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. ;°)

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My Old Man

17 06 2012

My Old Man—B. Hanighen/J. Mercer, 1933 (Recorded June 17, 2012) It’s said that Johnny Mercer and Bernie Hanighen wrote this tune expressly for one of Johnny’s favorite acts of the day, the popular string-and-vocal band, the Spirits of Rhythm. In the spirit of Father’s Day, I dedicate this song to my old man, who died just a couple of days after his 60th birthday way back in September of 1982. Hope there’s barrels of whisky keeping you frisky wherever you are, you ol’ devil! (I don’t believe in an afterlife, but still.)





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.





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. ;°)





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!





You and I

18 05 2011

You and I—Meredith Willson, 1941 (Recorded May 18, 2011) I picked up this catchy tune from the Sinatra/Dorsey version, which was a hit for nine months in 1941. Of course, Willson is best known for his later work, “The Music Man,” which premiered on Broadway in 1957.

I used the Epiphone banjo uke on this one, and got the take in “only” 9 tries. I made the whistling part sound echoey, because, well, that’s how whistling should sound.