On this day in 1988 we lost Frederick Loewe, who composed the music for “I Could Have Danced All Night”. This is a love song from the musical My Fair Lady, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, published in 1956. The song is sung by the musical’s heroine, Eliza Doolittle, expressing her excitement after an impromptu dance with her tutor, Henry Higgins. Interestingly, in the 1964 film adaptation of the musical, the song was sung by Marni Nixon, dubbing the singing voice of Audrey Hepburn, who played Eliza Doolittle in one of her most memorable roles. Check out Audrey Hepburn doing the song on youtube – she does an excellent job of lip syncing, although I’ve read that she also had a great voice!
“The Theme from Some Story”, written by Francis Lai, kicks off our Valentine’s day songs. Love Story is considered one of the most romantic films ever by the American Film Institute (and the one that gave rise to the famous quote: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Still can’t understand that one!) This is the 1970 role that catapulted Ali McGraw to international fame. In fact, in 1972, MacGraw was voted the top female box office star in the world. I just realized that this timeless song may have been written in a classical fashion to coincide with the fact that MacGraw’s character was a student of classical music.
Here’s a one-minute cover of the Tennessee Waltz, one of my favorite songs, written by Redd Steward and Pee Wee King.
“I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover” was composed by Henry MacGregor Woods, who also wrote the music for “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)”! Although Woods became legendary from this song, in modern times the song is probably most associated with Merrie Melodies cartoons (maybe that’s where I first heard it). It’s also a common tune played by the string bands in Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade (a shout out to my home town, Philadelphia! Picture the Mummers strutting to this song at the speed that I’m playing it! Pretty funny!) This song is dedicated to my friends AB, Brett, Gene, Aileen, Jason and Nathan. Dr. Weiss
On This Day (June 18) in 1942, Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool. I’m sure glad he met the other guys and I was around to hear it. I’ve always thought that “Let It Be” is one of the true classic piano solos. For years I thought I understood that ‘Let It Be’ meant ‘to leave things as they are’, with a pacifist connotation. And also that ‘Mother Mary’ had religious overtones. Now I understand that ‘Let it Be’ was meant more in a prayerful way, hoping for words of wisdom and an answer to times of trouble (as in, ‘let it be soon’) with a timeless message. Anyway, it’s a beautiful, inspiring song. I know that it’s inspired me over the years. And ‘Mother Mary’ was actually about his deceased mother Mary, who had just seen in a dream - but I’m sure that Paul was OK with the ambiguity. Happy Birthday, Paul Dr. Weiss Bosendorfer piano sound: for this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. [...]
On This Day in 1972 (June 17), “Stella Blue” was first performed by the Grateful Dead at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (47 years ago today!) If you’re already a Grateful Dead fan, the song needs no introduction. But for those of you who have never been to a Dead show, after you hear the first notes of this song you just settle down into your chair to enjoy a mellow few minutes and enjoy the tasteful light show! I look at it as a musical impressionistic work of art. Impressionism is a style or movement in painting originating in France in the 1860s, characterized by a concern with depicting the visual impression of the moment, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and color. It’s an artistic style that seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve accurate depiction. In music it’s a style of composition (associated especially with Debussy) in which clarity of structure and theme is subordinate to harmonic effects. Robert Hunter’s phrases such as ‘all the years combine, they melt into a dream’, ‘there's nothing you can hold for very long’, and ’it seems like all this life was just [...]
More Than You Know I am a big fan of female jazz vocalists. This is a song that was famously sung by two of my favorites, Bille Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald (among many, many others.) I probably first heard their version while I was an intern in Hartford, Connecticut. I shared a house with a jazz DJ who gradually introduced me to many jazz LPs every night on his way to his bedroom upstairs. I fell in love with their voices and this song. (By the way, composer Vincent Youmans also wrote the music for Tea for Two.) Thanks again, Todd. (Happy Birthday!) Enjoy, Dr. Weiss
Just saw Rocketman this weekend. Elton, this one is dedicated to you.
No words needed here. The music and lyrics speak for itself. Related post: Memorial Day Tribute 2016 - America the Beautiful
If Dogs Run Free - Happy Birthday Bob! On this day in 1941, Bob Dylan was born. I first heard this song from the album New Morning when I was 17 and a freshman at NYU. This song fragment contains one of my favorite lines: 'Just do your thing, you’ll be king.' This beat jazz homage featured Bob Dylan’s spoken word poetry, scat-singing Maeretha Stewart and Al Kooper on piano. Kooper was known for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears, providing studio support for Bob Dylan when he went electric in 1965, and bringing together guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills to record the Super Session album (BTW, if you haven’t listened to this album, then do!) I thought the jazz intro was just so cool, and Dylan’s mysterious and, as always, inscrutable words were among his best (where to start?) such as ‘my mind weaves a symphony and tapestry of rhyme’ and ’to each his own, it’s all unknown’. Anyway, Happy Birthday Bob! Enjoy, Dr. Weiss This was dedicated to Luis. Related video: Forever Young - On This Day