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« Happy Birthday, Jerry Kern | Main | Things Ben Mirov Thinks are Rad: Post 3 of ??? »

January 27, 2011

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I treasure this Laura, however I object to you calling him JERRY. You hardly knew the man. GC

Au contraire. We were very close.

I can vouch for Laura, Grace. She and Jerry were a fixture on the club scene back in the day.

Wonderful post. "Ol' Man River" is possibly the greatest song in the history of Broadway musicals, and there's a lot of competition. A very difficult song from the vocalist's point of view, it requires a leap of an octave and a half from the end of the release to the last notes. I believe Sinatra himself changed the wording to "Here we all work." His version of the song in that 1946 biopic -- well worth seeing, by the way -- is outstanding and showcases perfectly his amazing vocal ability. (Listen to how he sustains the note between the bridge and "I gits weary"). Jerry loved Sinatra's cover -- as did Louis B. Mayer, who was moved to tears when FS did it at the Hollywood Bowl. A toast to Jerry and Oscar!

I totally agree that Sinatra had the vocal and emotional chops for the song - but, oy vey! That set! It's cringe-worthy. I prefer later Sinatra performances of it.

But I think I love the Warfield version best. His voice is like velvet and his performance is perfect.

They sure don't write 'em like this any more. Kern and Hammerstein were brave and brilliant.

DL - do you know if the story about the premier of "Show Boat" is accurate?

LO, I don't know whether or not the story's true. I do know that they monkeyed with the show an awful lot over the years, and not just the wording of "Ol' Man River," but whole songs were dropped and others added with each revival, so that in a sense there's no definitive "Show Boat" as there is, say, a definitive "South Pacific" and "Guys and Dolls."

OK. So I'm a huge 'Retha fan but this interpretation is just too much. I just want her to sing the song!

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