"More addictive than a goddam video game" - Balloon Juice

"One of my very favorite music blogs ever..." - Singer/Songwriter Emma Wallace

"Fascinating... really GREAT!!! You'll learn things about those tunes we all LOVE to play and blow on... SOD is required reading for my advanced students. It's fun, too!" - Nick Mondello of
AllAboutJazz.com

"I never let a day go by without checking it." - Bob Madison of Dinoship.com

"I had dinner the other night with some former WNEW staff members who spoke very highly of your work." - Joe Fay

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

By Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane
1944

One of the most popular and performed Christmas songs of all time, this beauty was written for Judy Garland to sing in the musical film Meet Me in St. Louis. The lyrics at the time were quite morose, but a 1957 version by Frank Sinatra modified the lyrics a bit, and these lyrics have been the more commonly heard ones to this day. A sad Christmas song, it was also composed during World War II, and so echoed the sentiments of many families who would be without certain members serving overseas during the holiday season. A touching, warm, and very real and human modern carol.

Lyrics:

(Original)

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light,
Next year all our troubles will be
out of sight,
So have yourself, a merry little Christmas time.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
miles away,
Have yourself a merry little Christmas Day.

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were near to us
Will be dear to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

(Modern)

Have yourself a merry little christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little christmas,
Make the yule-tide gay,
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

[Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas lyrics on http://www.elyricsworld.com]

Here were are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Recorded By:

Jackie Gleason
Connie Francis
Ella Fitzgerald
The Carpenters
The Muppets

A very, very Merry Christmas from Standard of the Day...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Could Have Danced All Night

By Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe
1956

One of the signature songs from Lerner & Loewe's great musical, My Fair Lady. It was introduced on stage by Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, singing rapturously of her growing love for Prof. Higgins. It was reprised in the film version, with star Audrey Hepburn dubbed with the voice of vocalist Marni Nixon. A beautiful sampling of the type of material being put out during the golden age of the Hollywood musical.

Lyrics:

I could have danced all night!
I could have danced all night!
And still have begged for more.

I could have spread my wings,
And done a thousand things
I've never done before.

I'll never know what made it so exciting,
Why all at once my heart took flight.

I only know when he
Began to dance with me,
I could have danced, danced danced all night!

Recorded By:

Sylvia Syms
Dinah Shore
Frank Sinatra
Rosemary Clooney
Petula Clark

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stardust

By Hoagy Carmichael & Mitchell Parish
1927

In honor of my grandfather, who passed away on December 4, I give you the single most popular standard of all time, and one of his very favorite songs. Composed on an old upright piano at the Keuka Hotel on Keuka Lake in New York, this unusual melody was based by Carmichael on the idiosyncratic stylings of trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. Carmichael himself was the first to record it, together with the Dorsey brothers. Parish joined Carmichael to come up with the lyrics two years later, making it "a love song about a love song," as Hoagy would characterize it. It was Isham Jones who turned it into a ballad in 1930, and from there it became one of the most recorded songs of all time. In fact, during the big band era, it was the most recorded pop songs, period--more than 1,500 versions are believed to exist.

With its gorgeous verse and a complex refrain, Stardust is the ultimate American standard, and I happily dedicate it to the memory of Anthony Salica.

Lyrics:

And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart.
High up in the sky, the little stars climb, always reminding me that we're apart.
You wander down the lane and far away, leaving a smile that will not die.
Love is now the stardust of yesterday; the music of the years gone by...

Sometime I wonder why I spend the lonely night
Dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie,
And I am once again with you,
When our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song.

Beside a garden wall where stars are bright,
You are in my arms.
The nightingale tells his fairytale,
Of paradise where roses bloom.
Though I dream in vain,
In my heart you will remain,
My stardust memory...the melody of love's refrain.

Recorded By:

Louis Armstrong
Nat King Cole
Artie Shaw
John Coltrane
Ella Fitzgerald

Friday, December 16, 2011

Remembering WNEW... and My Grandfather

About a month ago, I got to thinking a lot about WNEW-AM, the legendary New York radio station that in many ways spawned my love for the great American standards. This month marked 19 years that the station has been off the air, since being unceremoniously replaced by Bloomberg Radio right around the time I started college. I was largely exposed to it because of my grandfather, Tony Salica, who had listened to it pretty much every day of his life from when it first went on the air in 1934. And so I got to planning a tribute to WNEW for Standard of the Day.

Less than two weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. Thus, what I had originally envisioned as an ode to a great radio station now becomes an ode to the man who shared it with me.

He was a man who rubbed shoulders with Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali. Who received toys from Babe Ruth as a kid. Who saw Billie Holiday in concert at the Apollo Theater. And speaking of Sinatra, my grandfather idolized the man, and his music will always remind me of him because of that. In fact, WNEW was known for years as the "station of Sinatra", which is a big part of why my grandfather loved it so much.

My grandfather's love of Sinatra was legendary within my family. He worshiped him with a level of adoration that's impossible to overstate--an admiration that bordered on filial love. And beyond Sinatra, he had a passion for his kind of music--the big bands of the '40s and the vocal pop that dominated "grown-up music" from the post-war era right up to the British Invasion. To say his love of that music rubbed off on me would be quite an understatement--it permeated my childhood, becoming a soothing background soundtrack to my life. I moved away from it as a teenager, gravitating toward alternative and classic rock, but came back to my roots as a mature adult.



My grandfather was a man who loved his family more than anything in the world. There was nothing that brought him greater delight than watching my sister and I grow up, and later his great-grandchildren Layla and Jack, who quite literally meant the world to him. For me, he was like a second father. He taught me how to be a man, and making him proud is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Today, I cherish the sounds that he passed on to me, and happily pass them on to my own children.

The main conduit my grandfather had for his kind of music was, of course, WNEW. From 1934, it was the New York City radio station, listened to on a daily basis by him and the rest of the Depression/World War II generation. It remained the dominant station in the city for a good 30 years, until the youth culture of the 1960s changed the course of popular music, forcing WNEW to become a "nostalgia" station, catering more and more to a niche listenership of aging New Yorkers.

