EAST MEETS WEST DAY

EAST IS EAST, AND WEST IS WEST, AND NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. –Rudyard Kipling

The above quote notwithstanding, it’s not too late if you want to meet Twain. Forget East/West, and return to the site of my previous post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP), where Twain still lives. I could quibble that you should have met him there then, but I am magnanimous enough to forgive those of you who didn’t read that post (so long as you promise never to let it happen again).

Be that as it may, this is April — April 24th, to be exact, which just happens to be East Meets West Day, which just happens to give me an excuse to engross you with some of my favorite East and/or West songs, such as this old standard by an old favorite:

Keely Smith (born Dorothy Keely) died four months ago at age 89, one of the best (though underappreciated) female vocalists of the 1950s-60s.

Next, we change directions for this Kurt Weill classic from the 1943 musical ONE TOUCH OF VENUS:

Let us end, fittingly, with WEST END BLUES by Louis Armstrong, one of the all-time great recordings in jazz history:

That performance was recorded in 1928; 90 years later, you can travel far and wide, east and west, and never the same shall meet.

 

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MORE “WHO KNEW THEY COULD SING?” STARS

My last post included a clip of Bette Davis singing — adding to previous clips of Golden Age Hollywood stars Jimmy Stewart and Alan Ladd, who few knew could sing. But wait! There’s more! Thanks to the magic of the silver screen, I’ve uncovered more black & white clips of bygone Hollywood heartthrobs who sang like nobody’s business, and I’ve made it my business to offer the first of these hidden gems to you for a song (and dance):

Thank you, Fred Astaire (alias Clark Gable). Next, we have another hunk from OUT OF THE PAST, Robert Mitchum, whose very next picture, RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948), includes this scene with co-stars Loretta Young and William Holden:

We bring down the curtain on this triple feature with that devil-may-care swashbuckler and fun-hero of such films as CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and THE SEA HAWK, Errol Flynn:

What’s that you say — you didn’t get your bloody money’s worth?  Well, that’s a laugh. You should thank your lucky stars for what you jolly well get!

 

 

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH AND ALL THAT JAZZ (PART II)

In this follow-up to my previous post, rather than go into a more detailed history which might bore those with only a passing interest in classic jazz and pop music of the period, I’ve decided to stick to clips of the era’s all-girl bands, with minimum commentary.

Some of you may recall that I once published a post with a clip of Jimmy Stewart, of all people, singing. Here’s a clip of an all-girl band featuring a vocal by another actor you’ve probably never heard sing:

Speaking of “never heard,” here’s an all-girl band even I had never heard before:

Last but luscious, jazz writer George T. Simon called this gal “Without a doubt, the sexiest of all the big bandleaders….waving her baton in a languorous, seductive sort of way [and] weaving her torso in her magnificent, undulating manner,” INA RAY HUTTON (if you were hoping for more, stay tuned for the announcement at the close of the clip):

HELLO, YON READERS, WHOEVER YOU ARE

[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):

GOODBYE AGAIN

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

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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).

 

THE DEAD HAVE SPOKEN….

There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough. –Irwin Shaw, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and author of Bury The Dead

The dead have spoken….
but the living have moved on.
Hear their voices left in your mind,
keep their memories in the images
that are reborn in shared solitude.
Who among us has not known the haunting fear,
whispering we might not survive the silence?

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: