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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: children's song, , Jimmy McHugh, Mitchell Parsih, , Teddy Bears' Picnic,   


    After this post, I will be taking a break from posting until July 15, which (among other things) will hopefully let me catch up on some things I never seem to find time to get to. As it happens, however, the next date on which I would have been posting (July 10) is the birthday of two men of whom I would write on that date if I were to write on that date…. AND if I hadn’t already written of them on that date in previous years. But, since I won’t write on that date, the least I can do on this date is write about why I’m not writing on that date. As for what I might otherwise have written on this date, I can write that post on another date, but that date is not this date….or is it this date is not that date? Whatever.

    Be that as it may, the two men whose names I won’t mention on this or that date are two GIANTS of popular music’s Golden Age, of whom I wrote on 7/10/15 & 7/10/14:



    But enough of what this post on that date is not about — I now find (just in time to save the day) that July 10 is also TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC DAY. As you may know, the Teddy Bear has an interesting history dating back to Teddy Roosevelt:

    The Teddy bears’ picnic [illustrated]

    As shown in the above clip, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic song was composed in 1907 as an instrumental, which it remained until Irish lyricist Jimmy Kennedy added words in 1932, when it was recorded (with vocal chorus) by a British orchestra. Subsequently, it became a popular children’s song:

    There you have it, boys and girls….that wasn’t too unbearable, was it? And so, with apologies to July 5 for using this day to write about July 10, I look forward to returning on July 15 to again make much ado about nothing — or nothing about much ado. Whatever.


    • Cynthia Jobin 12:16 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I remember singing Teddy Bears’ Picnic as a child…..but here’s one of the things I thought it said: “If you go down in the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise/ If you go down in the woods today you’d better go in the skies….” [instead of “in disguise”] I thought I should have to go in the Piper Cub that my Dad flew recreationally after his stint in the naval air corps….

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 4:37 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Cynthia, I’m guessing that’s but one of many fond memories you have of your childhood, and I appreciate your sharing it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • carmen 2:48 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I hope you have a great break, mistermuse! And that your much to do gets done! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 4:43 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Carmen. They say a woman’ work is never done, but it’s a curious thing — neither is a muse’s.


    • Richard Cahill 10:27 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck with your ten day mission, Sr. Muse! Hopefully it is to the International Space Station. I’ve always wanted to go.


    • mistermuse 11:14 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Gracias for your good wishes, Ricardo. I’m not planning on going to the International Space Station, but if I were, I would definitely send you a postcard (assuming I could afford the postage).


    • Don Frankel 4:24 pm on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Today in response to a comment from Richard the IVth, I said that something he said was more than I could bear. That’s before I read this. Anyway enjoy the hiatus.


    • mistermuse 7:05 pm on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don, I’ll still be checking in occasionally to try to keep up with other posts and comments.


  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Harold Adamson, hit songs of the 1920s-1940s, , , , Jimmy McHugh, , , , V-Discs   


    This post isn’t about what you may think it’s about (like maybe mountain climbing, drugs or seduction). No, friends — just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge the title of a post by its lover.

    And what am I a lover of? Faithful readers know that from time to time, I indulge my love for 1920s-1940s popular music/jazz with a post honoring a songwriting giant of that era (forgotten though he or she may be today). Dec. 10 is the birthday of one such songwriter, and this is such a post (sorry about the letdown).

    Lyricist Harold Adamson was born on this date in 1906. He studied law at Harvard, but songwriting had a greater appeal and, as luck (and talent) would have it, his first published song became an all-time standard: Time On My Hands, written for the 1930 stage show SMILES, starring Fred and Adele Astaire….and who better to do it justice than Billie Holiday, backed by Teddy Wilson, Lester Young & other jazz greats:

    Working with such composers as Jimmy McHugh, Vincent Youmans, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Vernon Duke and Victor Young, Adamson went on to write lyrics to such hits as Manhattan Serenade, Everything I Have Is Yours, It’s A Wonderful World, It’s A Most Unusual Day and many more. Here, from the 1936 film SUZY starring Jean Harlow and a very young Cary Grant, is one of Adamson’s lesser known songs (and the only time Cary Grant ever sang in a movie):