My grandparents happened to be among those aging New Yorkers, and not a day went by that they didn't listen to WNEW in their car, or on the little transistor radio my grandfather carried around with him everywhere. As kids, my sister and I would ride around with them on regular weekend excursions, meaning we were exposed to the sounds of WNEW all the time.

I look back fondly on those trips now, as a formative part of my life. We'd usually head over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island, visiting our Aunt Stella, the Staten Island Mall, Richmondtown Restoration (which we called "The Birds and the Bees"), or a combination of the three. And as we did so, WNEW would be heard in the background, the thrilling voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Mel Torme and so many others accompanying us as my grandfather got inevitably lost driving around those idyllic suburban Staten Island backroads.



There was the Make-Believe Ballroom, hosted by William B. Williams. Also, my grandfather's personal favorite show, hosted by the great Jonathan Schwartz. My grandfather loved listening to him talk, even if he didn't always understand what the hell he was talking about. And who could forget that classic station jingle... "Double-You..En-Ee-Double-You...Eleven-Three-Oh in New Yooork..."

But most of all there was Sinatra. His warm, cello-like voice filling that Persian blue 1976 Buick Century like a cool, refreshing breeze. My grandfather would revel in the Sinatra A-Z, a days-long celebration playing every single recording the man ever made. He had this uncanny ability to name a Sinatra song within the first couple notes of the arrangement, and he always knew every word.

Like Sinatra, I think we all just thought he would live forever. That’s why Sunday night, December 4 was still a shock, even though we knew he was very sick with ALS. He had been unconscious for a few hours when my mom called me to come down and see him. And ten minutes after I got there, he passed gently and quietly in his sleep. I can’t help but think he was waiting for me. As he lay there peacefully, I put my cellphone on his pillow and played Sinatra's "Put Your Dreams Away" on YouTube. I know he would've considered that the perfect sendoff, even if he never quite understood why I carried that stupid thing around with me all the time.

Through it all, the music was still intertwined with my grandfather, in death as in life. When the funeral parlor asked me to select some songs to use for a DVD montage of my grandfather's old photographs, let's just say I had no trouble at all. I wish he could watch that DVD with me, just like I wish he could've seen his great-granddaughter sing "Pennies from Heaven" at his service--verse and all. I suppose, however, that he's still been watching us after all, as is evidenced by the pennies we've been finding everywhere for the past couple of weeks.

My grandfather left me with a great many things, but most pertinent to this website, and to what I'm writing about today, he left me with a rich, deep love for the greatest American music ever made. It was the only type of music he ever took seriously, and although I try to be a bit more broad-minded in my own tastes, I will confess to a healthy dose of the musical snobbery he proudly engendered in me.

I can remember his profound sense of loss when WNEW-AM went off the air on December 11, 1992, after many years of dwindling ratings (ironically, the very years during which I was discovering the station.) Much of the staff and management immediately started up their own independent station, 1560 WQEW, but it only lasted for six years, going under mere months after Sinatra's own death--a telling sign of the times if ever there was one. It was the end of an era, and these days the sounds of the great American songbook are no longer heard on New York City airwaves.



My grandfather lived long enough to see his music get shifted into the "Easy Listening" bin and moved aside to make way for the amateur screeches and flimsy compositions of angry young boys in their parents' garages. He watched it fade, just as I watched him fade over the past few years. And now, my grandfather, like WNEW, is gone. But also like WNEW, it is only his physical presence that is truly gone, as the memories of both are kept alive in my heart, in my memories, and in Standard of the Day.

Because without Tony Salica and WNEW, this website would not exist. I never got the chance to show it to him, but I'm sure he would've loved my own little "Make-Believe Ballroom"...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Where Are You?

By Jimmy McHugh & Harold Adamson
1936


A delightfully moving composition from the McHugh/Adamson team that also gave us such songs as "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" and "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening". A favorite of the early Depression years, it was introduced by Gertrude Niesen (pictured) in 1937, and shortly followed by a slew of other artists. Its lilting melody and plaintive lyrics are typical of the era, and the song was admired so much by Frank Sinatra that in 1957 it became the only standard song to ever title one of his albums.

Lyrics:

Where are you
Where have you gone without me
I thought you cared about me
Where are you

Where's my heart
Where is the dream we started
I can't believe we're parted
Where are you

When we said good-bye love
What had we to gain
When I gave you my love
Was it all in vain

All life through
Must I go on pretending
Where is my happy ending
Where are you

Recorded By:

Aretha Franklin
Johnny Mathis
Jack Teagarden
Sonny Rollins
Dinah Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart

By James F. Hanley
1934

From the Broadway revue Thumbs Up! comes this irresistible tune originally introduced by Hal Le Roy and Eunice Healey. The most famous recording would have to be the one made by Judy Garland, who made it one of her signature songs. Interestingly enough, Frank Sinatra recorded it for his 1960 album Ring-a-Ding-Ding!, but the recording was cut because the tempo didn't match the rest of the tracks. It was finally released on a deluxe CD box set decades later.

Lyrics:

Never could carry a tune, never knew where to start
You came along when everything was wrong and put a song in my heart

Dear when you smiled at me, I heard a melody
It haunted me from the start
Something inside of me started a symphony
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

'Twas like a breath of spring, I heard a robin sing
About a nest set apart
All nature seemed to be in perfect harmony
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

Your eyes made skies seem blue again
What else could I do again
But keep repeating through and through
"I love you, love you"

I still recall the thrill, guess I always will
I hope 'twill never depart
Dear, with your lips to mine, a rhapsody devine
Zing! Went the strings of my heart

Recorded By:

The Trammps
The Coasters
Billy Eckstine
Chet Baker
June Christy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some Enchanted Evening

By Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
1949

One of the most recognized of all Rodgers & Hammerstein compositions, it was introduced in the classic musical South Pacific by Italian operatic bass Ezio Pinza, who became a mainstream American favorite because of it. Hammerstein's lyric expresses a carpe diem attitude through a series of action verbs, and Rodgers melody is gorgeous as usual. A touch on the schmaltzy side, but then again, that's Rodgers & Hammerstein, after all.

Lyrics:

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.

Some enchanted evening
Someone may be laughin',
You may hear her laughin'
Across a crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of her laughter
Will sing in your dreams.

