A com-POSE-r BY ANY OTHER NAME (Part 2 of 2)

I am pleased to announce (as is often said when making an announcement) the proper pairings of birth names with noms de plume listed in Part 1:

a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5
e. 6
f. 1
g. 10
h. 9
i. 8
j. 7

Next (as is often said when making another announcement), I am pleased to announce that I have selected the following song from the requests made by readers of Part 1 to be played in Part 2, which I am pleased to announce totaled one request, which was a considerable help in deciding the final choice. So, after much soul searching — not to mention weeping and gnashing of my remaining teeth — here is the request winner:

But wait — there’s more! I have my own favorite song from the list. Composed by Eubie Blake with lyrics by Andy Razaf, here is MEMORIES OF YOU, with vocal refrain:

I close with the 1930 instrumental version played by Eubie Blake & His Orchestra:




This post is JAZZ FOR LAUGHS — or, more to the part, the first in a series of JAZZ FOR LAUGHS posts. Just for laughs is my musical theme — when it comes to funny, I’ll stop at nothing. So, when you hear Nothing, it means something. Or Nothing At All.

So, what’s so funny about that song, you ask. Nothing. Nothing at all. But I needed a lead-in, and that’s the best I could do. Seriously. Speaking of seriously….

Well, that clip started out well, but I must admit it Peter-ed out after a while. (Did you get it — Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky “Peter-ed” out….hahahahaha.) So enough of the serious stuff. Let’s see what else drives Spike to drink….

As the horse said to the horse traitor who led him to firewater, “I’ll drunk to that” (with apologies to Dorothy Parker, who once said, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.” Horticulture has had a soiled reputation ever since.).


It’s T time — time once again to take to the links and “T” off. Our first link, as I post this in the wee small hours of the morning, is a tune that goes through a roll call of maids-in-waiting. As you will hear, Frank’LL TAKE TALLULAH. (It dawns on me that come the Don, Frankel take her too, or I miss my bet*):

*referring to our friend Don Frankel, fellow unofficial member of the Frank Sinatra fan club

Four years after the above 1944 recording, another T came into Sinatra’s life:

As you may know, Tina is the name of Sinatra’s ‘other’ daughter (Nancy being the older and more celebrated of the two). So how did Tina really feel about her famous father?

We started with a WW II era song from a movie, and we’ll close with another: Johnny Mercer’s TANGERINE, from THE FLEET’S IN (1942). The orchestra this time is Jimmy Dorsey’s (brother of Tommy, who took Tallulah aboard Ship Ahoy in the first clip):

If the last clip, in particular, shows its age and looks/sounds quaint to us today, remember this is what your parents or grandparents listened and danced to in their day ….and you would have done the same in their place. Truth be told, aren’t most of us captives of the culture we’re in? I may be spitting into the wind, but it strikes me that we’re stuck in shallow water if we think there is only ‘now.’ Why so many have so little interest in where we came from is beyond me. It might tell us how we got here. It might even help tell us where to go (not that I would ever do such a thing).



Believe it or not, I have standards — which I have made the standard for S (Part II). One of the all-time great standards of America’s Golden Age of popular music is STELLA BY STARLIGHT, composed by Victor Young for the 1944 film THE UNINVITED.  I invite you to be my guest for this good-as-it-gets rendition by the man known as “Mr. B”….

By most standards, the obscure tune which follows isn’t considered a standard….but when it’s by Cole Porter, almost any song (in my considered opinion) qualifies:

Our next S song has had more lives than a cat named Susie. It was first recorded by Eddie Cantor on 4/6/1925 and became a bestseller. It was subsequently sung by an actor who played Cantor in THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936), by two guys named Gene & Frank in ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945), and again by Cantor in the films IF YOU KNEW SUSIE (1948) and THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY (1953)….not to mention other vintage recordings and performances. The clip below is from (guess which) one of the above:

We close with a song which may be too highbrow for some of you, but a little taste of class is surely worth the risk of a black eye to your reputation (such as it is — ha ha):



In doing research for the posts of this fem song series, I occasionally come across an old tune which not only is unfamiliar to me, but has a ‘trivia’ connection that catches my attention as much as the song itself. Such is the case with my first N song — NINA, recorded in 1931 by Wooding’s Grand Central Red Caps:

