Blue Moon

30 08 2012

Blue Moon—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1934 (Recorded August 30, 2012) “Blue Moon”‘s familiar melody withstood three other lyric treatments that Lorenz Hart was compelled to write and re-write, thanks to the tune’s changing identity in various Hollywood movies. It was originally called “Prayer,” and then “The Bad in Every Man.” I suspect that by the time he got around to writing the lyric as we know it, Hart became a little punchy and penned the snippy opening verse that begins, “Once upon a time, before I took up smiling/I hated the moonlight.” I learned the verse by listening to a mid-1930s recording by singer and actress Greta Keller. I took an airy, slightly mad turn with this tune, happily singing and playing uke and then adding a vocal trumpet sound in the middle and at the outro.

It’s a simple song that didn’t impress Alec Wilder much:

It certainly is one of the most performed Rodgers and Hart songs. I have never been attracted to it, though I recognize it to be competently written. … but, compared with what Rodgers had been doing up till that time, the song, overall, was definitely undistinguished.”

(Excerpted from American Popular Song—The Great Innovators 1900-1950, edited by Alec Wilder, 1972.)

Tomorrow is an August “Blue Moon,” the second full moon in the month. The next such coincidence won’t happen until July 31, 2015.

Happy Blue Moon, world!





Last Night When We Were Young

10 07 2012

Last Night When We Were Young—H. Arlen/E.Y. Harburg, 1935 (Recorded July 10, 2012) Harold Arlen told Alec Wilder that he wrote this song expressly for opera singer/actor Lawrence Tibbett. Tibbett’s performance of the song was cut from the movie, Metropolitan, though, but the tune lived on in well-known pop versions by Sinatra and Judy Garland, among others.

I love the song, and tried my best to do it justice. Represented here is version 10 of my recorded efforts, so, yeah, I tried and tried! Since there is a loud vocal part toward the end, I kept getting the levels wrong, blowing out the recording during the lung-busting measure. This cut turned out ok, technically and performance-wise, although I still sing it better in the shower. ;°)