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  • mistermuse 1:17 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: At The Circus, Barnum & Bailey, , , Harold Arlen, , , Ringling Bros., The Big Top, the Circus, ,   


    Does this melody ring a bell?

    Does the name Ringling Bros. ring a bell?

    If it does, the connection between the two should be clear as a bell, because that melody was used for decades on Hollywood soundtracks to accompany circus footage. The most famous circus of them all was Ringling Bros., which was founded on April 10, 1871, merged with Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth in 1919, and closed on May 22 2017.

    I recall seeing a circus as a young boy (regrettably, I don’t recall if it was Ringling Bros.)…. but this post’s focus is on circus movies, two of which I’ve seen several times since I was a teenage boy: Charlie Chaplin’s THE CIRCUS, and {The Marx Brothers) AT THE CIRCUS.

    THE CIRCUS (1928) is not as well known as such Chaplin masterpieces as THE GOLD RUSH, CITY LIGHTS, and MODERN TIMES, but it is still a great show. Here is the trailer, followed by the closing scene when the circus leaves town with the circus girl he loves:

    AT THE CIRCUS (1939) isn’t one of the Marx Brothers’ best films, but it has one of Groucho’s most famous scenes:

    How this song came to be written is a story in itself, but the history of Lydia actually pre-dates the song. In Germany in the 1920s, an entertainer named Wilhelm Bendow had a stand-up act as Lydia Smith, the tattooed lady, in which he wore a body cast and performed a satirical sketch. It is no stretch to assume that American lyricist Yip Harburg had heard of that act when he and composer Harold Arlen wrote the song in 1939 (yes, it’s the same Harburg and Arlen who earlier in 1939 wrote OVER THE RAINBOW and the other great songs in WIZARD OF OZ).

    As for the song’s lyrics, Harburg was a friend of Groucho, and both were fans of Gilbert and Sullivan. One evening (as AT THE CIRCUS was being developed) at a gathering at Groucho’s house, they were playing G & S records and singing along. Harburg was inspired to show his G & S-like inventiveness with rhyme scheme and verbal dexterity by writing a song for Groucho for the film, and the result was Lydia, The Tattooed Lady.

    But the song ran into trouble with the Breen office censors. Quoting Harburg: “That song was thought to be risqu√©, and we had a hell of a lot of trouble with it. This was 1939 and censorship was at its full height. We were told we would have to cut it out of the picture. Harold and I were mad. Finally, we got an idea of how to save the song. We put in a final verse to legitimize [it]”:

    She once swept an admiral off of his feet
    The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat
    And now the old boy is in charge of the fleet
    For he went and married Lydia.

    There have been other circus movies (including the 1952 opus with the same title as this post, starring Jimmy Stewart as a circus clown), but that would make a three-ring circus of this post, and two is enough for this old boy.

    The Big Top stops here.





    • D. Wallace Peach 6:16 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      How fun to listen to that song. I went to the circus a couple of times as a kid and took my daughter decades ago. Now, with greater awareness of the impact on the animals, the circus has lost its luster, but sad too that it’s gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:33 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You ain’t lion, Diana. We still have zoos, but some people would like to do away with them too. I don’t agree, because I suspect that zoos are the last best hope of saving some on-the-verge-of-extinction animals (and zoo animals are no doubt, on the whole, better treated than circus animals were).

        Liked by 1 person

        • D. Wallace Peach 7:46 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree about the zoos, especially since humans seem committed to destroying their natural habitats or just killing them for fun. Like the Trump boys.

          Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 6:49 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      oh that first tune brought back many fond memories … second video was not available.

