Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

26 07 2012

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive—H. Arlen/J. Mercer, 1944 (Recorded July 26, 2012) Wikipedia reports that Johnny Mercer came up with this lyric after attending a sermon by Father Divine, where “you got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative” is supposed to have been an actual quote by the (in)famous preacher.

The song was used in the Bing Crosby-Betty Hutton movie, Here Come the Waves. I yanked this arrangement by listening to the master himself, Johnny Mercer, in his recording with Paul Weston’s (aka Jonathan Edwards) band and the Pied Piper vocal group. I sang it through straight, playing the Glyph ukulele, and then added maracas and background vocals.

This song is dedicated to all my pals who, this very weekend, are attending the Hollesley Ukulele Festival, aka “Raystock,” over in Hollesley, Suffolk, England. Hope to see you guys there in 2013!

Like Someone in Love

15 06 2012

Like Someone in Love—J. Van Heusen/J. Burke, 1944 (Recorded June 15, 2012) I’ve been on a Jimmy Van Heusen kick lately. Edward Chester Babcock has long been in the Top Five of my favorite songwriters, along with Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, and Cole Porter. (E. C. Babcock was Van Heusen’s birth name—he changed it at the insistence of a radio program manager who thought “Babcock” sounded, well, too “cocky.” As the story goes, Babcock looked out the window and, seeing a Van Heusen shirt truck driving by, changed his name on the spot.)

Back in the early 1990s, when I first heard the album, Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Jimmy Van Heusen, I was hooked. An inventive songster, Van Heusen is most closely associated in his early career with Bing Crosby and later on with Sinatra. I was prompted to record these numbers because I’ve been reading the engrossing book, “The House that George Built” by Wilfrid Sheed, and I’ve just finished the chapter about Van Heusen. What a character, that Jimmy! Read Sheed’s book if you have any interest in these song standards. It’s excellent.

But Beautiful

15 06 2012

But Beautiful—J. Van Heusen/J. Burke, 1947 (Recorded June 15, 2012) This song was written for the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour flick, Road to Rio. Bing sings it to Dorothy, natch.

I learned this tune years ago and have not played it in quite a while until I decided to make this recording. It took a bit of practice, but it’s sort of like riding a bicycle: I jumped right back on, fell off and skinned my knees a couple of times, but soon I was riding around the block.

My Heart Is a Hobo

15 06 2012

My Heart Is a Hobo—J. Van Heusen/J. Burke, 1947 (Recorded June 15, 2012) Here’s another tune from a Crosby movie, this time, Welcome Stranger. Bing sings it with a fishing pole in his hands while sitting next to Barry Fitzgerald. The masculine lyric changes the line from “Hates the stay-home gal that I am” to “Hates the stodgy guy that I am,” but I altered it to “Hates the stay-home guy that I am.” Small difference. I like to stay home, so it fits that way. ;°)

Still the Bluebird Sings

2 03 2012

Still the Bluebird Sings—J. Monaco/J. Burke, 1939 (Recorded March 2, 2012) An acquaintance of mine died yesterday. I didn’t know John T. well at all, but a number of people I care about were close to him, and to them and John’s family, I dedicate this song.

Palace in Paradise

2 02 2012

Palace in Paradise—Harry Owens, 1936 (Recorded February 2, 2012) I picked this song from Bing Crosby’s Decca version, which he recorded with Lani McIntire and His Hawaiians in about 1937. The song’s author, Harry Owens, was a Nebraskan by birth but got stuck on Hawaii when he visited the Islands and became music director for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1934. Owens’s best-known number is “Sweet Leilani,” which became a big hit for Crosby after it appeared in Bing’s flick, Waikiki Wedding. “Palace in Paradise” (and “Sweet Leilani,” for that matter) is considered a haole number, meaning it was not created by an aboriginal Hawaiian inhabitant but still possesses an Island sound.

I recorded this with the Earnest Instruments cigar box uke, straight up, and added a bit of reverb in the mix. On the instrumental break, I did a high falsetto yodel-like voice, and then beat the hell out of that with plenty of reverb, for that lonesome, cloud-covered pali feel.

You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me

20 01 2012

You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me—S. Fain/P. Norman/I. Kahal, 1930 (Recorded January 20, 2012) This fine Sammy Fain number was introduced to the world when Maurice Chevalier sang it to Claudette Colbert in the 1930 film, The Big Pond. In the 1931 Marx Brothers flick, Monkey Business, each sibling—Zeppo, Chico, and Groucho—tries in his turn to fake out a customs agent on a ship by using Chevalier’s stolen passport and singing a few bars of this tune mimicked in Chevalier’s style, only to be ejected one at a time by the official. Finally, Harpo, with a hidden record player strapped to his back, hilariously mimes Chevalier, and havoc ensues.

Here, I play the Epiphone banjo uke, which happens to have been built probably 5-7 years before this tune was written. The lead ukulele work during the break is with the Earnest La Paula, and natch, I whistle some. Hope you enjoy it!