Who can explain it?
Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons,
Wise men never try.

Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own
Or all through your life you
May dream all alone.

Once you have found her,
Never let her go.
Once you have found her,
Never let her go!

Recorded By:

Perry Como
Frank Sinatra
Jo Stafford
Bing Crosby
Al Jolson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Yours

By Johnny Green & E.Y. "Yip" Harburg
1930

For the 400th post here at Standard of the Day, I give you this warm and innocent ballad, written by one-time Ethel Merman accompanist, bandleader and pianist Johnny Winter (pictured), who dedicated it to his wife Bonnie. His lyricist was long-time Harold Arlen collaborator E.Y. Harburg. Green is best known for "Body Soul", which along with this song was one of his first two compositions, written at age 22 after deciding to disobey his father, drop out of military school and pursue music. It was introduced by the great Ruth Etting.

Lyrics:

Ask the sky above
And ask the earth below
Why I'm so in love
And why I love you so
Couldn't tell you though I tried do
Just why I'm yours.

When you went away
You left a glowing spark
Trying to be gay as
Whistling in the dark
I am only what you make me
Come take me
I'm yours

How can I happy
I would be to beg or borrow
For sorrow
With you
Even though I knew
Tomorrow
You'd say we were through.

If we drift apart
Then I'll be lost and alone
Though you use my heart
Just for a steppin' stone
How can I help dreaming of you
I love you
I'm yours

Recorded By:

Ruth Etting
Billie Holiday
Bert Lown Orchestra
Artie Shaw Orchestra
Dean Martin

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Is This Thing Called Love?

By Cole Porter
1929

A mournful dirge by the great Porter for the musical Wake Up and Dream, in which it was introduced in London by Elsie Carlisle (pictured). Porter was known for his bouncy, light-hearted highs and desolate lows. This would be an example of the latter, and its soulful, introspective nature made it a natural for the jazz artists who discovered it in the 1930s and beyond. In fact, several jazz compositions, including "Fifth House" by John Coltrane and "Barry's Bop" by Fats Navarro, are based on the chord structure of this song.

Lyrics:

I was a humdrum person,
Leading a life apart.
When love flew in through my window wide,
And quickened my humdrum heart.

Love flew in through my window,
I was so happy then.
But after love had stayed a little while,
Love flew out again.

What is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?

I saw you there one wonderful day.
You took my heart, and threw it away.
That's why I ask the Lord in heaven above,
What is this thing called love?

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald
Bill Evans
Coleman Hawkins

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Georgia on My Mind

By Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell
1930

One of the pillars of the Great American Songbook, penned by one of its most underrated tunesmiths. Writing primarily for Tin Pan Alley and not the stage, Carmichael was often looked down upon in comparison to other songwriters, but this and "Stardust" are not only his unquestioned masterpieces, they are two of the finest pieces of popular music ever created. Hoagy himself introduced the song on record, accompanied by legendary cornet player Bix Beiderbecke in what would be Bix's final recording session. Today, it is most associated with the Ray Charles rendition, recorded some 30 years later.

* This post is dedicated to Standard of the Day supporter Judy Segor.

Lyrics:

Georgia, Georgia,
The whole day through.
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia,
The song of you
Come as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines.

Other arms reach out to me,
Others eyes smile tenderly.
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you.

Georgia, Georgia,
No peace I find.
Just an old sweet song,
Keeps Georgia on my mind.

Recorded By:

Ray Charles
Willie Nelson
Lou Rawls
Anita O'Day
Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Alright With Me

By Cole Porter
1953

One of the very most sophisticated compositions by the songbook's most sophisticated composer. This gem was written for Porter's 1953 musical Can-Can, in which it was introduced by Peter Cookson. Porter's melody line virtually embodies a combination of smoldering longing and wistful regret, as the lyric expresses the subject's acceptance of his attraction to the object of his desire, even though he admits that he is still in love with someone else. A complex and beautiful song.

Lyrics:

It's the wrong time and the wrong place
Though your face is charming, it's the wrong face
It's not her face, but such a charming face
And it's alright with me

It's the wrong song with the wrong style
Though your smile is lovely, it's the wrong smile
It's not her smile, but such a lovely smile
That it's alright with me

You can't know how happy I am we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you wanna forget someone too

It's the wrong game with the wrong chips
Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips
They're not her lips, but they're such tempting lips
That it's all right with me

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Tom Waits
Mel Torme
Erroll Garner

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Always True to You in My Fashion

By Cole Porter
1948

Perhaps one of the master's greatest and cleverest compositions, with a lyric that never ceases to elicit amusement and exude effortless charm. It was written for Porter's celebrated musical Kiss Me, Kate, in which it was introduced by Broadway standout Lisa Kirk. The combination of sophistication and underlying naughtiness is the epitome of Porter's body of work.

Lyrics (extended stage version):

Oh, Bill
Why can't you behave
Why can't you behave?
How in hell can you be jealous
When you know, baby, I'm your slave?
I'm just mad for you
And I'll always be
But naturally.....

If a custom-tailored vet
Asks me out for something wet
When the vet begins to pet, I cry "hooray!"
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

I enjoy a tender pass
By the boss of Boston, Mass
Though his pass is middle-class and not Backa Bay
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's a madman known as Mack
Who is planning to attack
If his mad attack means a Cadillac, okay!
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

I've been asked to have a meal
By a big tycoon in steel
If the meal includes a deal, accept I may
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, Darlin' in my way

I could never curl my lip
To a dazzlin' diamond clip
Though the clip meant "Let 'er rip", I'd not say "Nay!"
But I'm always true to to you, darlin, in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's an oil man known as "Tex"
Who is keen to give me checks
And his checks, I fear, mean that sex is here to stay!
But I'm always true to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin' in my way

There's a wealthy Hindu priest
Who's a wolf, to say the least
When the priest goes too far East, I also stray
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin'in my way

There's a lush from Portland, Ore
Who is rich but such a bore
When the bore falls on the floor, I let him lay
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin',in my way

Mister Harris, plutocrat
Wants to give my cheek a pat
If the Harris pat means a Paris hat, Bébé, Oo-la-la!
Mais je suis toujours fidele, darlin', in my fashion
Oui, je suis toujours fidele, darlin', in my way