      Would love cc’s Circus, think I’ll look for it ūüôā
      Lydia packs a punch, the song and it’s fascinating history, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:34 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You should be able to find viewable clips of Charlie Chaplin’s THE CIRCUS fairly easily, Kate. When I Googled it, I saw various scenes, and even the whole movie, available on Youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 7:52 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Of course I know that melody! It’s one of the background songs of the circus that is my life ūüôā La la la la!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:41 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Now you’re talking my La la la la language, mm! It’s one of those songs that, once you hear it, you won’t forget it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 6:46 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I learned a lot from Lydia…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 2:59 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I wonder if Trump learned anything from Lydia? Even if he did, he wouldn’t give her credit, so kudos to you. ūüėČ

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rivergirl 8:40 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I spent my childhood at Madison Square Garden with Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth. As a kid? It was 3 rings of pure magic…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Elizabeth 5:08 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Barnum came from Bridgeport Connecticut, so he is well known around here. My grandfather introduced us to “Lydia” in 1957, much to the consternation of my grandmother! He always liked innuendo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:11 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like Lydia meant SINnuendo to your grandmother, Elizabeth. Bless her heart, I shudder to think how she would feel about today’s culture.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The Diary of a Country Bumpkin 5:18 pm on March 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Love the Marx brothers, brilliant!

      Liked by 1 person

    • kutukamus 2:01 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I never knew the title of that song before. Thanks! ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 3:49 pm on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’m another one who didn’t know the title of that famous circus song.

      As for Charlie Chaplin, I have not yet seen his film, The Circus, and the trailer you posted makes me want to see it immediately. Thanks for putting it on my radar. ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:43 pm on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I must confess that I didn’t know the title either….or rather, I knew it at one time but had forgotten it (courtesy of old age having crept up on me). As for The Circus, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it on Youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:05 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Harold Arlen, , , , misfortune, , , , ,   


    When misfortune comes, take it like a man–blame it on your wife. –Evan Esar

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *¬†* * * * * * * * * * *

    Many of us suffer an unanticipated misfortune at some point in our lives. It could be the missed fortune¬†of being¬†left out of the will of¬†a rich¬†cousin¬†you loved like a brother (until the ungrateful¬†s.o.b.¬†left every cent he had to his actual brother)….or¬†it could be distress under duress,¬†like¬†your mistress taking egress,¬†leaving you in¬†a mess, no less,¬†with¬†your wife. Or, if you are¬†a wife, perhaps you got wind of, not only¬†the mistress on the side, but¬†the ‘steady at the ready’ and¬†the ‘wench on the bench’ (otherwise known as having too many loins in the fire). Yes, friends, misfortune is an ill wind which blows no good…

    Now, far be it from mistermuse to blame¬†his misfortunes on his wife. As a matter of tact, if it weren’t for my¬†wife, I don’t know what I would do (or is it, wouldn’t do?). Yes, friends, mistermuse has been a sappily married man for¬†49 years, 10 months, and 13 days¬†now, and I can honestly say it doesn’t seem like¬†a day over 49 years, 10 months, and 12 days.

    That said, game on.¬†Let’s¬†see what other men have had to say on the subject:

    Wives are people who feel that they don’t dance enough. –Groucho Marx

    How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who treats her as if she were a perfectly natural being? –Oscar Wilde

    If Presidents can’t¬†do it to their¬†wives, they do it to their countries. –Mel Brooks

    No matter how happily married a woman may be, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes she were not. –H. L. Mencken

    My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher. –Socrates

    Some wives are like fishermen: they think the best ones got away. –Evan Esar

    I’ve had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me and the second one didn’t. –Patrick Murray

    A man placed an ad in the classifieds: “Wife wanted.” Next day he received over a hundred replies: “You can have mine.” –Anonymous

    NOTE: The last quote is absolutely NOT mine!

    • Paul Sunstone 3:16 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      So far a I know there are at least three or four major religions that each claim their own god created the institution of marriage — and everyone of them say they did it to protect the women, which I find hilarious.

      Liked by 3 people

    • calmkate 4:31 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      lol hilarious .. big 50 celebration coming up, well done both of you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 5:33 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Women are the major cause of mental illness in men…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:12 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        You may be right, Charlie–but I can’t think of a better cause! ūüôā


    • Lisa R. Palmer 8:36 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Congrats on making it work!! That is quite an accomplishment for both of you…

      I laughed at almost all of these, being an ex-wife, except one, which I simply didn’t understand. Goes to show that humor targets certain audiences (probably based on common experiences…?).

      What the heck was Oscar Wilde trying to say here, and where is the “funny”? Lol!

