SWIFT, UP AMONG THE CHIMNEY POTS

chimney pot, a pipe of earthenware or metal fitted on top of a chimney to increase the draft and carry off the smoke. –The World Book Dictionary

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Today I’d like to tell you about a classy dame by the name of KAY SWIFT, who was the first woman to write the complete score for an American musical (FINE AND DANDY, in 1930). To be honest, though, that wasn’t what prompted me to write this post — the real trigger was that, although I’ve long been a fan of her music, today I came across a song of hers I hadn’t heard before, and I liked it so much that I’d like to share it with you (along, while I’m at it, with two other Swift favorites).

The song I hadn’t heard before (with the curious title UP AMONG THE CHIMNEY POTS) is sung here by jazz vocalist Louise Carlyle, with the composer at the piano:

SWIFT was born in NYC in 1897. She trained as a classical musician and composer at what is now called the Julliard School, but was a great fan of popular songwriter Irving Berlin and, later, George Gershwin, with whom she became intimately involved (for more, go to this link, then click BIOGRAPHY (upper left below the word SWIFT):

http://www.kayswift.com/

Swift married her first husband, banker James Warburg, in 1918. A banker might be the last person you think of as a writer of lyrics to romantic songs, but’s that’s exactly what he was (under the name Paul James) to the music of his composer wife….until they divorced in 1934 — the same year he resigned as financial advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt.

I turn now to the first-written (1929) of my favorite Kay Swift/Paul James songs:

Let’s close with the title song from the aforementioned 1930 musical FINE AND DANDY:

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

 

DON’T FORGET TO KISS AND MAKE UP

First, I want to beg your forgiveness for forgetting to publish a post for you on July 2nd (I FORGOT DAY), for I forgot it was I FORGOT DAY….but even if I hadn’t forgotten it was I FORGOT DAY,  I might have forgotten to forget what I forgot. In any case, my bad.

If memory serves me right, friends, they say you never get a second chance to make a worst impression. But now it’s July 6th (INTERNATIONAL KISSING DAY), so let us let bygones be bygones, kiss and make up. After all, if Trump and North Korean dicktator Kim Jong Un can rise above it all on the world stage, you can see that you and I, surely, should be able to get down to a measure of serendipity on this piddling platform (albeit a bit less passionately than The Donald embracing Un). Of course, it would surely help if you….

And just in case you forgot how Trump and Un have come to feel about each other….

Surly friends, it’s TIME to bury the hatchet, forget that I forgot, dig our differences, and pucker up. However, since kissing can transmit 80 million microbes of bacteria in a single buss, I suggest we get off the buss and blow each other kisses electronically. Ready. Set. Blow. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I’d blow more, but I don’t want this post to be X-rated. Besides, I want to leave space for you to return the love….

I’m waiting.

 

SCREENINGS FOR ELLA

“….any day with Ella Fitzgerald is a grand day. ….that song [is] another one I hadn’t heard before.” –from a June 13 comment to my last (June 6th) post by Silver Screenings (a blog published by ‘Ruth’)

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In my reply to Ruth, I noted that with June 15 nearing (the 23rd anniversary of Ella’s death), I’d use the occasion to post a remembrance, including clips of other songs she may not have heard Ella sing. Over the years, I’ve probably done over a dozen Ella clips, including a half dozen in my April 25th post titled THE FIRST LADY OF SONG. After screening a few previous Ella posts to try to avoid repetition, hopefully the songs that follow will fall fresh on Ruth’s ‘Ella-fan-true’ ears (as opposed to mistermuse’s Elephant ears).

Let’s start with an early Ella (as ‘girl’ vocalist with Chick Webb’s Orchestra in April 1936):

Next, we turn from the swinging Ella to a more dreamy Ella:

Before you tune out, I know some of you guys aren’t fans of my kind of music (or the songbirds who warble it), so next time I’ll consider a return to posting about your (and Mexico’s) favorite tweeter of note, Donaldo el Trumpo — mean-o-while, I bid you a fond….

THE FIRST LADY OF SONG

The only thing better than singing is more singing. –Ella Fitzgerald

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Today marks the birthday (4/25/1917) of one of my all-time favorite female jazz vocalists, Ella Fitzgerald. Nearly forty years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing/hearing The First Lady of Song (as she was fittingly known) when she was appearing in San Francisco at a time I happened to be there. Her performance that night confirmed what I’d dug from decades of collecting her records and listening to her sing and interpret lyrics as only she could.

Ella, my musical muse and soulmate in song, for all the ‘spiritual’ pleasure you brought (and continue to bring) me and countless other fans over the years, this post is….

Like the Lady said at the start, the only thing better than singing is more singing (especially when It’s Wonderful singing):

I first got hooked on (and continue to love) Ella’s feel for a song as the ‘girl’ vocalist with Chick Webb’s Band in the mid-to-late 1930s. Even before reaching stardom, there was little doubt she meant it when she expressed….

….and then she became the band’s BIG attraction when her rendition of A-TISKET, A TASKET became a #1 hit in 1938. Later in her career, Ella’s vocals evolved into more of a scat-singing style, but I didn’t scat from evolving with her and echoing….

….and I hope it’s all right with you.

 

SCAT!

Wait — don’t scat! Stay where you are and let scat come to you — scat singing, that is — and who better to lay the scat on you than two of the best: Mel Tormé, whose birthday (9/13/25) we celebrate this month, and the First Lady of Scat, Ella Fitzgerald:

Man, if that didn’t knock your socks off, you’d better put your shoes on and scat back to Squaresville, because you’re just not with it! To say scat singing is little more than vocal jazz improvisation with nonsense words is like saying The Donald is just improvising when he lets loose with nonsense tweets (to use a reverse perverse metaphor).

So, who was the cat who ‘invented’ scat? There seems to be no definitive answer, but some say it began 2/26/26 when Louis Armstrong supposedly forgot the words to this song and began improvising a little more than halfway through the recording:

Let’s wrap it up with this recent scat-iteration (which, I kid you not, ends with tweets):

And now you can scat! Come back any time.

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

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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.