    In 1943 (at the height of WW II), Adamson teamed with McHugh to write the songs for Frank Sinatra’s first starring movie, HIGHER AND HIGHER. Quoting McHugh:

    Adamson and I trekked into our office at RKO and found the script glaring coldly at us from the top of the piano. It informed us that there’d be a minor lover’s quarrel in the story, also the need of a big production number. Nothing happened with us that first day, but at 3 a.m. the next morning, Adamson phoned me and said he’d been listening to a musical shortwave program that suddenly had been cut off for a news announcement.
    “There’s our title for the production number, Jim,” he said, “The Music Stopped.”
    Then I began concentrating on the lovers’ spat and came down with insomnia. As the thousandth  sheep jumped over the fence, both tune and title landed: “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night.”

    But to my mind, the best of the McHugh-Adamson songs from that film is this one:

    Note that the above recording is a V-Disc, which is a story in itself. James Petrillo, head of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), had called a national ban on recording by its members in 1942, meaning no new recordings could be made by commercial record companies using AFM musicians. To get around this ban, songs were recorded a capella, without instrumental accompaniment. However, there was an exception for records, called V-Discs, made for American troops overseas….thus the orchestral accompaniment for this song from the film’s CBS rehearsal session was recorded as a V-Disc. This, and many other V-Discs, survive to this day because, although such discs were supposed to be off-limits in the U.S., this edict was largely ignored by returning GIs.

    I close at the bottom of  this HIGHER AND HIGHER post with the title song from TOP OF THE TOWN, a film with screenplay co-written by humorist Robert Benchley:






    • linnetmoss 7:45 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful! Especially the incomparable Cary Grant. I didn’t realize he ever sang in a film 🙂 He’s not bad! Also love the Axel Stordahl years of Sinatra. My kind of music.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:10 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree – Cary Grant’s singing of “Did I Remember?” is not only “not bad,” it’s a sheer delight. And it was indeed Alex Stordahl who arranged and conducted the orchestra in the Sinatra V-Disc.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.


    • Resa 4:40 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A truly fabulous post! Enjoyed Billie & Jean & Cary immensely.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:14 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much!


    • Don Frankel 8:07 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Where did it go? I posted a comment here and poof. Maybe I didn’t hit the right button.

      Anyway I was surprised to hear Cary Grant sing and I wondered what army he was in. I mean it looked like he was wearing one of Major Strasser’s uniforms.


    • mistermuse 11:46 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, as someone who has had his share of comments disappear into cyberspace, I offer my makes-my-blood-boil-to-think-of-it condolences. May the cyberspace gods become blinded by the brilliance of our missing comments and get lost forever in the netherworld of their perfidious malevolence (or worse — if this comment doesn’t get through).

      As for Cary Grant, he played a French aviator in the film, and Jean Harlow is an American showgirl in Paris as WW I begins. As I recall, the film isn’t as good as it should’ve been (given that it was co-scripted by Dorothy Parker), but the song “Did I Remember” did get an Academy Award nomination.


    • literaryeyes 10:05 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I saw a film last night, apropos of the 1920s-40s, starring Deanna Durbin. She sang “Night and Day” and hit the right tone on the nuances. Some of those old “movie stars” could sing.


    • mistermuse 12:49 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I own well over a dozen Deanna Durbin records (both 78s & LPs) and love her voice. I don’t think NIGHT AND DAY is her best song, though I like the “big finish” she gives it in the film (her orchestral accompaniment doesn’t seem right for the song, which doesn’t help). It’s not that she doesn’t sing it well – it’s just that I’ve heard it sung better by others.


    • RMW 2:55 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Just listening to Cary Grant sing made me high… too bad he didn’t sing in more movies… he was one of a kind!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:53 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      And to think his real name was Archibald Leach!
      But you’re right – he was a “peach.”

      Liked by 1 person

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


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

      Oh, that’s wonderful. Thanks.


    • 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.


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