      “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who treats her as if she were a perfectly natural being?”¬†‚ÄďOscar Wilde

      P.S. No need to actually explain; it only makes things worse. If a joke needs lengthy rationale, then it already failed. But since I’m not the intended audience, no harm done. Just thought I’d share my ignorance, as it might make it funnier to others. ūüėÄ

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:28 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        No problem, Lisa–I’ve found from long experience that explanations only get me into longer no-win situations. That’s why “Yes, dear” is almost always the better part of valor….and, as you can tell, I’ve become very well trained in almost 50 years. ūüôā

        Liked by 2 people

    • Carmen 8:48 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Here’s the one I like, and which was stuck on our fridge for years –
      “The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother”.

      Almost 50 years! Wow! We’re 9 years behind you, mister muse, which reminds me of another statement I read when I first got married – and it has stuck in my head because of its truth (well, in our case anyway!) –
      “Marriage is a contest of wills.” ūüôā

      Congratulations and in my opinion, you brought the very best trait to the union – a kick-ass sense of humour!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:32 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Carmen. Unfortunately, the ass I’d most like to kick is out of reach (not my wife–Donald Trump)! ūüôā

        P.S. I like your “statements.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Carmen 10:17 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      A friend of ours once told a young fellow who was getting married that there were only two responses he needed to know – “Yes, dear” and “That outfit looks lovely on you!” ūüôā

      Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 1:26 pm on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Congrats to you and Senora Muse on your upcoming 50th.

      Liked by 1 person

    • inesephoto 1:52 pm on July 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Eternal source of jokes ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 2:13 pm on July 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Here’s some advice on the subject that I didn’t take. But I was happy anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:17 pm on July 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Good song, Don. I like toe-tappers which don’t lead to my wife putting her foot down.


    • floatinggold 10:40 pm on July 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Almost 50 years? That’s impressive. How do people manage to put up with ANYONE for so long?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:50 pm on July 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        First, you have to live long enough. Second, so does your wife. Third, it helps to have a sense of humor. Fourth, if your wife has a strong arm throwing pots, pans and dishes, it helps to have good reflexes. Fifth, when all else fails, either pray for a miracle that she’ll see things your way, or say “Yes, dear.” Or both.

        Liked by 1 person

    • MikeTX 10:49 am on August 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Congrats on the half a century of marital bliss Muse.

      I guess you have no wench on the bench; a fact which also keeps a foot from being put down…on your throat. Good luck on your next half-century!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:07 pm on August 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Mike. Sorry about the delayed reply — I just noticed that your comment was awaiting approval.


    • America On Coffee 1:43 pm on August 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Love this!!

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 3:32 pm on March 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bert Williams, , , Harold Arlen, ,   


    I have never been able to discover anything disgraceful in being a colored man. But I have often found it inconvenient. –Bert Williams

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

    Yesterday marked the 96th anniversary of the death of the great¬†“colored” comedian Bert Williams, whose humorous 1920¬†song I WANT TO KNOW WHERE TOSTI WENT (WHEN HE SAID GOODBYE) appeared in my last post.¬†You can¬†learn a bit more about this pioneering black entertainer in the racist America of the late 1800s/early 1900s¬†by clicking here: https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200038860/

    To commemorate the anniversary of the day Bert Williams said “Goodbye forever,” I thought I would¬†extend that post’s¬†theme with¬†a curtain call¬†of¬†several¬†later¬†“goodbye” songs from America’s Golden Age of Popular Music (if not yet¬†America’s Golden Age of race relations). Just a little something to keep in mind, every time we say goodbye (courtesy of Cole Porter):

    So, what’s good about goodbye? I’m glad you asked (courtesy of Harold Arlen):

    Perhaps next post, I’ll¬†transition into¬†some ‘hello’ songs. It would help the transfiguration if I could put this song title¬†in reverse:

    P.S. The first several readers of this post may have been confused by changes made in the last clip after I posted it. What I initially thought was a clip of another vocalist singing “Hello, My Lover, Goodbye” turned out to be in error, so, left with few choices,¬†I hastily tried to switch to a clip of Doris Day (NOT one of my favorite vocalists) singing the song. After a few ‘haste-makes-waste’ starts, I made the substitution, but probably left a few of you wondering if I hadn’t said goodbye to my mind. But all’s well that ends well (I hope).