From Ohio, Mister Thorne
Calls me up from night 'til morn
Mister Thorne once corner'd corn and that ain't hay
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

From Milwaukee, Mister Fritz
Often moves me to the Ritz
Mister Fritz is full of Schlitz and full of play
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

Mister Gable, I mean Clark
Wants me on his boat to park
If the Gable boat means a sable coat, anchors aweigh!
But I'm always true to to you, darlin', in my fashion
Yes, I'm always true to you, darlin', in my way

Recorded By:

Blossom Dearie
Ella Fitzgerald
Della Reese
Eartha Kitt
Peggy Lee & George Shearing

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Unforgettable

By Irving Gordon
1951

Perhaps one of the most enduring of all standards, still commonly known today by people of all ages, mainly thanks to the recording by Nat King Cole. It was Cole who introduced the song in 1951, re-recorded it in stereo ten years later, and with whom it has always been identified. His version was famously edited in 1991 into a posthumous "duet" with his daughter Natalie, which won the Grammy for Best Recording. Sadly, that version also amended the fine Nelson Riddle arrangement to including a cheesy sax solo in place of Riddle's trademark shimmering strings.

Lyrics:

Unforgettable
That's what you are,
Unforgettable
Tho' near or far.

Like a song of love that clings to me,
How the thought of you does things to me.
Never before
Has someone been more...

Unforgettable
In every way,
And forever more
That's how you'll stay.

That's why, darling, it's incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am
Unforgettable, too.

Recorded By:

Dick Hyman
Dinah Washington
Sammy Davis Jr.
Marvin Gaye
Lou Rawls

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ain't We Got Fun?

By Richard A. Whiting, Raymond B. Egan & Gus Kahn
1920

A classic foxtrot composition that became one of the theme songs of the Roaring '20s, as well as the Depression Era. It was introduced on stage in the revue Satires of 1920, but achieved even greater stature on the vaudeville circuit and in recordings. In particular, it has been immortalized by the recording by the great Eddie Cantor, and was even mentioned in F. Scott's Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. An uplifting ode to carefree living, it both epitomized the Jazz Decade, and raised the spirits of those who fell on hard times afterward.

Lyrics:

Bill collectors gather 'round and rather
Haunt the cottage next door
Men the grocer and butcher sent
Men who call for the rent
But within a happy chappy
And his bride of only a year
Seem to be so cheerful, here's an earful
Of the chatter you hear

Ev'ry morning, ev'ry evening
Ain't we got fun?
Not much money, Oh, but honey
Ain't we got fun?
The rent's unpaid dear
We haven't a bus
But smiles were made dear
For people like us

In the winter in the Summer
Don't we have fun
Times are bum and getting bummer
Still we have fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get children
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun?

Just to make their trouble nearly double
Something happened last night
To their chimney a gray bird came
Mister Stork is his name
And I'll bet two pins, a pair of twins
Just happened in with the bird
Still they're very gay and merry
Just at dawning I heard

Ev'ry morning, ev'ry evening
Don't we have fun
Twins and cares, dear, come in pairs, dear
Don't we have fun
We've only started
As mommer and pop
Are we downhearted
I'll say that we're not

Landlords mad and getting madder
Ain't we got fun?
Times are so bad and getting badder
Still we have fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get laid off
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun?

When the man who sold 'em carpets told 'em
He would take them away
They said, "Wonderful, here's our chance
Take them up and we'll dance"
And when burglars came and robbed them
Taking all their silver, they say
Hubby yelled, "We're famous, for they'll name us
In the pepers today

Night or daytime, it's all playtime
Ain't we got fun?
Hot or cold days, any old days
Ain't we got fun
If Wifey wishes
To go to a play
Don't wash the dishes
Just throw them away

Streetcar seats are awful narrow
Ain't we got fun?
They won't smash up our Pierce Arrow
We ain't got none
They've cut my wages
But my income tax will be so much smaller
When I'm laid off, I'll be paid off
Ain't we got fun?

Recorded By:

Peggy Lee
Doris Day
Eddie Cantor
Rosemary Clooney
Bing Crosby

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lullaby of the Leaves

By Bernice Petkere & Joe Young
1932

Featured in the very short-lived Broadway revue Chamberlain Brown's Scrap Book, this aching ballad was introduced on stage by Ina Hayward, but later became a jazz favorite after Freddie Berrens and his orchestra brought the song to radio. Although the show it came from may have been a flop, the song lives on as a rare treat to be discovered by fans of the Great American Songbook.

Lyrics:

Rustling of the leaves used to be my lullaby,
In the sunny south when I was a tot so high,
And now that I have grown
And myself alone.

Cradle me where southern skies can watch me with a million eyes,
Oh sing me to sleep,
Lullaby of the leaves

Cover me with heavens blue and let me dream a dream or two,
Oh sing me to sleep,
Lullaby of the leaves.

Im breezing along, along with the breeze,
Im hearing a song, a song thru the trees,
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh.
That pine melody caressing the shore familiar to me, Ive heard it
before ooh ooh ooh ooh.

Thats southland, dont I feel it in my soul,
And dont I know Ive reached my goal,
Oh sing me to sleep,
Lullaby of the Leaves.

Recorded By:

Keely Smith
Chet Baker
Ella Fitzgerald
Benny Goodman
Anita O'Day

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

There's No Business Like Show Business

By Irving Berlin
1946

The ultimate ode to the glitz and glamor of stage and screen, penned by one of America's most cherished composers, and a man who knew its allure perhaps better than just about anyone. The song was the centerpiece of Berlin's musical Annie Get Your Gun, in which it was introduced by Ray Middleton, Marty May and of course the great Ethel Merman in the starring role of Annie Oakley. It has since become one of Berlin's most cherished standards, a rousing anthem to the business of entertainment.

Lyrics:

There's no business like show business like no business I know
Everything about it is appealing, everything that traffic will allow
Nowhere could you get that happy feeling when you are stealing that extra bow

There's no people like show people, they smile when they are low
Even with a turkey that you know will fold, you may be stranded out in the cold
Still you wouldn't change it for a sack of gold, let's go on with the show

The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the clerk
Are secretly unhappy men because
The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the clerk
Get paid for what they do but no applause.
They'd gladly bid their dreary jobs goodbye for anything theatrical and why?

