F-STOPS

This sixth post in my alphabetical series of ‘femme de lettres’ songs shouldn’t take long because, frankly, feminine names with F in the song title are few and far between. As good fortune would have it, however, the slim pickins include this familiar favorite:

FRANKIE AND JOHNNY (not Cash) go back to the turn of the last century. I think some, if not most, of my readers would find the story behind this old love-gone-wrong song downright interestin’, so I’ll stop for a spell to link to it here:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/78308/story-behind-frankie-and-johnny

Speaking of “behind” songs, let’s go with FANNY (title song of the 1954 play and 1961 film) as the last stop of our run on post #6. It seems a sitting place to end:

 

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THE NAME OF THIS SONG IS DINAH!

A favorite of jazz musicians ever since it first appeared in 1925, DINAH has been recorded hundreds of times, and yet, practically nobody remembers who wrote it. As they sing on some of the old records,”The name of this song is Dinah,” and it was written by HARRY AKST.Warren Vaché, author, THE UNSUNG SONGWRITERS

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If you Akst me: of all the girl’s name songs beginning with D, is there any one finer than DINAH? I’d sigh, “DAH! Not in the state of Carolina!” Composed by Harry Akst (lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young), the song “is so relaxed and without pretense, it’s almost as if it simply happened rather than was written” — so writes Alec Wilder in his book AMERICAN POPULAR SONG. I agree, to the tune of two hearings, starting with this animated effort by

If you think #1 was animated, #2 is even more so:

Let’s wrap it up with a favorite by a real Dinah — the great Dinah Washington, singing a song which takes me back to my 1960 basic training days at Fort Knox, KY, where I first heard her original 1959 recording on a ‘blue’ evening at the PX. Can you place the MC*?

*The MC (emcee) in this 1960 clip was future U.S. President Ronald Reagan. PX, for the benefit of life-long residents of the DMZ (demilitarized zone), stands for Post Exchange.

C NOTES

In American slang, C notes are $100 bills. In this, the third in our song series of girl’s names in alphabetical order, C notes are the sound of music recalling the Cins of our past….such as this scintillating folk song sung by Johnny Cash (sharing credit with Cave):

From toe-tapping folk song to glass-slippered fairy tale, Cin is transported 78 rpm, perchance to dance with a smitten Prince Charming imploring her….

When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked if they had been well diverted, and if the fine lady had been there. They told her: Yes, but that she hurried away immediately when it struck twelve, and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the King’s son had taken up; that he had done nothing but look at her all the time at the ball, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the glass slipper.

And so you see, young ladies, all you need is a fairy tale fairy godmother and you too can meet a Prince of a fella!

 

 

B C-ING YOU (NO B S)

What do Bonnie and Clyde do?

What do mistermuse do?

He posits posts you can bank on for interest, though short term in sum cases (sumtimes as little as two seconds). If you’re thinking in terms of interest that goes on and on, read The Bard or The Donald (depending on whether you’re more attuned to Bill Shakespeare or Bull Shit).

For this particular caper, we stick up — I mean pick up — from the initial A, where our girl’s-name songs left off….this time killing two letters (B and C) with one post. For our B song, off to BONNIE SCOTLAND we go:

As long as we B in Scotland, we might as well C in Scotland:

OK, so CLYDE isn’t a girl’s name — not a minor detail, I confess. I am thus forced to acknowledge that selecting the ideal song isn’t as simple as A-B-C — our girl C will have to wait until my next post after all. I Be C-ing you then (Lord willing and the river don’t rise).

THE SPELL OF GIRLS

Four months ago today, a 12 year old girl by the name of Ananya Vinay won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. Happening that her first name begins with “A” leads to a question which leads to where this post is headed:

For some time now, I’ve been kicking around in my head the idea of a series of posts featuring old songs, each title of which is (or includes) a girl’s first name, beginning with “A” and continuing through the alphabet. I’ve hesitated to put this idea to the test for several reasons, the main one being that I question whether there is much of an audience today for one of my passions, namely old songs (loosely defined as 50+ years old). But then I thought: THE SPELL WITH IT! It’s my party….

So let’s get started. Fitting as it would be to get on the A Train with a song titled “Ananya,” I regret to say I know no such song. So I’m going to go with a gal who’s even older than I am, MISS ANNABELLE LEE. Hey, if she was good enough for Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote a famous poem titled ANNABELLE LEE, she’s good enough for me:

BOOKS RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY

The Public Library near where I live held a one-day used book sale recently. I got there shortly after it opened in the morning, hoping to find a book or two of interest. A few minutes later, I learned that a man had donated (for this sale) his collection of 500 old books on one of my favorite subjects: the movies, including biographies of directors and actors, movie history, Hollywood, the stories behind some of the great films,  etc. I ended up selecting almost 50 of those books, filling two large boxes at a cost of $10 a box. It’s been a long time since fortune favored me with so bounteous a cache for so little cash.