  • mistermuse 12:01 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andy Razaf, , Harold Arlen, , Jimmy Van Heusen, , , , , , ,   

    A com-POSE-r BY ANY OTHER NAME…. (Part 1 of 2) 

    Tomorrow, Feb. 15, is the birthday of one of America’s greatest composers of popular songs, Hyman Arluck.¬†Hyman WHO, you ask? Never heard of him? If you’re a fan of America’s Golden Age of Popular Music, this song of his is probably¬†one of your favorites:

    ….not to mention this one:

    You say you thought those songs were composed by HAROLD ARLEN?
    From what I hear, no doubt¬†they was….
    of the wonderful whiz he was.
    But before a wonderful whiz he was, he was¬†Hyman Arluck, so born on Feb. 15, 1905.¬†If you were¬†fooled, you should be grateful because, as Arlen (nee Arluck) notes in another of his songs, it’s….

    Speaking of which, I thought it might be fun (for me, anyway) to¬†fool around with a¬†selection of birth names of¬†other great Golden Age songwriters¬†(each of them listed¬†with¬†one of their most popular songs), followed by a¬†list of their noms de plume in scrambled order.¬†Unless you Arluck-y, you’ll probably¬†be unable to correctly¬†pair more than 70% of the names¬†(but at least¬†half¬†are guessable¬†even if you don’t know them):

    a. Israel Baline (HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?)
    b. Benjamin Anzelwitz (SWEET GEORGIA BROWN)
    c. C. K. Dober (BARNEY GOOGLE)
    d. Vladimir Dukelsky (APRIL IN PARIS)
    e. Charles N. Daniels (CHLOE)
    f. Albert Gumm (TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME)
    g. Johnny Kluczko (RACING WITH THE MOON)
    h. Edward Chester Babcock (LOVE AND MARRIAGE)
    i. Andrea Razafkeriefo (MEMORIES OF YOU)
    j. William Samuel Rosenberg (I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING)

    1. Albert Von Tilzer
    2. Irving Berlin
    3. Ben Bernie
    4. Con Conrad
    5. Vernon Duke
    6. Neil Moret
    7. Billy Rose
    8. Andy Razaf
    9. Jimmy Van Heusen
    10. Johnny Watson

    In Part 2, I’ll¬†post the answers¬†plus clips of a few of the above¬†songs. Meanwhile, if you’d like¬†to¬†hear one of the¬†songs in particular, comments are open — please¬†make a request. I’ve got a feeling I’m filling¬†it.


    • Superduque777 12:08 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 7:09 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the Over the Rainbow clip. I never tire of hearing Judy Garland sing it. ūüôā
      I’m rubbish at guessing the real names!
      But I’d like to hear April in Paris Thank you ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 8:57 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I knew Israel Baline was Irving Berlin as a relative of one of my relatives was his accountant. Sometimes I got some really great seats at the Music Box Theater. Then I knew who Edward Chester Babcock was as he worked with and was a close friend of Sinatra. I could guess who Billy Rose was as the names are pretty similar but then I had a lot of fun looking up the other ones.

      I’ve always thought that Somewhere Over The Rainbow is one of the finest examples of blending words and music you can ever find.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:55 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Glad you enjoyed it, Don. Unbeknownst to me, your comment came in while I was in the middle of replying to scifihammy’s comment, so my Billy Rose example had already been guessed by you. I guess great minds really do think alike (at least, I prefer that explanation over coincidence, How About You?).


    • mistermuse 9:21 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, scifihammy — I’ll be glad to play “April In Paris”….maybe even before April in Paris (like in my next post). ūüôā

      As for guessing at matching the songwriters’ names, what I meant by “half are guessable even if you don’t know them” is best shown by this example: the real name of the writer of I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING, William Rosenberg, can be deduced from its similarity to his professional name, Billy Rose. Thus, j. is 7. There are several other instances whereby a match can be made by comparing the first and/or last names in the first list with those in the second list.