There's no business like show business and I tell you it's so
Traveling through the country is so thrilling, standing out in front on opening nights
Smiling as you watch the theater filling, and there's your billing out there in lights

There's no people like show people, they smile when they are low
Angels come from everywhere with lots of jack, and when you lose it, there's no attack
Where could you get money that you don't give back? Let's go on with the show

(There's no business like show business like no business I know)
You get word before the show has started that your favorite uncle died at dawn
Top of that, your pa and ma have parted, you're broken-hearted, but you go on

(There's no people like show people, they smile when they are low)
Yesterday they told you you would not go far, that night you open and there you are
Next day on your dressing room they've hung a star, let's go on with the show!!

Recorded By:

Bernadette Peters
Judy Garland
Susannah McCorkle
Betty Hutton
Frank Sinatra

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tony Bennett and... Lady Gaga??

I'm breaking my two-months silence for a bit of a break from the usual routine here... to bring you this video which has been blowing my mind lately. It's from Tony Bennett's brand-new Duets II album, and features the greatest living traditional pop vocalist teaming up with none other than today's hottest pop sensation, Lady Gaga, for a rendition of Rodgers & Hart's "The Lady Is a Tramp".

I never would've imagined I'd like this as much as I do, but it cannot be denied that Ms. Gaga indeed has some talent! Honestly, her voice here reminds me a bit of Keely Smith and Anita O'Day. It just goes to prove what I've said in the past--that today's vocalists are often extremely talented, yet sabotage themselves with sub-par material in order to sell records. When given some quality standards to work with, they finally demonstrate what they really can do.

Enjoy! And congratulations to Mr. Bennett for staying in the mix all these years... I can't believe the Red Hot Chili Peppers stunt on the MTV Music Video Awards was nearly two decades ago...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'll Remember April

By Gene de Paul, Patricia Johnston & Don Raye
1942

Just got back from the new superhero film Captain America, and enjoyed hearing the Woody Herman recording of this song featured in the movie--which takes place during World War II. Introduced by Dick Foran in the Abbott & Costello picture Ride 'Em Cowboy, the melancholy tune became a big hit during the war years. It has since been recorded by countless artists, who favor it for its moody atmosphere and contemplative lyrics.

Lyrics:

This lovely day will lengthen into evening,
We'll sigh good-bye to all we've ever had,
Alone where we have walked together,
I'll remember April and be glad....

I'll be content, you loved me once in April,
Your lips were warm, and love an' spring were new,
But I'm not afraid of autumn, and her sorrow,
For I'll remember,
April and you!

The fire will dwindle into glowing ashes,
For flames and love live such a little while . . .
I won't forget, but I won't be lonely,
I'll remember April, and I'll smile . . .

The fire will dwindle into glowing ashes,
For flames and love live such a little while

I won't forget, but I won't be lonely
I'll remember April, and I'll smile . . .

I won't forget but I won't be lonely, no . . .
I'll remember April, and I'll smile!

Recorded By:

Chet Baker
Shirley Bassey
June Christy
Julie London
Frank Sinatra





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They Can't Take That Away from Me

By George & Ira Gershwin
1937

Last Thursday officially made three full years that Standard of the Day has been in existence, and to belatedly commemorate that milestone, today we shine the spotlight on one of the most celebrated standards of them all, which the Gershwin brothers composed for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical, Shall We Dance. Astaire introduces the tune in the movie, singing it to Rogers in a rare musical number with no dancing. Ira's lyric is a perfect mixture of joy and sadness, as our lover declares to his paramour that no amount of distance could erase the memories they've shared. Also of note is the ingenious way the lyric pairs up very mundane aspects of the beloved ("The way you hold your knife"), with more profound aspects ("The way you changed my life"). A lilting, perfect melody from the immortal George Gershwin completes this ultimate love ballad. George Gershwin passed on shortly after the movie was released, but was posthumously nominated, along with his brother, for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to read and support SOTD. Let's continue keeping these old songs alive together, shall we?

Lyrics:

Our romance won't end on a sorrowful note, though by tomorrow you're gone.
The song is ended, but as the songwriter wrote, the melody lingers on.
They may take you from me. I'll miss your fond caress.
But though they take you from me, I'll still possess...

The way you wear your hat,
The way you sip your tea,
The memory of all that.
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

The way your smile just beams,
The way you sing off-key,
The way you haunt my dreams.
No, no, they can't take that away from me.

We may never, never meet again on the bumpy road to love,
Still I'll always, always keep the memory of...

The way you hold your knife,
The way we danced till three,
The way you changed my life,
No, no, they can't take that away from me.
No, they can't take that away from me.

Recorded By:

Tony Bennett
Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday
Charlie Parker
Frank Sinatra

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bali Ha'i

By Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
1949

Written for the musical South Pacific, the song was meant to evoke the dreamlike, exotic quality of the fictional volcanic island for which it is named. The island was inspired by the real Pacific island of Ambae, mentioned by James Michener in the novel on which the play was based. It was performed by Juanita Hill on stage and in the film version, and first recorded by Perry Como. In the 1950s, it would become predictably popular during the exotica movement, thanks to its Oriental, mystical sound.

Lyrics:

Most people live on a lonely island,
lost in the middle of a foggy sea
most people long for another island
one where they know they would like to be.

Bali Ha'i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart you'll hear it call you,
"Come away, come away . . ."

Bali Ha'i will whisper,
On the wind of the sea,
"Here am I your special island"
"Come to me, come to me . . ."

Your own special hopes,
Your own special dreams,
Bloom on the hillside,
And shine in the streams . . .

If you try you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea
Here am I your special island
Come to me, come to me . . .

Bali Ha'i
Bali Ha'i
Bali Ha'i

Someday you'll see me,
Floating in the sunshine,
My head sticking out from a low flying cloud . . .

You'll hear me call you,
Singing through the sunshine
Sweet and clear as can be . . .

"Come to me, here am I"
"Come to me"
"Come to me"

Bali Ha'i . . .

