This video clip is even better than the one I posted on Dean Martin 's birthday (June 7) of the famous reconciliation scene during the Jerry Lewis Telethon of 1976 twenty years after he and Dean Martin broke up their world-famous comedy act, with "Jer" playing the out of control overgrown teenager. and "Dino," nine years older, the straight man and Lothario. They had enjoyed a ten-year-run of movies and sold out appearances at the Copa and other such hot spots when they decided, like many a couple, that they had irreconcilable differences and couldn't endure another day in each other's company. The Telethon enounter, arranged by the Godfather, was the first time they saw or spoke to each other after twenty years of stony silence. Sinatra: "I think it's time, don't you?" [Imagine if you could reconcile two warring nations this way.]. Notice the cigarettes -- not as props but as part of the routine in several senses. The Dean-Jerry exchange is sweet: "So. . . how ya been? . . . There were all these rumors about our break-up and when I came out to do the show and you weren't here I knew they were true. . .So. . .ya workin'?" Dean, on why they broke up: "Because I was a Jew and you were a Dago." The phone number line is good, the duet with Dean and Sinatra is funny ("I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Too Marvelous for Words"), and though Dean is not in the best voice, the sequence helps substantiate Jerry's assertion that he was the greatest straight man of all time. -- DL
words by Hub Atwood
music by Carroll Coats
arrangement by Nelson Riddle
vocals & collage by Tony Rizzi
Sinatra sings it on "A Swingin' Affair." When they dropped "The Lady is a Tramp" from the album (because of the release of "Pal Joey" in which he sings it), this was the song that they substituted. They. -- DL
Back in January 2008, when Dwight Garner was editing the "Living with Music" blog for the New York Times, I got to write a column on my top twenty Sinatra tracks from the 1940s, an enviable assignment and one that I had a swell time with. Here my first five entries -- with a link to the site. -- DL
David Lehman’s January 2008 “Young Blue Eyes” Playlist:
Sometimes overshadowed by the Capitol Years (1953-1961) or the years after when “our hoodlum singer” (as Johnny Carson put it) became the iconic leader of the Rat Pack, the 1940s are the closest thing to a forgotten decade in Frank Sinatra’s career. This is a lovely way to spend an evening:
1) All or Nothing at All (music by Arthur Altman, words by Jack Lawrence). Though initially recorded on the day before the Nazis invaded Poland, this most famous of the songs Sinatra sang with the Harry James Orchestra is eligible here on a technicality. The 1939 recording didn’t become a hit until it was re-released as a single four years later, during a prolonged (and ruinous) musicians’ strike, when Columbia Records was desperate for material. Sinatra in 1944: “It’s a funny thing about that song. The recording we made of it five years ago is now in one of the top spots among the best sellers. But it’s the same old recording. It’s also the song I used to audition for Tommy Dorsey who signed me on the strength of it. And now it’s my first big record.” The final bar of the vocal is miraculous.
2) I’ll Never Smile Again (Ruth Lowe). As recorded on May 23, 1940, by the Dorsey orchestra with Sinatra and the Pied Pipers vocal group. Jo Stafford, then the golden female voice of the Pied Pipers, likes to say that within a few bars of first hearing Sinatra sing, she knew. You’ll hear why the first of his nicknames was “The Voice.”
3) Oh! Look At Me Now (Joe Bushkin music and John De Vries lyrics). January 6, 1941. Another gem from the three years Sinatra spent as Tommy Dorsey’s boy singer. In the allegory of Sinatra’s career, this song – which he recorded as a solo on “A Swingin’ Affair” in 1957 – figures heavily: “I’m so proud I’m bustin’ my vest.” Sung here as a duet with Connie Haines backed by the Pied Pipers.
4) Be Careful, It’s My Heart (Irving Berlin). June 9, 1942. Like Artie Shaw, Sinatra recognized the value of recording not only current hits but a repertory of songs written by the masters, and thus he did as much as anyone to (1) extend the life of the music and (2) launch the concept of the “standard.” In this excellent Dorsey arrangement of an underrated Berlin ballad, Tommy’s trombone beautifully states the melody all the way through and then comes Sinatra’s vocal.
