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!


Then I’ll Be Tired of You

14 04 2011

Then I’ll Be Tired of You—A. Schwartz/ E.Y. Harburg, 1934 (Recorded April 14, 2011) Here’s a tune from the same time period to contrast with the last one I posted, “I’ve Got to Pass Your House….” This one is a pretty ballad with a straightforward lyric of the type that invokes the nickname “Standard” for songs of this era. I toned down the FX this time, adding just a bit of EQ and reverb. Fats Waller did this in his swing time, but I’m partial to Jeri Southern’s smoky vocal turn, from which I learned to play the intro verse.

[There—fixed the number]

Moon of My Delight

24 03 2011

Moon of My Delight—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1928 (Recorded March 24, 2011) I’m not sure why I’m on such a Rodgers and Hart kick these days. I think I heard one of their tunes as a TV jingle or something. Then I remembered that I once read Richard Rodgers’s Musical Stages: An Autobiography, which then reminded me that R&H (and H) were among my earliest musical influences, both as a child and later as a young-adult ukulele-enthusiast. I have a childhood memory of being at a luncheonette in my old neighborhood and hearing Sinatra on the jukebox singing “The Lady Is a Tramp” and confusing it with the Disney cartoon but also imagining a woman dressed in hobo’s clothing. These few R&H numbers I’ve added in the past two days were some of the first songs I learned to play on the uke, too.

“Moon of My Delight” is a delightful moon song, and I thought it would be appropriate to record it now that the real moon is at a close perigee distance from the earth. I learned the tune from the cut on the recording session Mary Martin did with Richard Rodgers which resulted in the excellent Mary Martin Sings, Richard Rodgers Plays album which I listened to until the vinyl record wore out and then I had to buy the CD.

Where or When

24 03 2011

Where or When—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1937 (Recorded March 24, 2011) This well-known R&H song was used for their 1937 Broadway musical, Babes in Arms. It became a favorite of jazz players and pop singers in the decades after its first appearance, and as a ballad whose lyric reflects on the mysteries of human attraction, it makes its point very well. Lena Horne taught this song to me (from a recording, of course, but also in my dreams).

Dancing on the Ceiling

23 03 2011

Dancing on the Ceiling—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1930 (Recorded March 23, 2011) I’m posting a couple of Rodgers and Hart songs for this round. This is a purdy little tune written originally for the 1930 musical, Ever Green. “Dancing on the Ceiling” has had a popular livelihood, with more cover recordings to its name than the other two R&H songs I’ve just posted. Sinatra sang it on his In The Wee Small Hours record, and Ella and June Christy and Jeri Southern cut it, too. Nice.

(Also just replaced the mp3s for these 3 new tunes with the properly tagged files…I ain’t getting the hang of that little bit of meta-maintenance.)

To Keep My Love Alive

23 03 2011

To Keep My Love Alive—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1943 (Recorded March 23, 2011) This is a comical tune written especially for the 1943 revival of R&H’s earlier musical, A Connecticut Yankee. It’s said to be the last lyric Lorenz Hart wrote before he died from pneumonia. A tragic bastard he was, that Hart, but quite clever.

We’ll Be the Same

23 03 2011

We’ll Be the Same—R. Rodgers/L. Hart, 1931 (Recorded March 23, 2011) Here’s one from their 1931 Broadway musical America’s Sweetheart. This is a swingy, happy tune that you don’t hear very often.