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Elizabeth Samet

Great Songs of Cinema [by Elizabeth Samet]

Judy GarlandWhat do you think of first? “Over the Rainbow,” “As Time Goes By,” “Singin’ in the Rain”? Win, place, and show on the AFI’s “Top Movie Songs of All Time” list. My pick, Judy Garland’s devastating “The Man That Got Away,” from A Star is Born, comes in at #11. It was another Garland song, “Get Happy,” the triumphant final number in Summer Stock, that launched what became a feature in my film class this semester: “Movie Song of the Day.” This innovation was inspired by some extremely music-savvy students in the class—astonishingly well versed in everything from Alternative Country to Tin Pan Alley, nearly impossible to stump, able to hum obscure covers of obscurer originals. Lately, owing to their tutelage, I find myself with a rather eclectic mix on the iPod.... It is one wild ride to work in the morning. After Garland, I brought in everything from Fred Astaire’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (Blue Skies) to The Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man,” one of the many songs featured in that magnificent montage toward the end of Goodfellas. One morning I played The Doors’ “Peace Frog,” featured in, of all movies, The Waterboy—a fact one member of the class announced even before Morrison had time to warm up. My students also began to bring in their favorites: Bobby Bare’s cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s alkin’” (Midnight Cowboy), Keith Carradine’s “I’m Easy” (Nashville), Citizen Cope’s “Bullet and a Target” (Alpha Dog).

from the archive; first posted Novdmber 22, 2014

November 22, 2014

December 02, 2009

May 24, 2008

May 19, 2008

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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

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