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Martin Denny
Stacey Kent
Tak Shindo
Perry Como

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Solitude

By Duke Ellington, Eddie DeLange & Irving Mills
1934

Few songs are as associated with Billie Holiday as this aching ballad of love in isolation, even though it was Ellington himself who introduced it. Perfectly suited to Lady Day's unique voice, this tune became an instant classic the moment she first recorded it in 1941. It has since become one of the all-time most revered jazz standards.

Lyrics:

In my solitude, you haunt me
With reveries of days gone by.
In my solitude, you taunt me
With memories that never die.

I sit in my chair,
Filled with despair.
Nobody could be so sad.
With gloom ev'rywhere,
I sit and I stare,
I know that I'll soon go mad.

In my solitude, I'm praying,
Dear Lord above, send back my love.

Recorded By:

Billy Eckstine
Ella Fitzgerald
Tony Bennett & Count Basie
Nina Simone
Aretha Franklin

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day In, Day Out

By Rube Bloom & Johnny Mercer
1939


Another example of Mercer's fantastic lyrics, taking a tired phrase and making it shine. The words go along with a gorgeous, soaring melody by Bloom which musicologist Alec Wilder rightly described as passionate yet unpretentious. The song was introduced by Bob Crosby's Orchestra (pictured), with Helen Ward on vocals. It was a popular song with the big bands which survived into the post-Big Band era as well.

Lyrics:

Day in - day out
That same old voodoo follows me about
That same old pounding in my heart, whenever I think of you
And baby I think of you
Day in and day out

Day out - day in
I needn't tell you how my days begin
When I awake I get up with a tingle
One possibility in view
That possibility of maybe seeing you

Come rain - come shine
I meet you and to me the day is fine
Then I kiss your lips, and the pounding becomes
An oceans roar, a thousand drums
Can't you see it's love, can there be any doubt
When there it is, day in - day out

Recorded By:

Nat King Cole
Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
Judy Garland

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Keep My Love Alive

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1943

This was the final song ever co-written by the legendary lyricist Lorenz Hart with his tunesmith partner Richard Rodgers. It was composed for the 1943 revival of A Connecticut Yankee, a show originated by Rodgers & Hart in 1927. It was introduced on stage by Vivienne Segal. Detailing the methods a serial widow has used to bump off her husbands, it is a classic example of the witty Hart touch. The lyricist died shortly thereafter of pneumonia.

Lyrics:

I've been married and married,
and often I've sighed,
I'm never a brides-maid,
I'm always the bride,
I never divorced them,
I hadn't the heart,
Yet, remember those sweet words,
"Till death do us part."

I married many men, a ton of them, and yet I was untrue to none of them,
because I bumped off ev'ry one of them to keep my love alive.

Sir Paul was frail, he looked a wreck to me.
At night he was a horse's nect to me,
so I performed an appendectomy,
to keep my love alive!

Sir Thomas had insomnia,
he couldn't sleep at night,
I bought a little arsenic,
he's sleeping now all right.

Sir Philip played the harp, I cussed the thing.
I crowned him with his harp to bust the thing,
and now he plays where harps are just the thing,
to keep my love alive, to keep my love alive.

I thought Sir George had possibilites,
but his flirtations made me ill at ease,
and when I'm ill at ease, I kill at ease
to keep my love alive.

Sir Charles came from a sanatorium,
and yelled for drinks in my emporium.
I mixed one drink, he's in memoriam,
to keep my love alive!

Sir Francis was a singing bird,
a night-in-gale,
That's why I tossed him off my balcony
to see if he could fly.

Sir Athelstane indulged in fratricide,
he killed his dad and that was patricide.
One night I stabbed him by my mattress side,
to keep my love alive, to keep my love alive.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Blossom Dearie
Ray Charles
Pearl Bailey
Sophia Loren

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Charmaine

By Erno Rapee & Lew Pollack
1927


A lush and charming love ballad from the roaring '20s, composed originally for the silent film classic What Price Glory? It would also be introduced on record the same year by the Guy Lombardo orchestra. Since then, it has infiltrated popular culture, with the Mantovani version being used by Monty Python and in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It is also featured in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It was originally conceived as a waltz, and it is in this style that Frank Sinatra recorded it for his 1961 All Alone album.

Lyrics:

I can't forget the night we met, how bright were stars above.
That precious memory lingers yet, when you declared your love.
And then you went away, and now each night and day...

I wonder why you keep me waiting, Charmaine, my Charmaine.
I wonder when bluebirds are mating, will you come back again?
I wonder if I keep on praying, will our dreams be the same?
I wonder if you ever think of me too ..
I am waiting my Charmaine for you ...

Recorded By:

The Bachelors
Tex Beneke
Bill Haley & His Comets
The Ink Spots
The Four Freshmen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'Round Midnight

By Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams & Bernie Hanighen
1944

The most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician, this smoky number was first conceptualized by Monk in the 1930s under a different name. It developed gradually over the years in true jazz style, with later embellishments added by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. The lyrics by Henighen were added later. It's believed to have been recorded hundreds of times.

Lyrics:

It begins to tell,
'round midnight, midnight.
I do pretty well, till after sundown,
Suppertime I'm feelin' sad;
But it really gets bad,
'round midnight.

Memories always start 'round midnight
Haven't got the heart to stand those memories,
When my heart is still with you,
And ol' midnight knows it, too.
When a quarrel we had needs mending,
Does it mean that our love is ending.
Darlin' I need you, lately I find
You're out of my heart,
And I'm out of my mind.

Let our hearts take wings'
'round midnight, midnight
Let the angels sing,
for your returning.
Till our love is safe and sound.
And old midnight comes around.
Feelin' sad,
really gets bad
Round, Round, Round Midnight.

Recorded By:

Sarah Vaughan
Ella Fitzgerald
Amy Winehouse
Bobby McFerrin
Linda Rondstadt

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Secret Love

By Sammy Fain & Paul Francis Webster
1953

An Academy Award-winner from the closing years of classic pop era, it was written for and introduced by the lovely Doris Day in her starring role in Calamity Jane. Ms. Day also recorded a commercial version of the song the year after the movie came out. It remains one of the most beautiful tunes to ever snare an Oscar, from an age when winning the award for a song actually meant something.

