KISS HER IN THE KISSER AND MAKE UP

My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can. –Cary Grant

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August 25 is KISS AND MAKE UP DAY. In the Cary Grant spirit of occupying myself as best I can, I thought I’d present an assemblage of good old-fashioned “kiss and make up” goodies (the idea being, if you don’t love my premise, you can kiss my assortment). Let’s start with Cary’s take on make-up, which (as you can see) I’m not making up:

Well, apparently Cary never did make up with that gal, because here he is two years later, singing another love song to another gal:

It seems that Cary would rather play the field than kiss and make up. Let us therefore pick a dilly of a ditty less playboy-like in character:

So much for the guys. I give the last word to the gals (they usually have it anyway):

Kiss and make up — but too much makeup has ruined many a kiss. –Mae West

Kiss & make up. Maybe making out for a few minutes would help us figure things out. –Katie Anderson

In trying to get our own way, we should remember that kisses are sweeter than whine. –Ann Nonymous

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SPRING CLINGING

There’s something bad in everything good: when spring comes, can spring cleaning be far behind? — Evan Esar

Spring has come, but in my sequestered domain, this doesn’t mean spring cleaning must follow. Though my closets be crammed and my drawers be loaded — make that cluttered — I’ll have no problem leaving spring cleaning far behind (even if others stink otherwise).

Now, I’m not saying that spring cleaning doesn’t have its place. For example, it might be worth the bother if you’re young and in love:

Speaking of “young love,” how old do you think the above song is? If you guessed it dates back to the ‘Golden Age’ of popular music (1920s, 30s, 40s), welcome to one of my happy places. If you’re thinking I’m clinging to the best of those romantic old songs out of naught but nostalgia, nothing could be further from the youth — my guileless youth that Father Time gradually re-placed. But suppose the mature me were unable to relate to the ever-young work of, say, Twain, Stevenson and Swift — it wouldn’t be that their writing has become outdated.  I would simply have lost the capacity to appreciate its timelessness.

In like manner, whether it be seen as ‘gilding the lily’ of youth or burnishing the harmony of maturity, I still think of the oldies as younger than springtime….and on that note, I’ll tune out:

 

THIS POST IS FOR THE BARDS

Larry was writing rhyme at the age of six; by 1910 [age 15], he’d been christened “Shakespeare” by friends. [He had] a passion for Shakespeare, a delight in wordplay, and a fondness for anachronistic juxtaposition. Not for nothing was Hart known as “Shakespeare.” –Dominick Symonds, author of WE’LL HAVE MANHATTAN (subtitled THE EARLY WORK OF RODGERS & HART)

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My previous post featured the words and music of Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart, which — along with the above — conveniently serve as segue into Shakespearean speculation:

BARD’S TUNE

What would William
have done with jazz?
Would he take jazz
where no one has?

Would jazz-you-like-
it, he accost?
Would he find jazz
love’s labor lost?

Would he have played
jazz instrument
measure for meas-
ure, or hell bent?

Or would he have,
a jazz voice, been —
the ‘King of Sing’
of noted men?

No! Peerless bard,
writer of wrongs —
if you dug jazz….
you’d write the songs.

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BARDSTOWN

is an itty-bitty city in my neighboring state of Kentucky, voted “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” and noted for its annual KENTUCKY BOURBON FESTIVAL, MUSEUM OF WHISKEY, and MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME STATE PARK, site of the farm which inspired Stephen Foster to write “My Old Kentucky Home” (the state song of Kentucky).

http://www.visitbardstown.com/

I find the story of Stephen Foster most interesting, starting with the date of his birth: July 4, 1826 — the same day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart. Foster was a dreamer whose love of music trumped more profitable ways of earning a living. Though he composed almost 200 songs (many of them popular in his own time), his last years were marked by poverty, a craving for liquor, and suffering from what may have been tuberculosis, dying 153 years and one week ago today (Jan. 13, 1864).

Foster can truly be considered the original bard of American music, as this 1946 quote by the late American composer and music critic, Deems Taylor, suggests:

What quality have they [Foster’s songs] that gives them such tremendous staying power? After all, other men in his day wrote songs that were as popular as his, possibly more so. What was his secret? It was, I think, that he helped fill a gap that had always existed in our musical culture. Our ancestors, coming here from all quarters of the globe, brought with them the folk songs of their native lands, but they were not peculiarly ours. It is ironic that the only race that developed a folksong literature in this country is the race that was brought here against its will, and was and has been the most brutally exploited of all — the Negro. The Negro spirituals and Stephen Foster’s songs are the nearest to completely indigenous folksongs that we have. Nor is it a coincidence that most of the best of his songs are in Negro dialect and sing the woes of the Negro. 

But I will close, in keeping with the theme of recent posts, with one of Foster’s love songs:

 

THIS POST IS FOR THE WORDS (AND MUSIC)

“They had a story written that at times impinged on the truth, but not very often.” –Richard Rodgers (re Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s filming of the 1948 Rodgers & Hart biopic WORDS AND MUSIC)

The Hollywoodized version of the life of Rodgers and Hart may be for the birds regarding the facts of their life, but above and beyond the cornball script are such treats for the ears as Betty Garrett, Judy Garland and Lena Horne singing those sophisticated R & H songs. But at least — though MGM had no conscience with regard to the narrative — they took no liberties with respect to Hart’s Words And Rodgers’ Music.

Without further ado, then, on with the show. Carrying forward the theme of the previous post, here are (you have my word) three great ‘love’ songs from WORDS AND MUSIC:

But wait — you want unadulterated love and sophistication? R & H had nothing on Cole Porter:

A HEALTHY DOSE OF FATS (PART TWO)

Once in a great while the jazz world produces an artist who is able to achieve wide commercial success while operating on a high musical level. Such a man was Thomas “Fats” Waller, pianist, singer, composer and humorist. –Mike Lipshin, Harlem Stride Pianist, music director and documentary producer

If one thing could be said to stand out above all else in the performances of Fats Waller, it was the joy in him, the pure joy of being alive despite having to abide the overt racism of his time. He was both amusing and an amused observer, laughing at the mores of the world and at himself laughing at the world. When it came to love songs, he had fun not only with banal, but often with superior, love songs. Not for nothing was Fats called The Clown Prince of Jazz.

We stride on now with Part Two of the Fats Waller Documentary, narrated by his son, Maurice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91kj5zp5IrA