5) (There’ll be a) Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (Joe Bushkin music and John De Vries lyrics). I’ve heard two versions of this tune that Bushkin (Lee Wylie’s pianist) wrote to boost morale among the troops abroad. The CBS radio broadcast of Oct. 17, 1943, which became a V-disc, is interesting for its variant lyrics (“Michigan” rhymes with “gimme some skin”), but I prefer the more relaxed delivery of March 4, 1944 (arranged by Axel Stordahl; available on the “Frank Sinatra in Hollywood” boxed set; disc 1, number 19). This is one of “the songs that fought the war,” in John Bush Jones’s phrase. Our lads were going “to take a hike / through Hitler’s Reich / and change his Heil to whatcha-know-Joe.”
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Hey, Dave, remember the time we went to the cocktail party at MOMA and ran into -- well, you know. "That's Life"! Happy birthday, buddy. Love, Frank.
Sinatra, snapping out of a haze,
noticed me sitting across from him
“Who the fuck are you?”
Just another fan, I said, on the day he died
I made anagrams out of his name
satin, sin, stain, stair, train, rain, star
and figured out my last message
I mean what I would say to him now
“your goodbye left me with eyes that cry”
on the other hand you left me the history
of your voice the record of the American century
from Roosevelt to Reagan you will live on
whenever I need to hear you (it has to be you)
sing “I Get Along Without You Very Well”
(Strand’s favorite) or “I’m a Fool to Want You”
(my choice) when your lover has gone
-- 5 / 15 / 98
In August 1914 Jerome Kern wrote a song to interpolate in a Broadway musical imported from Britain. The song is "They Didn't Believe Me." It is the first modern ballad, just as Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is the first of the uptempo classic American popular songs. Sinatra never recorded "They Didn't Believe Me" but someone taped his live performance of it, in the late 1940s, crooner style, screaming bobbysoxers and all. Here 'tis. The repetition of the last clause is Sinatra's innovation. You might also check out Johnny Mercer's swinging cover of the same wonderful song.
While Sonny is driving alone in his car, he's listening to the October 3,1951 radio broadcast of Russ Hodges calling the decisive third game of the Dodgers-Giants playoff -- a half-inning before Bobby Thomson ended the Dodgers' season with the "Shot Heard 'Round the World, which many consider the national pastime's all-time greatest moment.
Of the main cast, four pairs of actors share a birthday: Al Pacino and Talia Shire (April 25), Diane Keaton and Robert Duvall (January 5), James Caan and Sterling Hayden (March 26), and Abe Vigoda and Al Lettieri (February 24).
Whether it is, as many of us think, one of the two or three greatest of all movies, The Godfather is certainly a script that the certified US male of a certain class knows much of by heart. For more exquisite Godfather trivia (Jews play Sonny and Tessio, an Italian plays the Jewish Moe Greene) go here.
It snowed overnight. . . but we've got brand new snow tires and Mr Sinatra to croon the words by Sammy Cahn, the music by Jule Styne.
When you watch the film version of Guys and Dolls, you sometimes get the feeling that Nathan Detroit and Adelaide (Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine) are in one movie, a hoot, while Sky Masterson and Sister Sarah of the Salvation Army (Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons) occupy an alternative universe, much more serious and deep and dramatic.
Sinatra and Brando were rivals. Brando, who did not have the better voice, got the best songs. Frank Loesser did write a serenade for Frankie boy to sing to Adelaide, but the lad must have eaten his heart out to hear Brando's thin nasal rendition of "Luck Be a Lady Tonight."
Brando on Sinatra in heaven: "That guy is going to give God an earful for making him go bald."
Sinatra on Brando, whom he called "Mumbles": "I hear they're making a movie of the Bible. They wanted Mumbles to play God but he held out for a better part."