Lyrics:

Once I had a secret love
That lived within the heart of me.
All too soon my secret love
Became impatient to be free.

So I told a friendly star
The way that dreamers often do.
Just how wonderful you are
And why I'm so in love with you.

Now I shout it from the highest hills.
Even told the golden daffodils.
At last my heart's an open door,
And my secret love's no secret anymore.

Recorded By:

Mandy Moore
Frank Sinatra
Sinead O'Connor
George Michael
Anne Murray

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

By Cole Porter
1938

Happy Father's Day to all SOTD readers... This clever hit for Porter was from his musical Leave It to Me!, in which is was introduced by Mary Martin. She would again perform the song in the 1940 motion picture Love Thy Neighbor. Both melody and lyrics are by Porter as usual, and in this case the lyric is particularly impressive, as it is no mean feat to rhyme anything with "Daddy".

Lyrics:

I used to fall in love with all those boys who maul the young cuties
But now I find I’m more inclined to keep my mind on my duties.

While tearing off a game of golf
I may make a play for the caddy
But when I do, I don’t follow through
‘cause my heart belongs to Daddy.

If I invite a boy some night
To dine on my fine finnan haddie
I just adore his asking for more
But my heart belongs to Daddy

Yes my heart belongs to Daddy
So I simply couldn’t be bad
Yes, my heart belongs to Daddy
Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da
So I want to warn you, laddie
Though I know you’re perfectly swell
But my heart belongs to Daddy
‘cause my Daddy he treats it so well

There was a dame that a football game
Made long for the strong undergraddie
I never dream of making the team
‘cause my heart belongs to daddy

Yes, my heart belongs to Daddy
So I simply couldn’t be bad
Yes, my heart belongs to Daddy
Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da
So I want to warn you, laddie
Though I know you’re perfectly swell
That my heart belongs to Daddy
‘cause my Daddy, he treats it so well.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass
Oscar Peterson
Marilyn Monroe
Della Reese

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wave

By Antonio Carlos Jobim
1967

Originally conceived as an instrumental, this breezy bossa nova tune first appeared on Jobim's album of the same name. The Brazilian composer wrote lyrics for it when Frank Sinatra asked to record it with him as part of his 1970 Sinatra & Co. album. On that record, Sinatra sings the lowest note of his career, a low E-flat. In Portuguese, the name of the song is "Vou Te Contar".

Lyrics:

So close your eyes
For that's a lovely way to be
Aware of things your heart alone was meant to see
The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together

You cant deny dont try to fight the rising sea
Don't fight the moon, the stars above and don't fight me
The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together

When I saw you first the time was half-past three
When your eyes met mine it was eternity

By now we know the wave is on its way to be
Just catch that wave don't be afraid of loving me
The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together

Recorded By:

Oscar Peterson
Sarah Vaughn
Ella Fitzgerald
Mel Torme
Buddy Rich

Monday, June 13, 2011

Broadway Rhythm

By Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed
1935

Often mistakenly referred to as "Gotta Dance", thanks to the well-known refrain within the lyrics, this song is known to many thanks to its performance by Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, perhaps the greatest film musical of all time. However, the song originates in the much earlier musical, Broadway Melody of 1936. It was introduced on record that same year by Frances Langford.

Lyrics:

Oh, that Broadway rhythm
Oh, that broadway rhythm
When I hear that happy beat,
Feel like dancing down the street.
To that Broadway rhythm,
Writhing, beating rhythm.
Gotta dance! Gotta dance!
Gotta dance! Gotta dance!

Broadway rhythm it’s got me
Everybody dance
Broadway rhythm it’s got me
Everybody dance!
Out on the gay white way
In each merry cafe,
Orchestras play,
Taking your breath away.
(With a) Broadway rhythm, it’s got me
Everybody sing and dance!

Recorded By:

Guy Lombardo
Gene Kelly
Frances Langford
Caroll Gibbons
Judy Garland

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Because of You

By Arthur Hammerstein & Dudley Wilkinson
1940

A warm, earnest love song that didn't really become anything of note until a young Tony Bennett recorded it in 1951. It became Bennett's first number-one hit, and immediately also became a standard as a result of that success. It was also featured in the 1951 film, I Was an American Spy. Bennett's version featured his trademark warm legato vocal style, and remains a favorite of enthusiasts of traditional pop.

Lyrics:

Because of you there's a song in my heart
Because of you my romance had its start
Because of you the sun will shine
The moon and stars will say you're mine
Forever and never to part

I only live for your love and your kiss
It's paradise to be near you like this
Because of you my life is now worth while
And I can smile
Because of you

Recorded By:

Johnny Desmond
Gloria DeHaven
Louis Armstrong
Chris Montez
Johnny Iris

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moonlight Serenade

By Glenn Miller & Mitchell Parish
1939

One of the all-time great signature tunes of the Big Band era. It was composed by Miller for his world-famous orchestra, and became one of five Top 20 Billboard hits the band would have in 1939. Originally, it was the B-side of a record called "Sunrise Serenade", but became such a huge hit on its own that it quickly became Miller's theme song. With it's classic Miller-style clarinet-saxophone lead, it perfectly sums up the sweet "Miller sound". Parish would later add lyrics to what was previously an instrumental.

Lyrics:

I stand at your gate.
And the song that I sing is of moonlight.
I stand and I wait
For the touch of your hand in the June night.
The roses are sighing a moonlight serenade.

The stars are aglow.
And tonight how their light sets me dreaming.
My love, do you know
That your eyes are like stars brightly beaming?
I bring you, and I sing you a moonlight serenade.

Let us stray 'til break of day
In love's valley of dreams.
Just you and I, a summer sky,
A heavenly breeze, kissin' the trees.