    • moorezart 9:52 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on From 1 Blogger 2 Another.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:07 am on February 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Many thanks, moorezart. I wonder if a reblog by any other name would smell as sweet? A thorny question indeed. ūüė¶


    • Don Frankel 7:53 am on February 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      That’s a great song by Morris Hyman Kushner but I had to go look that up. When I did I found out that he also wrote the musicals ‘On a Clear Day’ and ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ in addition to a lot of other great songs. I also found out he discovered Francis Gumm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:57 pm on February 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        HOW ABOUT YOU? was indeed composed by Morris Hyman Kushner (aka Burton Lane), with lyrics by Ralph Freed (aka Ralph Freed). I wonder if Francis Gumm (aka Judy Garland) was related to Albert Gumm, composer of TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME? I’ll have to check that out.


    • arekhill1 1:21 pm on February 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Let’s make this about me. I’ve never changed my birth name. One of my many shitty career moves, probably.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:24 pm on February 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Maybe it’s not too late, Ricardo — which, by the way, suggests a name you could change to and gain instant fame: Ricardo Montalban Jr. After all, the original Ricardo Montalban had good luck with it until he died, but that could happen to anyone.


  • mistermuse 12:00 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Harold Arlen, , , lemonade out of lemons, , , rain, , Where is the Sun?   


    He picked up the¬†lemons that Fate had sent him and started a¬†lemonade stand. –Elbert Hubbard, American author and philosopher, 1915

    • * * *¬†* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *¬†* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    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.

    • calmkate 1:54 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Wow three of my favourite performers, well selected!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:51 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Three great songs sung by three great vocalists, backed by three great bands — it doesn’t get any better, if you’re a lover (of Golden Age music and classic jazz). ūüôā

        Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 7:31 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, the great Harold Arlen–how about “Come Rain or Come Shine”?

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:05 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Right on! Speaking of Harold Arlen, he also wrote a little-known song titled SPEAKING OF THE WEATHER (not to mention the very well known OVER THE RAINBOW).

        Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach 8:47 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful songs. But I could do without the rain!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 9:05 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Muse you’re three for three today. I didn’t have that particular recording of Billie Holiday but I do now. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 9:35 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Where’s “Rainy Night in Georgia?” Oh, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFatAWbKow4

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 10:25 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for this Ray Charles classic, Ricardo. Here’s another outstanding rendition of the song by Brook Benton, one of my favorite singers of the sixties (it was his last major hit):


    • Garfield Hug 10:15 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Mistermuse…thank you! So apt and descriptive of my lemony life thus farūüėČ

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 6:58 pm on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      In California rain is looking more like lemonade than lemons after five years of drought.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:04 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        The funny thing about California’s weather is that there are enough different climates for half-a-dozen states, due to its length (770 miles from Mexican border to Oregon border) and topography (from 14,500 ft. above sea level at Mt. Whitney to -279 ft. below sea level at Badwater Basin in Death Valley). Thus. there can be a drought in one area at the same time it’s pouring in another.

        But generalizing about California’s weather apparently didn’t bother Lorenz Hart when he wrote this lyric: “hates California — it’s cold and it’s damp; that’s why The Lady Is A Tramp.” He obviously had San Francisco in mind, to the exclusion of LA LA LAND!


  • mistermuse 5:37 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Harold Arlen, , , , , , , , ,   


    Once upon a time, in a sepia-toned place called Kansas (before landing in the colorful and Merry Old Land of Oz), a girl by the name of Dorothy sang a song called OVER THE RAINBOW. We all (many of us, at any rate) know who sang that song in the film, but the man who composed it is now long past recognition by almost all. He was born on this day (Feb. 15, 1905), and his name was Harold Arlen. This post is simply an appreciation of the man and his music, each of which encompasses much more than one man and one song….for, in those days, popular songs generally did not live by melody alone and were not born of one person alone. Composers/songs needed lyricists/words.

