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Suddenly

(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings is a popular song, written by Laurent Henri Herpin (music), Jean Marie Blauvillain (aka “Jamblan”) (French lyrics), and Harold Jacob Rome (English lyrics). The song was first introduced in France in 1942 by Jean Sablon under the title Ma Mie. In 1944, it was introduced by the elegant, single-named cabaret singer, Hildegarde under the English title, (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings. The English version of the song was used in the 1945 musical comedy, Anchors Aweigh, and sung by the pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face, Kathryn Grayson. Grayson’s most memorable roles came in the early 1950s. They were Show Boat (1951), where she played “Magnolia,” opposite Ava Gardner and Howard Keel; Kiss Me Kate (1953), playing actress “Lilli Vanessi,” who portrayed “Katherine” in the film’s “show within a show,” a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. In 1953, she exited MGM, then made only one more film, The Vagabond King (1956) at Paramount. She later worked in nightclubs and on stage.

 Anchors Aweigh starred Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly and while (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings was one of its better moments, the film is best known for the “King Who Couldn’t Dance” sequence, a mixture of animation and live action that features Kelly dancing with Jerry the mouse (of Tom and Jerry fame). This sequence deserves its reputation, for the blend is seamless and the dancing is captivating.

The song was also played and sung throughout the 1946 film, Young Widow, starring John Wayne, Jane Russell, and Louis Hayward. (I do not know who sang the song in the film.)

In the song, (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings, as each line of the song is sung, the melody line goes up the scale. Upon reaching the highest note, each continuing line comes down the scale. Those who tackle this song need to have a voice with a wide range, which may account for the fact that only two versions of the song ever made it to the Billboard charts. Of possible interest, is the fact that one of the versions to reach the Billboard charts was by Johnnie Johnston, who later was married to Kathryn Grayson. So both husband and wife recorded the song, though not together. The other charted version was by Martha Stewart (No, not that Martha Stewart!)

 The song speaks remembering all “the crazy things we say and do” that makes the lover’s heart sing. The song is reminiscent of some other “remembering” songs, including Little Things Mean A Lot, made popular by Kitty Kallen in 1954, and These Foolish Things, made popular by several artists, including Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Johnny Hartman, Frankie Laine, Sam Cooke, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr., Aaron Neville, Bryan Ferry, Rod Stewart, and James Brown.  

 THE LYRICS

 (ALL OF A SUDDEN) MY HEART SINGS

Music by Laurent Henri Herpin; English lyrics by Harold Jacob Rome

All of a sudden my heart sings

When I remember little things

The way you dance and hold me tight

The way you kiss and say good night

The crazy things we say and do

The fun it is to be with you

The magic thrill that’s in your touch

Oh darling, I love you so much

The secret way you press my hand

To let me know you understand

The wind and rain upon your face

The breathless world of your embrace

Your little laugh and half-surprise

The star light gleaming in your eyes

Remembering all those little things

All of a sudden my heart sings

THE RECORDINGS

(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings

Johnnie Johnston

Kathyrn Grayson

Martha Stewart

Hildegarde

Connie Haines

Eugenie Baird

Jack Carroll

Guy Lombardo

Duke Ellington (vocal by Joya Sherrill)

Frances Faye

Nellie Lutcher

Mireille Matthieu

Paul Anka

Ma Mie (French version)

Jean Sablon

Charles Trenet

La Chorale Des Enfants de l’Opera Paris

Per un momento ho perso te (Italian version)

 Fausto Leali  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nostalgia For a Lost Love

Autumn-Leaves
The Beatles’ 1965 song Yesterday may be the most recorded song according to The Guinness World Records, but Autumn Leaves has to rank up there pretty high, as evidenced by the number of recordings in this post. And these recordings are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Originally, Autumn Leaves was a 1945 French song entitled Les Feuilles Mortes (literally “The Dead Leaves”) with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by French surrealist poet Jacques Prévert. The Hungarian title is Hulló levelek (“Falling Leaves”).

Movie poster for the film Les Portes de la Nuit

Movie poster for the film Les Portes de la Nuit


The Italian born, French singing idol Yves Montand introduced the song in the 1946 film Les Portes de la Nuit, a gloomy urban drama set in post World War II Paris. Scriptwriter and poet Jacques Prevért and director Marcel Carné had been responsible for a string of films spawning the French “poetic realism,” a genre upon that the American film noir movement was based. Although Les Portes de la Nuit was a commercial failure, it fared much better when released in the United States several years later under the title Gates of the Night.

As the 1940’s waned, so too did the public’s appetite for the Tin Pan Alley style ballad. With decreasing demand for his sophisticated talents, lyricist Johnny Mercer found himself penning words for instrumentals. In the case of Les Feuilles Mortes, Mercer would not have thought twice about renaming what was literally “The Dead Leaves” to “Autumn Leaves.” “The Dead Leaves” may have been an appropriate song title for the somber Les Portes de la Nuit, but it would not do for an American popular song.

Initially the public showed little interest in Autumn Leaves. Jo Stafford was among the first to perform the Mercer version. Autumn Leaves became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both in French and English, both as an instrumental and as a vocal number. There is also a Japanese version called Kareha sung by none other than Nat “King” Cole!

