March being Women’s History Month, and mistermuse being a classic jazz enthusiast, I’d be remiss to let this conjunction of constellations pass without honoring women’s place in jazz history. Though I can’t expound on these subjects at length in one post, I’ll highlight my favorite period in jazz history — the 1920s, 30s and 40s — and the all-girl bands of that time, as opposed to female jazz vocalists of the period, because the latter are much better known (Billie Holiday, for example) than the former, and their legacy has far better survived that era’s male-dominated world of jazz and popular music.

Starting with the 1920’s, here is one of the first and foremost all-girl bands of the period:

Moving on to the 1930s & 40s….

As the latter clip demonstrates, African-American female musicians faced not only gender, but racial, discrimination — not so much from white musicians as from the powers behind the scenes and the general public….and not just in the South. The were exceptions, but the best jazz musicians didn’t sweat skin color — if you could play, you should play.

There is much more that could be said along the lines of this post; perhaps I’ll do so in a future post.




[Composer Richard] Rodgers was particularly annoyed by what seemed to him Hammerstein’s dilatory attitude when it came to writing lyrics. So his way of dealing with the situation would be to punish his partner with silence when the long-awaited lyrics finally arrived. One of the most difficult songs Hammerstein ever wrote was “Hello, Young Lovers,” a poignant musing about a past love that is one of the high points of THE KING AND I. It took him five weeks of struggle, but he eventually had something he felt proud of. He sent the lyrics by special messenger to Rodgers, with instructions to wait for an answer, but no answer came. After four days, Rodgers called on another matter and, at the very end, said that, by the way, the lyrics were fine. Then he hung up. They were four of the most painful days of Hammerstein’s life. –from SOMEWHERE FOR ME, A BIOGRAPHY OF RICHARD RODGERS, by Meryle Secrest

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Of all the pre-R&R songs in popular music with “Hello” in the title, no doubt the one with the most staying power has been Rodgers and Hammerstein’s HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS. Thus, it is with that evergreen that we begin this selection of “Hello” songs:

Next, we turn from ever green to avian blue:

We close with a question (or two or three) for all you lovely ladies out there (but you must play the song to hear the questions):


AUF WIEDERSEHEN (German): until we meet again, a temporary farewell or goodbye

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In a comment to my last post, I included a clip of a great German vocal group singing AUF WIEDERSEH’N, MY DEAR (a 1932 composition by American songwriters, not to be confused with AUF WIEDERSEH’N, SWEETHEART, a song which was a hit in 1952).

As it happens, there are a number of “goodbye” songs, but some are more extreme than others. For example, the Italian composer Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) wrote a famous (in his day) song titled GOODBYE, in which that word appears ten times, including five times in the last two lines:

What are we waiting for, you and I?
A pleading look, a stifled cry.
Goodbye, forever! Goodbye, forever!
Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!

Bye and bye, such an effusive edict of terminal temerity caused famed black vaudeville comedian Bert Williams no end of alarm:

And then, amigo mio, there’s the Spanish word for goodbye, which has a more soothing sound….unless you happen to be a gringo facing a bandito….

….which would be enough to give anyone the….

THE END (but comments are open, if you have any final thoughts).


It does not matter much what a man hates provided he hates something. –Samuel Butler

Some time ago, after I’d written a number of posts lampooning America’s vainglorious leader, I was asked by a reader why I “hate” Donald Trump. I replied that I didn’t hate him, I pitied him — pitied him for being the kind of human being he is. In hindsight, I should have asked the reader, Does Trump hate those he insults? — i.e. “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lightweight” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (I suppose the Senator should be grateful Trump didn’t call her heavyweight), etc., etc., etc. My answer (and, I assume, that reader’s) is no — hate is something deeply felt, not a juvenile slur. Trump’s mocking is strictly gratuitous, like a bully who must put down anyone who, in his world, is a “loser” — someone in his way; an inconvenient object to be diminished or pushed aside. It’s not even personal (a “loser” is but an abstraction).

So, in deference to Samuel Butler, should I apologize for not hating Trump — or anyone, for that matter? Truth be known, the closest I come to hating anyone is God….that is, if I believed in God — the biblical God, the invented God of wrath, innocent suffering and mystifying absence. But I am a ‘default’ deist, left with a creator God, an impersonal God, a God with nothing to explain — at least, not until the next life (if there is one). The creator God never said a word or promised us anything — not on earth or after. Perhaps I should be jealous, for, unlike the creator God, there are times (like now) when this only-human creator feels the need to explain what I create. And yet, I get not deigning to explain — explaining ain’t easy. If I were God or Trump, I might not explain myself either.





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:


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)
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.



The first three posts in this series have been monopolized by guys, so what…do you say we turn to the gals for amusement? What a muse meant by that remark is more songs of the same type, but with ladies leading the way — as with this girl-before-boy title tune:

Beatrice Kay (1907-86), for the benefit of those who have never been to She-boy-gan, Paducah, Elmira, or Tacoma, was a NYC-born singer specializing in parodies of songs which, in some cases, have seen better days — but then, haven’t we all?

The quarrel of the story is that no matter what depths of depravity women fall into, men are to blame for it all (with the possible exception of mistermuse’s male followers). Therefore….

So, men, let us close by resolving to resist lady fingers, she’s-cake and all other such she-nanigans (no matter how tempting), O-Kay? However, this does not mean that Part 04 is the end of this series. If that’s what you were thinking, I have news for youse guys: it’s not over until the fat lady sings. You’ll have to wait 4 Part 05 be4 that happens.