    Arlen himself (according to biographer Edward Jablonski) acknowledged that words – even the title – were just as important as the melody, often saying that “A good lyric writer is the composer’s best friend.” The lyricists who collaborated with Arlen were among the best in the business: Ira Gershwin, Ted Koehler, Johnny Mercer, E.Y.”Yip” Harburg….and the songs they wrote were among the best in popular music history (many of them done for movies and Broadway shows). Here are some of them:

    1930 – GET HAPPY
    1934 – ILL WIND

    But even those who remember Harold Arlen the composer probably do not know that he was also a fine singer who made a number of recordings, such as this one in 1933:

    Harold Arlen died April 23, 1986, but his music should never die.

    • arekhill1 6:57 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If I only had a brain, I’d write something wittier here.


    • mistermuse 7:13 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’d try to respond in kind, Ricardo, but I’d only be grasping at straws.


    • Michaeline Montezinos 11:44 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As I listened to this beautiful voice singing one of many of my favorite songs you had listed, I think I fell into love all over again with this rich and lovely music. Have seen the movie many times. Thank you, mistermuse for awaking the romantic in my soul. It is so sad that Harold Arlen could not become a great vocalist. He certainly deserved that in addition to his career as a lyricist.


    • Joseph Nebus 12:26 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Boy, that is a heck of a list of songs, ins’t it?


    • scifihammy 12:42 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      While I know most of the songs you list, it is as you say, I did not know the composer. Thanks for the enlightenment ūüôā


    • mistermuse 6:26 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” Thank all of you for your comments.


    • Don Frankel 10:29 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You know I remember seeing on TV an older Yip Harburg sitting at a Piano and explaining how he came up with the lyric for Somewhere Over The Rainbow. He played the opening notes on the Piano and showed how he kept thinking of the sound and then how “Somewhere” just seemed to pop out so naturally. It was fascinating.


    • mistermuse 11:39 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, the story of Harbug’s and Arlen’s writing the score for THE WIZARD OF OZ and their difficulties with”Over the Rainbow” is indeed fascinating. My Jan.13 2014 post RAINBOWS FOR CHRISTMAS covers it in some detail, for those interested. Just click January 2014 in the “Archives” column to the right, and scroll down to Jan. 13.


  • mistermuse 11:33 am on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Elysian fields, Harold Arlen, Horace Greeley, Knute Rockne, , Newt Gingrich, , , Sam Goldwyn, , , , , West Virginia, Yes Virginia,   

    SAYS WHO? 

    I really didn’t say everything I said.¬† — Yogi Berra

    Maybe he didn’t….but¬†Yogi¬†did¬†say that he didn’t say everything he said — and it should go without saying that some say he is not¬†the only one who didn’t say¬†everything he said. Sad to say, no way can¬†one say who said what¬†was¬†said in¬†all cases, and always¬†saying who said what one said is¬†way easier said than done. Or so they say.

    That said, the following is a selection of famous quotes not said (or at least not said originally) by those to whom they are attributed, along with some quotes which are correctly attributed (or so they say). Some mis-atributed quotes happened inadvertently, others deliberately; some have persisted despite attempts to set the record straight.  Can you separate the suspect ones from the correct ones?

    1. Go west, young man, go west.¬† –Horace Greeley
    2. Go West, Virginia, yes, Virginia: there is a¬† —Santa Claus
    3. Win one for the Gipper.¬† –Knute Rockne
    4. Win one for the Gingger.¬† –Newt Gingrich
    5. A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.¬† –W. C. Fields
    6. Forget your troubles, come on, get happy.¬† –Elysian Fields
    7. Our comedies are not to be laughed at.¬† –Samuel Goldwyn
    8. Our cold meds are not to be sneezed at.¬† –Dr. Don
    9. Elementary, my dear Watson.¬† –Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
    10. Excelente, my dear Sr. Muse.¬† –Ricardo Cahill (after bribe payment)¬†

    Of the above, the following are attributed incorrectly (supposedly):

    1. Greeley did write this in an 1865 editorial, but denied originating¬†it, crediting it to¬†John Soule’s authorship¬†in¬†a Terre Haute (Indiana)¬†newspaper in 1851.¬†Nonetheless, the Greeley attribution persists.
    3. Actually, this was¬†said by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 film “Knute Rockne – All American.”
    6. Forget Ely Fields¬†– this is the opening lyric of “Get Happy” by Harold Arlen¬†& Ted Koehler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGk3tY4yP7k
    7. Like many “Goldwynisms,” origin is suspect. Reported to be an old Hollywood quip pre-dating its attribution to Goldwyn.
    9. Never said by Holmes in Doyle’s novels and short stories. Made famous by actor Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in movies.