On December 24, 1950, French singer Edith Piaf sang both French and English versions of the song on the radio program The Big Show, hosted by Tallulah Bankhead. The Melachrino Strings recorded an instrumental version of the song in London in August, 1950.

In 1955, however, all that changed. Pianist Roger Williams recorded a million-seller, number-one hit rendition of the song that stayed on the Billboard charts for six months. Williams’ recording is the only piano instrumental to ever reach the number one position on the Billboard chart. Williams’ success opened the door for a second spate of covers by Steve Allen, Mitch Miller, Jackie Gleason, Victor Young, and the Ray Charles Singers. All of these versions charted on Billboard’s chart. These covers would be followed by hundreds of renditions in subsequent decades.

In 1956, Columbia Pictures produced a film entitled Autumn Leaves starring Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson. It is a generally well-reviewed tale of a spinster marrying a young man who has mental problems as a result of his ex-wife’s (Vera Miles) affair with his father (Lorne Green). Nat King Cole once again sang the song (this time in English) during the credits.

Frank Sinatra included a version of the song on his 1956 album Where Are You? Andy Williams released a version of the song on his 1959 album, Lonely Street. Raquel Bitton recorded a version in 2000 that appears on her album Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf. Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that is a real surprise. This version is from the unissued Caribou sessions from 1980, produced by Eddie Kilroy while Jerry Lee Lewis was with Elektra. Around forty tracks were taped at the Caribou ranch in Colorado in November and overdubs were made in 1981 and 1982, but no tracks were officially released. Listen to it and see what I mean.

In 1962, Serge Gainsbourg wrote a song entitled La Chanson de Prevert. This is a song about a song, for it is about Les Feuilles Mortes and how its power to revive memories kept dead loves alive. References to Verlaine’s Chanson d’Automne hint at its relation to classical French literature.

Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou recorded the song for her first 1996 album, In a Jazz Mood. The song also appears on Iggy Pop’s 2009 album Préliminaires as the opening track. A version by Eva Cassidy is one of the highlights of her seminal live album Live at Blues Alley (1996). The Electronic duo Coldcut recorded a cover of the song for their 1993 album Philosophy, featuring guest vocalist Janis Alexander on vocals.

And finally in the Pop field, British blues/rock guitarist Eric Clapton recorded a cover of Autumn Leaves in 2010.

In the jazz genre, this tune took almost ten years to catch on as a jazz number, and 1957 saw three excellent recordings. There were versions by Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington.

The Ellington version, taken at a very slow tempo, and featuring Ray Nance on violin is a delight. Nance’s violin playing represented almost the total opposite of his trumpet playing, and he is at his soulful best on Autumn Leaves, where he plays an exquisite, emotional solo; he then fills along with vocalist Ozzie Bailey. The album, Ellington Indigos, offered a different, more sentimental side of the Ellington ensemble and has rarely been out-of-print since it was released.

Singer/pianist Patricia Barber mesmerizes with her version of Autumn Leaves. With her rendition, the song is refurbished with a torch singer’s touch.

The 1958 Cannonball Adderley recording of Autumn Leaves has inspired generations of jazz players. The arrangement, commonly credited to Miles Davis (who is also featured on trumpet here) actually comes mostly from Ahmad Jamal. Nonetheless, this is a recording that really caught on. The following year, Bill Evans made his recorded debut with his groundbreaking trio alongside bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Their version of Autumn Leaves is comparably influential to the Adderley version and offers an essential look at the interplay of these three musicians.

Finally, Autumn Leaves has been included in at least these films: Les Portes de la Nuit (1946, Yves Montand), Autumn Leaves (1956, Nat King Cole), Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (1959, Keely Smith), Addicted to Love (1997, Stephane Grappelli), Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997, Paula Cole), and Sidewalks of New York (2001, Stan Getz)

LYRICS
Autumn Leaves [Les Feuilles Mortes]
Music: Joseph Kosma
French Lyrics: Jacques Prévert
English Lyrics: Johnny Mercer

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

C’est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m’aimais et je t’aimais
Nous vivions tous, les deux ensemble
Toi que m’aimais moi qui t’aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment
Tout doucement sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable les pas des amants désunis

THE RECORDINGS

1. CHARTED VERSIONS [1955]
Roger Williams
Steve Allen/George Gates
Mitch Miller
Jackie Gleason
Victor Young
Ray Charles Singers

2. OTHER RECORDINGS
Jo Stafford
Nat King Cole [Japanese Version]
Edith Piaf
The Melachrino Strings
Serge Gainsbourg: La Chanson de Prévert
Frank Sinatra
Andy Williams
Raquel Bitton
Jerry Lee Lewis
Alexia Vassiliou
Iggy Pop
Eva Cassidy
Coldcut [Janis Alexander, vocals]
Eric Clapton

3. JAZZ VERSIONS
Cannonball Adderley
Bill Evans Trio
Coleman Hawkins
Dizzy Gillespie
Duke Ellington
Patricia Barber

4. MOVIE VERSIONS
Yves Montand Les Portes de la Nuit (1946)
Nat King Cole Autumn Leaves (1956)
Keely Smith Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (1959)
Stephane Grappelli Addicted to Love (1997)
Paula Cole Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997)
Stan Getz Sidewalks of New York (2001)

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Banned in Boston and Everywhere Else For That Matter

While I was researching my last posts for music pertaining to D-Day, I became acutely aware that a significant number of songs were recorded a cappella in 1943. Vocalists such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dick Haymes were singing without orchestral accompaniment and backed by a vocal chorus. I found out that these recordings were the result of a recording ban by the musicians’ union that began in 1942.