Orchestras of that era often adopted the names of venues where they played extended gigs, such as Richard Himber and His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra / Billy Wynne and His Greenwich Village Inn Orchestra. These venues lent a certain prestige to the orchestra and, one assumes, vice versa — though it’s hard to see how Grand Central Station could gain prestige from being coupled with a relatively obscure band like Wooding’s. But beyond that, it seems unlikely that any orchestra would be the ‘house band’ at a train terminal ….even one so grand as Grand Central — unless a night club was ‘on board’ there (which I can find no record of). If anyone can throw some light on the latter, please comment.

Moving on, we have a gal named NELLIE who is also waiting for some light:

The end dame of our N game is NANCY….you know — the one with the laughing face.



Contrary to what the above title may suggest, this post is not a narrative of two nabobs of European nobility in medieval times. Rather, it’s about two giants of jazz royalty in Big Band-era America: one whose birthday, and the other whose expiration day, occurred last week. I refer to Duke Ellington (born 4/29/1899) and Count Basie (died 4/26/1984).

If you’re of a certain age, no doubt you’ve heard of them, but unless you’re a pre-rock jazz buff, that’s probably the extent of it. Permit me, then, to introduce you to these musical titans of yesteryear, and to a sampling of their legacy.  After all, it’s not every day that you get to meet a Duke and a Count.

I could get carried away with all there is to say about the former, but in the interest of not getting carried away, I will confine my remarks mainly to this quote:

Ellington has often credited his sidemen with the success of his band. But those who knew Duke and his music best — and this includes those very sidemen — will invariably tell you that what set Ellington’s apart is just one thing: the brilliant conductor-composer-arranger-pianist-bon vivant and leader of men, Duke Ellington himself. –George Simon (from his book, THE BIG BANDS)

Here are two of the Duke’s many compositions, the first from the 1930 film CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK, and the second from a European tour decades later:

Let us now turn to that other distinguished composer-pianist-band leader, Count Basie, whose talents weren’t as multifaceted as the Duke, but whose orchestra likewise outlasted the end of the Big Band era. Quoting George Simon one more time:

For several years [after] the days of the big bands, Basie didn’t do well, and he was forced to cut down his group to a sextet. But then he made a comeback and, aided greatly by support from Frank Sinatra, who helped him get lucrative bookings in Las Vegas and appeared with him in a series of successful concerts, the Basie band [again] rode high. 

 Let’s jump to a conclusion with this swinging rendition (especially the last seventy seconds) of Basie’s own composition and theme song:


Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution? –Groucho Marx

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

My wife and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary yesterday. You may think that, unlike the 50th, a 48th wedding anniversary is no big deal — and I wouldn’t disagree. But, being in need of an idea for this post, I wasn’t about to look a gift source in the mouth; thus, yesterday’s anniversary became my inspiration to write about….divorce.

Ha ha — just kidding (my wife might kill me if I were serious). This post will, of course, be about MARRIAGE….a fate which, as fates go, beats being killed (almost) any day. Ha ha ha. Just kidding again! Lest there be any doubt concerning my true feelings about marriage:

Yes, just as in the song, ask the local gentry, and they will say it’s elementary. But why stop with the local gentry? I believe my readers are nothing if not broad minded:

Marriage is the most licentious of human institutions — that is the secret of its popularity. –George Bernard Shaw

Getting married, like getting hanged, is a great deal less dreadful than it has been made out. –H. L. Mencken

It’s no disgrace for a woman to make a mistake in marrying — every woman does it. –Ed Howe

A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband. –Michel de Montaigne

Marriage is like paying an endless visit in your worst clothes. –J. B. Priestley

When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife. –Prince Philip

Marriage is a feminine plot to add to a man’s responsibilities and subtract from his rights. –Evan Esar

Before marriage, a man declares he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won’t even lay down his paper to talk to you. –Helen Rowland

The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin. –Honore de Balzac

I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her. –Rodney Dangerfield

Ha ha ha ha….I mean, Yes, dear — I’m listening. Seriously.