    How many did you get right?
    You got all of them?
    Says who?

    • Don Frankel 6:41 pm on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Just one more Muse. It is said that General Sherman did not say. “War is all hell.” However upon hearing that he had said it, he made sure he kept saying it, until he said it.

      My favorite Yogism is. “Some guys don’t like to swing on an 3 – 0 count because they swing.” I know he said it because I heard him say it.


    • mistermuse 8:48 pm on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, if Yogi said even half of what he said, it would still be twice as funny as all of the other half….speaking of which, since my Yogi and Goldwyn quotes post was un-posted on SWI, maybe I’ll do another one here sometime if I can come up with a fresh angle or approach. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”


      • Don Frankel 5:55 am on January 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Why not post this one on SWI so a few other people like Minnette, Michael, Richard, Kaye and even itsTV or is it VD? guy can get a laugh?


    • mistermuse 10:19 am on January 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, I love ya like my brother (I was tempted to say like my MOTHER, who would keep after me to do something because it was for my own good), but as far as posting again on SWI, you can forgeddaboutit – I can forgive, but I can’t forget Bob Grant’s destruction of 200 of my posts, while not deleting even one of Minnette’s 800+. I know SWI is his site & he can do as he pleases, but if my hard work didn’t warrant more respect (& a more even-handed take) than that, nothing short of an abject apology will change my mind.

      As for the people you mention, Richard reads & comments frequently on my posts here; I don’t think Minnette ever was as much of an “appreciater” of my posts as I am of hers; and I’d love to have Michael and Kaye connect with me here, but they know where to find me if they wish (it’s not as if I haven’t pointed out how easy it is on SWI a number of times).

      Finally, it would be remiss of me not to thank you and Ricardo (or Richard, for you gringos out there) for continuing to follow my “humble” offerings here. Your continued patronage is warmly appreciated.


      • Don Frankel 12:16 pm on January 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Forgive me for being a nudge. My social psychological profile is like an Alpha in a Grey Wolf pack. So my instinct is to keep the Pack together. You are an integral part of SWI. The way I see it Bob may own and run the site but like everything else in life, SWI belongs to its ownself. It is what we make of it.

        I think you give Bob too much credit or say or sway or importance. One time some woman, I forget who but she didn’t write there much, but she said in a comment that I was trying to make her behave. After I stopped laughing and stopped myself from writing back. Do you want me to make you behave? I just chalked it up to everybody has a right to say whatever or “everybody has to love somebody sometime.”

        Sorry about that last one but Dean Martin was singing on my cable TV. I’d close by saying I won’t nag you anymore but I can’t promise that..


    • mistermuse 1:19 pm on January 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      No problem, Don – I don’t have a brother to love you like I said anyway (though I do have a sister, if you don’t mind the gender adjustment). And you can rely on me, if you do “nag” me again, not to say what that woman said in her comment to you; my reply will simply be a youtube clip of Cole Porter’s “Why Can’t You Behave?” from KISS ME KAYE – I mean KATE.


  • mistermuse 11:25 am on January 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blacklist, Burton Lane, Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead, , , Harold Arlen, If I Only Had A Brain, L. Frank Baum, , , The Merry Old Land Of Oz, We're Off To See The Wizard, ,   


    My melodies always sounded better with a Yip Harburg lyric.¬† –Burton Lane, composer (Finian’s Rainbow)


    I have the rainbow reflection of Yip Harburg’s lyrics¬†on, and in, my mind as¬†I write this review of a biography I received for Christmas. The book, titled Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz?¬†¬†was co-written by his son, Ernie Harburg, and Harold Meyerson….but in a sense, it was written by Yip himself, suffused as it is with¬†the words of his songs, his¬†quotes and, above all,¬†his spirit.