So don't let me wait.
Come to me tenderly in the June night.
I stand at your gate
And I sing you a song in the moonlight.
A love song, my darling, a moonlight serenade

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Carly Simon
Santo & Johnny
Count Basie
Gene Krupa

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Only a Paper Moon

By Harold Arlen, E.Y. "Yip" Harburg & Billy Rose
1933

Initially written for the 1933 Broadway flop The Great Magoo, this Arlen/Harburg gem was included in the film Take a Chance later that same year. It also received its first recording courtesy of the Paul Whiteman orchestra. It didn't really pick up steam until the World War II years, when it became a standard thanks to versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat Cole. It has become a jazz improvisation favorite, and was notably included in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. A light and airy tune with a lovely, whimsical lyric.

Lyrics:

It is only a paper moon
hanging over a cardboard sea,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

It is only a canvas sky
sailing over a muslin tree,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

Without your love,
It's a honky-tonk parade.
Without your love,
It's a melody played in a penny arcade.

It's a Barnum and Bailey world,
Just as phony as it can be,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Nat King Cole
Ella Fitzgerald
Tony Bennett
Coleman Hawkins

Monday, June 6, 2011

No Strings (I'm Fancy Free)

By Irving Berlin
1935

Was there ever a greater working agreement in pop music than that between Berlin and Fred Astaire? Here we have another 3-minute masterpiece written by Berlin for Astaire and Ginger Rogers, to be used in their 1935 film Top Hat (the best Astaire/Rogers teamup, for my money). Filled with Berlin compositions, Top Hat is a thrill from beginning to end, and this joyous tune is without a doubt one of the highlights.

Lyrics:

I wake up every morning with a smile on my face
Everything in it's place as it should be
I start out every morning just as free as the breeze
My cares upon the shelf
Because I find myself with

No strings and no connections
No ties to my affections
I'm fancy free and free for anything fancy

No dates that can't be broken
No words that can't be spoken
Especially when I am feeling romancy

Like a robin upon a tree
Like a sailor that goes to sea
Like an unwritten melody
I'm free, that's me

So bring on the big attraction
My decks are cleared for action
I'm fancy free and free for anything fancy

Recorded By:

Fred Astaire
Ella Fitzgerald
Peter Mintun
Ginger Rogers
Peter Skellern

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Glad to Be Unhappy

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1936

An example of a song which was not an instant hit, but rather took off decades later. It was originally composed for Rodgers and Hart's stage production On Your Toes, in which it was introduced by Doris Carson & David Morris. But it was not recorded very often at all until the 1950s, possibly having to do with a popular Broadway revival in 1954. Sinatra recorded it immediately after on his In the Wee Small Hours album, and the rest is history. A charming tune with one of the most enjoyable Rodgers and Hart verses.

Lyrics:

Look at yourself,
If you had a sense of humor you would laugh to beat the band.
Look at yourself,
Do you still believe the rumor that romance is simply grand?
Since you took in on the chin,
You have lost that toothpaste grin.
Your mental state is all a-jumble,
You sit at home and sadly mumble.

Fools rush in, so here I am,
Very glad to be unhappy.
I can't win, but here I am,
More than glad to be unhappy.

Unrequited love's a bore,
And I've got it pretty bad.
But for someone you adore,
It's a pleasure to be sad.

Like a straying baby lamb
With no mammy and no pappy,
I'm so unhappy, but oh, so glad.

Recorded By:

The Mamas & The Papas
Billie Holiday
Lena Horne
Nancy Wilson
Carmen McRae

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Satin Doll

By Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn & Johnny Mercer
1953

A late standard known for its unusual chord progression, "Satin Doll" was already a big hit as an instrumental by Ellington & Strayhorn before Mercer ever added a lyric. In fact, the Mercer lyric is generally not considered one of his best, and Ella Fitzgerald notably recorded a scat version which didn't even make use of it. Still, the song remains popular in both versions.

Lyrics:

Cigarette holder,
Which wigs me.
Over her shoulder,
She digs me.
Out cattin'
That satin doll.

Baby, shall we go
Out skippin'?
Careful, amigo,
You're flippin'
Speaks Latin,
That satin doll.

She's nobody's fool,
So I'm playin' it cool as can be.
I'll give it a whirl,
But I ain't for no girl catchin' me.

Telephone numbers,
Well, you know.
Doin' my rhumbas
With uno,
And that's my satin doll.

Recorded By:

101 Strings
The Gaylords
Nancy Wilson
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald

Monday, May 30, 2011

You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You

By Russ Morgan, Larry Stock & James Cavanaugh
1944

A classic of the lounge subgenre, originally recorded by co-writer Morgan. Of course, we now know it best of all due to the 1965 Dean Martin recording, one of the biggest hits of Dino's career. There was also a very popular recording by The Mills Brothers. An infectiously happy and upbeat tune, perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue...

Lyrics:

You're nobody 'til somebody loves you
You're nobody 'til somebody cares.
You may be king, you may possess the world and it's gold,
But gold won't bring you happiness when you're growing old.
The world still is the same, you never change it,
As sure as the stars shine above;
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you,
So find yourself somebody to love.

The world still is the same, you never change it,
As sure as the stars shine above;
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you,
So find yourself somebody, find yourself somebody,
Find yourself somebody to love.

Recorded By:

Michael Buble
George Burns
Cab Calloway
Bobby Darrin
Sammy Davis Jr.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ev'rything I've Got Belongs to You

By Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
1942

One of the catchiest tunes to ever come out of the vaunted Rodgers/Hart collaboration, this one comes from the show By Jupiter, in which it was introduced by Ray Bolger (The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz) and Benay Venuta. This was the same show that also gave us, "Wait Till You See Her."

Lyrics:

I have eyes for you to give you dirty looks.
I have words that do not come from children's books.
There's a trick with a knife I'm learning to do,
And ev'rything I've got belongs to you.

I've a powerful anesthesia in my fist,
And the perfect wrist to give your neck a twist.
There are hammerlock holds, I've mastered a few,
And ev'rything I've got belongs to you.

Share for share, share alike,
You get struck each time I strike.
You for me- me for me-
I'll give you plenty of nothing.

I'm not yours for better but for worse,
And I've learned to give the well-known witches' curse.
I've a terrible tongue, a temper for two,
And ev'rything I've got belongs to you.

Recorded By:

Ella Fitzgerald
Blossom Dearie
Jane Monheit
Ed Kuepper
Charlie Byrd

Listen to Martini in the Morning

Jazz News