Audience participation portion: do you like the way Brando dances in the Cuba scene? Do you miss the songs dropped from the stage version -- such as "A Bushel and a Peck," "I've Never Been in Love Before," and "Marry the Man Today"? What do you think of "Your eyes are the eyes of a woman in love"? What's the best song in the show? Why do I think "G & D" is the consummate Broadway musical? Do you agree? -- DL
Many a time I have gone to the movies and felt that the song over the closing credits is the best thing about the film. Sinatra's "New York, New York" trumps everything that comes before it in "Summer of Sam," as does the same singer's "Its Nice to Go Traveling" at the end of "Executive Decision" and Vaughn Monroe's "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" at the end of "Die Hard." I thought of this phenomenon tonight watching the end of "Eight Men Out" (1988) about the Black Sox scandal of 1919. When the closing credits come on, you hear a fanstastic cover of "After You've Gone" by Leigh Harris. She gives us three refrains from the immortal song, lyrics by Henry Creamer, music by J. Turner Layton -- but only after she delivers the verse. You usually don't hear the verse. Lyrically it's OK and musically it leaves us, at its end, exactly where we need to be. After you've gone and left me crying, / After you've gone there's no denying, / You'll feel blue, you'll feel sad / You'll miss the bestest pal you ever had. / There'll come a time, now don't forget it, / there'll come a time when you'll reget it, / someday when you grow lonely, / your heart will break like mine, you'll want me only, / after you've gone, after you've gone away." What a pleasure just to write it out. You should hear Judy Garland do it in Carnegie Hall 1961. You should hear Al Jolson do it. But don't overlook Ms. Leigh Harris, a new name to me, but a hell of a singer. -- DL
92Y’S LYRICS & LYRICISTS™ Presents
“The Crowd's at El Morocco: The Heyday of the New York Nightclubs”
JULIE WILSON to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cole Porter Family
DEBORAH GRACE WINER, Artistic Director, Writer & Host
JOHN ODDO, Music Director & Piano
MARK WALDROP, Stage Director
DEBBY BOONE, vocals
LA TANYA HALL, vocals
JAMES NAUGHTON, vocals
BILLY STRITCH, vocals
KAREN ZIEMBA, vocals
Sat, April 30 / 8 pm / $62 & $52
Sun, May 1 / 2 pm / $67 & $55
Sun, May 1 / 7 pm / $62 & $52
Mon, May 2 / 2 pm / $62 & $52
Mon, May 2 / 8 pm / $67 & $55
Under-35 ticket price of $25 available for Saturday and Sunday evening shows
New York, NY: April 15, 2011 – Once upon a time, right here in New York City, storied clubs – swanky hotel supper clubs, zebra-striped celebrity showcases, smoky after-hour boîtes – ruled the night. Places like The Stork Club, Copacabana, Persian Room and Latin Quarter (run by Lou Walters, father of Barbara ) were meccas where songwriters, singers and society mingled and fueled American popular music. Author and Lyrics & Lyricists™ series artistic director Deborah Grace Winer takes the helm as artistic director/writer/host for The Crowd’s at El Morocco: The Heyday of the New York Nightclubs, on April 30 and May 1, 2. Joining her are vocalists Debby Boone, La Tanya Hall, James Naughton, Billy Stritch and Karen Ziemba.
The default on my satellite radio is 73, "Seriously Sinatra," which is almost always great, not least because you get to hear guest disc jockeys like Steve Lawrence talk about singing, maybe sing a few bars and tell an anecdote. There was the time Steve was sitting alone and Dean Martin walked in and said "Hello Steve and Eydie."
This afternoon we're listening to the singer Julius La Rosa, who was once famous for quitting (or being fired from) Arthur Godfrey's morning TV show. He was the show's singer, and a damned good one, but he had the nerve to ask for a raise. Godfrey said he "lacked humility." At least that's how I remember it, but I was maybe ten years old at that time, so I'm not ceertain I have all the details right.
Brooklyn boy "Julie" La Rosa is playing Sinatra's definitive "One for My Baby" to illustrate how Sinatra "acted the song." This is an insight one has heard before, but now La Rosa is advancing the thesis that Sinatra "improved" Cole Porter, To do so, La Rosa relies on his reliable baritone to demonstrate the rhythmical difference between what the "melodically magnificent" Porter wrote and Sinatra's swinging rendition of the first line of "I've Got You Under My Skin." The melody is indeed marvelous, but Porter's equally marvelous lyric requires a different rhythm -- the behind-the-beat finger-snapping swing that Sinatra perfected. Now La Rosa is playing the Sinatra cover. I shall pause for three minutes and forty three seconds to listen. Sublime.
Now La Rosa is doing the same thing with "It Was Just One of Those Things." And now "I Get a Kick Out of You." He sings the opening bars as written and then he sings the same in the Sinatra manner to show that Sinatra discovered the song within the song -- the rhythmical delivery without which Porter's music and words would be incomplete. How often have I listened to Sinatra's take on Porter in such Nelson Riddle-arranged records as "Songs for Swinging Lovers" and "Songs for Young Lovers / Swing Easy." But LaRosa has come up with the best radio intro to this trio of Porter tunes that I have ever heard. DL
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.