    Yip, as you no doubt know if you know anything about the Golden Age of popular music and movies¬†in America, is the man who put the rainbow in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz¬†(as well as¬†in the 1947 Broadway musical¬†Finian’s Rainbow).¬†Actually, there was no reference to a¬†rainbow¬†in the book on which the film is based, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). The idea of a rainbow was the creation of Yip Harburg, who “told Harold [composer Harold Arlen] about it and we went to work on a tune.” That “tune” was,¬†of course, Over The Rainbow, which went on to win¬† the Academy Award for Best Original Song and was named #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 top songs. How hard was it to write? It was the first song in the film, but the last to be written, after the whole score had been finished: a score which included We’re Off To See The Wizard, The Merry Old Land Of Oz, If I Only Had A Brain, If I Were King of The Forest¬†and Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead.

    But….the witch wasn’t dead. Little did Yip know that little more than a decade later, he would be off to see the witch hunters of the McCarthy era and blacklisted for suspected Communist sympathies (he was never a Communist Party member, though¬†admittedly¬†“an avowed democratic¬†socialist,” which wasn’t/isn’t unlawful but was and¬†continues to be conflated with Communism in some circles, even today). Shunned by Hollywood, TV¬†and radio throughout the 1950s, Harburg still had standing on Broadway, but his shows never again attained his previous success.

    In addition to his creative talent¬†and sense of social justice, Harburg had a great sense of humor: One of the things that bothered me about my society was that there were so many problems in the world. My approach to solving these problems was to make people see the folly of them, the foibles of them, or the mythology of them. If you look at them like Puck in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and say, “What fools these mortals be,” then you can make people laugh and see their follies.
    That doesn’t say humor is the only approach. Everybody approaches his art through his own psyche and methods. I am giving you mine. My approach is through satire because humor is the greatest solvent that I know of. It takes the arrogance out of people. We all hear many different political views. People disagree so strongly they even want to kill each other.

    Just as Harburg’s¬†socialism ran afoul¬†of political spoilsports like Joseph McCarthy, so his humor was hounded by the Hayes Office (Hollywood’s censorship czar) in the late 1930s. The following song, which he wrote for Groucho Marx in AT THE CIRCUS, ¬†was censored until he added a final verse (listen for it) to legitimize it. Say, have you met Lydia?


    • Daniel Fergus Tamulonis 3:32 pm on January 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      How extraordinary and welcome are your thoughtful comments on Harburg and his refreshing look at the world. The Harlem Repertory Theatre is in the middle of producing a double bill of “Finian’s Rainbow and Flahooley, both with books and lyrics by Harburg. The latter was written in response to Harburg’s grossly unfair treatment in Hollywood and truly Puck-like, he thumbs his nose at the injustices of those witch hunts. If you are anywhere near New York City, please pay us a visit and thank you for your comments. Your prose merits at least a free front row seat! (Tell them I told you so!)
      Sincerely and gratefully …


    • mistermuse 5:12 pm on January 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am extremely pleased by your comment, Daniel, and would certainly take you up on your invitation to visit if I lived anywhere near NYC, but unfortunately I do not. It is good to know that “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Flahooley” are still alive and well at The Harlem Repertory Theatre, and I urge my blog friends in the area to pay you a visit in my stead and enjoy the show. Look to the Rainbow!


    • Don Frankel 5:06 am on January 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I actually saw Harburg on TV getting interviewed years ago. He was explaining how he had come up with the lyrics to Somewhere over the Rainbow. He was playing the opening notes and showing how the word somewhere seemed to be the only word to fit. It was priceless. You don’t get to see stuff like that very often.


    • mistermuse 4:52 am on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don. The book of which I write in this post devotes over four pages just to the difficulty Harburg and Arlen had writing this song, including this Harburg quote: “he [Arlen] gave me a tune with those first two notes an octave apart. I tried I’ll go over the rainbow, Someday over the rainbow [etc.]. For a while I thought I would just leave those first two notes out.. It was a long time before I came to Somewhere over the rainbow.”

      I would love to have seen that interview you saw.


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