Tips on Tables - By Robert W. Dana - November 30, 1945
Sinatra Takes Over Wedgewood Room and Wins Crowd Despite His Illness
The quality of laryngitis is strained these nights at the Waldorf-Astoria's Wedgwood Room where Frank Sinatra is making a belated start on a short engagement. It is painfully obvious that he shouldn't be singing until he has had proper rest yet he sang 14 numbers Wednesday night, the concluding one "Old Man River."
Ordinarily the slim technician of modern song-phrasing is in his element with a large band behind him-wasn't he once a swing band vocalist? And Dick Stable's 22-piece band, featuring numerous violins and a harp, lends splendid support, but the voice that has hypnotized millions was like a butterfly in a whirlpool.
It was a masterful performance, nevertheless. There was the familiar stance, the bending of the microphone, the intent, searching glance that swept back and forth across the room in piercing penetration of the customers' thoughts and feelings and moods. He'd even turn now and then and seem to signal facilely to his piano accompanist.
Rises to His Best.
Frank's opening number was "Paper Moon"- light, airy and huskily fragile. Next came "It Might as Well Be Spring," "Laura" and "Its Been a Long, Long Time."The fifth tune was Irving Berlin's memorable "How Deep Is the Ocean," which is having a notable rebirth among top favorites. It revealed Sinatra at his best, too. From then on the singer seemed to have his laryngitis licked and the program became vibrant. He told of the time Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers were houseguests at his home and wrote a number called "Nancy With the Laughing Face," dedicated to the joy and sparkle that is his daughter. No great shucks of a composition but a tender, touching song.
After rendering "My Romance," from the still-remembered "Jumbo," and "When I Marry Sweet Lorraine," he pulled the first surprise of the evening with "Bess, Where Is My Bess." A haunting, lovely tune, he sang it very well --
Monday, March 31, 2008 @ 7:30 PM
Admission is FREE
85 East 4th Street
(between 2nd Ave. & Bowery)
New York, NY 10003
Aracelis Girmay is the author of Teeth, from Curbstone Press. She was born in Santa Ana, California in 1977, and was raised in Southern California. The inheritor of Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African American traditions, she writes poetry, essays, and fiction. Girmay holds a B.A. from Connecticut College and an M.F.A. in poetry from New York University. Her children's art book, Changing, Changing, was published by George Braziller in 2005. A former Watson fellow and Cave Canem fellow, she has published extensively in journals and literary magazines. Girmay leads community writing workshops throughout New York and California. She currently lives in New York.
Chris Martin is the author of American Music, recipient of the Hayden Carruth Award. His poems have appeared in Cannibal, Swerve, Lungfull!, Tight, Tool, and Forklift, Ohio, among others. He has also recently published an essay on rap as ontological act in the Canadian philosophy journal Poiesis and an essay on the drawing of Saul Chernick in the Portland-based journal Yeti. He lives near the Brooklyn zoo and teaches near the one in Central Park.
Lee Wiley (1908-1975) was the greatest girl singer you may never have heard of. Try her interpreations of these tunes:
Let's Fall in Love O! Look at Me Now Manhattan Street of Dreams Soft Lights and Sweet Music Time On My Hands Looking at You More Than You Know My One and Only Ghost of a Chance How Long Has this Been Goiung On? I've Got a Crush on You Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Glad To Be Unhappy
The lyricist Johnny Mercer -- who wrote the words for Jeepers Creepers and That Old Black Magic and I'm Old-Fashioned and Sylark and Blues in the Night -- and who? Who is the lovely leggy lady? Is it Dinah Shore?
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) has been called “the greatest minor poet in the English language.” There’s plenty of competition for this curious distinction, but the case for Marvell is strong, especially if you like ambiguity and elegance in equal measure. Marvell happens to be one of the great mystery men of English letters. He had a gift for foreign languages, was an avid fencer, and lived a shadowy life on the continent that led to speculation that he was a spy or double agent. For twenty years he served as a member of parliament. He did not produce a large amount of poetry, but what he wrote was, as Spencer Tracey said of Katharine Hepburn’s anatomy, “cherce.”
Probably Marvell’s most famous poem is “To His Coy Mistress.” Never was a declaration of lust more logical. Carpe diem: We won’t be young forever, so let us make merry while we can. But Marvell develops the argument as one would a syllogism. He begins with wild hyperbole. If we had “world enough and time,” he would woo the maiden “ten years before the flood” and not mind if she should turn him down until the second coming.
But with the inevitable “but,” the tone changes drastically from genial to threatening: “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” And now Marvell warns the lady that someday “worms will try / that long-preserv’d virginity”of hers – a grim image you’d not expect to find in a seduction poem. The stanza closes with a sarcastic couplet for the ages: “The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none I think do there embrace.”
The third and final stanza clinches the argument as the lovers clinch. The image ofthe lovers rolled into a ball concludes the poem in an outburst of violence. But the violence is contained; Marvell pushes the couplet to the breaking point: “Let us roll all our strength and all / Our sweetness up into one ball, / And tear our pleasures with rough strife / Through the iron gates of life.” T. S. Eliot liked the image so much he lifted it for “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
When Oliver Cromwell returned to England after subjugating Ireland in 1650, Marvell greeted him with “An Horatian Ode” that set some sort of record for calculated ambiguity. This stately, grave ode can be read as straightforward praise of the conquering hero who had beheaded King Charles I and would, as the poem predicts, go on to suppress the Scots. But subtle critics have propounded the opposite interpretation, contending that the ode has a secret royalist agenda and is deeply critical of Cromwell. And so this mid-seventeenth-century poem became a perfect object lesson in mid-twentieth-century literary criticism.
Read Marvell’s “The Garden” for his double vision of paradise lost and paradox gained. “Two paradises ‘twere in one / To live in paradise alone.” Before you declare your disagreement with this proposition, consider the mathematical metaphor Marvell employs. And then re-read the first three chapters of Genesis.
Possibly no one, not even Pope, wrote couplets more complex and witty than those of Andrew Marvell.
In discussing the supposed gulf between abstract and representational art, the late French painter Jean Helion wrote in his journal: "I wonder . . . whether all the valid painting being done today doesn't bear certain resemblances which escape us at the present time." One could wonder the same thing about poetry, but in the meantime, while we wait for uniform utopia, the dissimilarities -- the splintering, the impurity -- could be those of life itself. Life is what present American poetry gets to seem more like, and the more angles we choose to view it from, the more its amazing accidental abundance imposes itself.