like the likes of Donald Trump will be.

          Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 8:09 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve enjoyed your entertaining posts and movie/song clips this year, and look forward to more next year. 😀
      Happy New Year to you and all the best for 2020. 🙂

      Like

    • mistermuse 8:23 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate that, scifi — best New Year’s wishes to you as well.

      Like

    • GP Cox 9:53 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 10:02 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great post this! And thanks for the introduction to Pamela Rose! Born in the 50’s I’m not sure where I’ve heard so many of these songs before! Also thanks for the introduction to Diana Krall, great voice, just my sort of music and that piano! Couldn’t make out the make but the old well worn sound was wonderful.
      Have a happy healthy and peaceful New Year!

      Like

      • mistermuse 11:17 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Ashley, have I ever told you that you have great taste in music?
        But seriously, I’m seriously pleased that you dig this post. As for Diana Krall, I couldn’t agree more — I think she’s the finest jazz vocalist since Mel TormĂŠ, and yet virtually unknown outside of jazz circles. Such a pity that great jazz singers have almost no place in recent popular music culture.

        Like

    • smbabbitt 3:57 pm on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great selection of songs!

      Like

    • America On Coffee 1:49 am on January 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Classics live on! A great selection! 💕☕️☕️

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dorothy Fields, , , , , , , , , Pick Yourself Up, Swing Time   

    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:

     

     

     

     

     
    • scifihammy 4:58 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Movie magic indeed. 🙂 Always a pleasure to watch these two together and the ease with which Fred Astaire sings and dances 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 6:18 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You know I’ve heard and more than once that song writers wanted Fred Astaire to sing their songs. Not Sinatra as he might change the lyrics on them or any of the other big time singers of the era but Astaire. If you listen to the respect and the tenderness with which he handles the words it makes sense.

      Like

      • mistermuse 7:42 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Exactly right, Don. To quote from one of my Astaire record album covers: “In creating these songs, it almost seemed as if five of the undisputed masters in the field–Irving Berlin, Ira and George Gershwin, Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern–were stimulated by their assignments to out-do themselves in the quality of their work. And the reason was undoubtedly Fred Astaire himself. What songwriters loved about him was that, despite his admitted vocal limitations, he brought to each song a personal involvement that never distorted either the meaning or the melody.”

        Like

    • Midwestern Plant Girl 6:35 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I always loved the quote, “Ginger Rogers did everything the great Fred Astaire did backwards and in high heels.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 9:14 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I ask you, Sr. Muse, in your capacity as a semi-official curator of proclaimed national and world-wide days, should Astaire’s birthday be celebrated as White Guys Who Can Dance Day?

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:37 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds good to me. I’d also proclaim Oct. 2o and March 17 as Black Guys Who Could Dance Like No White Guys Did And Become Legendary Day (the birthdays of the fabulous Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold).

      Like

    • Cynthia Jobin 12:17 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      The kind of art that Astaire personified is one (of only a few, mind you) reason I wouldn’t mind returning to that era…

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 1:40 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      My sentiments exactly, Cynthia. But at least we still have Turner Classic Movies to go to whenever it’s worthwhile returning to that era, such as today when TCM is running a number of old Astaire films, such as CAREFREE at three P.M. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (SWING TIME was on this morning).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cynthia Jobin 1:51 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That’s our cable channel 42 here in Maine….ROYAL WEDDING is on now…thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 2:24 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You’re more than welcome. ROYAL WEDDING (for me) doesn’t have the magic of the Astaire-Rogers films (or even DAMSEL IN DISTRESS with Astaire-Joan Fontaine, which was on earlier), but it’s still worth a view or two. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 5:01 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That man is sure light on his feet!

      If someone made a list comparing slang for dogs and cats, wonder what we would find?

      Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach 6:21 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome scenes. When my daughter was about 4 years old she LOVED these old movies. We would snuggle on the couch and watch Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, and the rest. Great dancing and so much romance. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:55 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        It’s good to expose children to what was good about the good old days, so that they realize there’s a lot more to life than just the current culture. The more expansive their upbringing, the more well-rounded they will be when they’re on their own. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:37 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      If you’re a lucky dog , BroadBlogs, what you find would be the cat’s meow, otherwise you’re barking up the wrong tree. That’s a short list, but if I made it longer, it would be so bad, we might fight like cats and dogs. 😦

      Like

  • mistermuse 4:42 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Don't Blame Me, Dorothy Fields, I'm In The Mood For Love, , , , ,   

    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:

     
    • BroadBlogs 4:51 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s great being introduced to all these oldies. I’ve heard of them, but never heard them (that I know of).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 1:56 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great stuff Muse. Another guy I don’t think I ever heard of. I know his music but I didn’t know it was his.

      Like

    • Joseph Nebus 6:53 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, that’s wonderful. Thanks.

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:12 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, guys (and gal)….and btw, I’ve switched to a different Billie Holiday clip of the same recording because the first one gave the wrong recording date (1933). It was actually recorded Jan 1938.

      Like

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