So now, on top of already owning a not-inconsequential number of unexplored tomes, I find myself even more bogged down with unread books I need to find time to read…..or, at minimum, get to a place where I can see daylight at the end of the bog. Therefore, I’m going to skip a post or two in my usual post-every-five-days schedule.

In the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return” — sometime in December, presupposing I won’t still be SWAMPED/haven’t gone blind. See ya later, alley-gators….

At least, that’s the time-frame in my crystal ball, but in my Lorenz Hart of hearts, who knows….

ALLEY BABBLE AND THE FORTY THEMES

As we have noted, out of the cacophony and babble of pre-WWI Tin Pan Alley came the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age (not to mention Prohibition, 1920-33). If any one song could be said to capture the pulse (and become the anthem) of this dynamic cultural shift, it has to be George Gershwin’s RHAPSODY IN BLUE, written in 1924 and heard (in part) here at the outset of Woody Allen’s paean of a movie to a place called MANHATTAN:

RHAPSODY IN BLUE was commissioned by band leader Paul Whiteman and introduced to the world by his orchestra (with Gershwin himself at the piano) at NYC’s Aeolian Hall on Feb. 12, 1924. It subsequently served as Whiteman’s theme song — theme songs being a virtual prerequisite for big bands and dance bands of the 1930s. One ‘whiff’ of a familiar opening theme song immediately identified a band to radio listeners, and set the stage for a band’s performances at ballrooms, dance halls and other venues wherever they played.

There were literally hundreds of bands big and small, sweet and swing, hot and not, in the decade leading up to WW II. Of these, I’ll list 40 whose theme songs were (in my opinion) well chosen or well known, followed by your match-the-band-with-the-theme-song quiz (just kidding; that would be like s’posin’* I could match today’s artists with their hit songs — forgeddabouddit!). So just rest easy and enjoy the clips of a few selections from the list.

Louis Armstrong — WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH
Gus Arnheim — SWEET AND LOVELY
Count Basie — ONE O’CLOCK JUMP
Bunny Berrigan — I CAN’T GET STARTED
Lou Breese — BREEZIN’ ALONG WITH THE BREEZE
Willie Bryant — IT’S OVER BECAUSE WE’RE THROUGH
Billy Butterfield — WHAT’S NEW?
Cab Calloway — MINNIE THE MOOCHER
Benny Carter — MELANCHOLY LULLABY
Tommy Dorsey — I’M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU
Sonny Dunham — MEMORIES OF YOU

Duke Ellington — TAKE THE ‘A’ TRAIN
Skinnay Ennis — GOT A DATE WITH AN ANGEL
Ted Fio Rito — RIO RITA
Benny Goodman — LET’S DANCE
Glen Gray — SMOKE RINGS
Johnny Green — HELLO, MY LOVER, GOODBYE
Bobby Hackett — EMBRACEABLE YOU

George Hall — LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND
Lionel Hampton — FLYIN’ HOME
Coleman Hawkins — BODY AND SOUL
Ina Ray Hutton — GOTTA HAVE YOUR LOVE
Jack Hylton — SHE SHALL HAVE MUSIC
Harry James — CIRIBIRIBIN
Art Jarrett — EVERYTHING’S BEEN DONE BEFORE
Isham Jones — YOU’RE JUST A DREAM COME TRUE
Dick Jurgens — DAY DREAMS COME TRUE AT NIGHT
Ted Lewis — WHEN MY BABY SMILES AT ME
Little Jack Little — LITTLE BY LITTLE
Guy Lombardo — AULD LANG SYNE
Wingy Manone — ISLE OF CAPRI
Johnny Messner — CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS
Eddie Miller — LAZY MOOD (sung here by Johnny Mercer with Eddie Miller’s band)

Glenn Miller — MOONLIGHT SERENADE
Lucky Millender — RIDE, RED, RIDE
Vaughn Monroe — RACING WITH THE MOON
Leo Reisman — WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?
Buddy Rogers — MY BUDDY
Jack Teagarden — I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES
Fred Waring — SLEEP

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* S’POSIN’ was a 1929 hit song; it is, of course, a ‘traction (contraction) of SUPPOSING