James Caesar Petrillo

James Caesar Petrillo

Why this happened is the subject of this post.

On 1 August 1942, the American Federation of Musicians, at the instigation of union president James Petrillo, called a strike against the major American recording companies because of disagreements over royalty payments. Beginning at midnight, 31 July, no union musician could record for any record company. The strike did not affect musicians performing on live radio shows, in concerts.

Petrillo had long thought that recording companies should pay royalties. When he announced that the recording ban would start at midnight, 31 July 1942, most people thought it would not happen. After all, the United States had just entered World War Two on 8 December 1941 and most newspapers opposed the ban. But by July, it was clear that the ban would indeed take place and record companies began to stockpile new recordings of their big names. In the first two weeks of July, for instance, these performers recorded new material: Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, and Glenn Miller. Incidentally, in the case of Glenn Miller, these would be his last recordings as a civilian bandleader. By the last week of July, there was a long list of performers cutting records, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, Alvino Ray, Johnny Long, Claude Thornhill, Judy Garland, Glen Gray, Benny Goodman, Kay Kyser, Dinah Shore, Spike Jones, and Duke Ellington, among others.

At first, the record companies could release these new recordings to meet listeners’ needs from their unissued stockpiles, but eventually this supply was exhausted. The companies also re–released deleted records from their back catalogues, including some from as far back as the mid-1920s. One re–release that was especially successful was Columbia’s release of Harry James’ All or Nothing at All, recorded in August 1939 and released before James’ new vocalist, Frank Sinatra, had made a name for himself. The original release carried the usual credit, “Vocal Refrain by Frank Sinatra” in tiny type. It sold about five thousand copies. When the record was re–released in 1943 with Sinatra given top billing, the label read, “Acc. Harry James and his Orchestra” in tiny type below. It was a portent of things to come. The re-released record was on the best–selling list for eighteen weeks and reached the number two slot on the Billboard charts.

As the strike extended into 1943, record companies bypassed the striking musicians by recording their popular vocalists singing with vocal groups filling the backup role normally filled by orchestras.

The strike had an effect on radio shows that used recorded music due to the limited amount of new recordings. Radio programs that relied mainly on records found it difficult to keep introducing new music to their listeners. Martin Block, host of WNEW’s Make Believe Ballroom radio show, circumvented the ban by having friends in England send him versions of records produced in the United Kingdom where the ban was not in effect. He was forced to discontinue this practice after the station’s house orchestra staged a retaliatory strike, which was settled when WNEW agreed not to broadcast records made after 1 August 1942.

Some recording companies did not have an extensive backlog of recordings and they settled with the union after just over a year. Decca Records settled in September, 1943, agreeing to make direct payments to a union-controlled “relief fund,” followed shortly by Capitol Records on 11 October 1943. Capitol had only issued its first records on 1 July 1942, thirty days before the strike began.

Other recording and transcription companies continued to demand that the musician’s union rescind its ban on musicians recording for those companies.
But the union refused to budge, and with competing companies having made new recordings for more than a year, RCA Victor and Columbia finally capitulated, agreeing to substantially similar terms as the other recording companies on 11 November 1944. The end of the strike was not the end of the royalty issue, however. As television was beginning, there were questions regarding musicians and royalties from this new medium, and a similar strike was called for 1948, lasting close to a year, ending on 14 December 1948.

One unexpected result of the strike was the decline of the importance in popular music of the big bands of the 1930s and early 1940s. The strike was not the only cause of this decline, but it emphasized the shift from big bands with an accompanying vocalist to an emphasis on the vocalist, with the exclusion of the band. In the 1930s and pre–strike 1940s, big bands dominated popular music; after the strike, vocalists dominated popular music. Before the strike began, there were signs that the increasing popularity of singers was beginning to reshape the big bands. When Frank Sinatra joined Tommy Dorsey’s band in 1940, most selections started with a Tommy Dorsey trombone solo. By the time Sinatra left the band in 1942, his songs with the band began with his singing, followed by any solos by Dorsey or others.

During the strike, vocalists could and did record without instrumentalists; instrumentalists could not record for the public at all. (Vocalists were not in the union as they were not considered musicians). Until the war, most singers were props. After the war, they became the stars and the role of the bands was gradually subordinated.
The other major cause of the decline of the big bands was World War II itself – and the resulting loss of band members to the military, curtailment of traveling by touring bands because of gasoline rationing, and a shortage of the shellac used to make records.

One more devastating event, that actually predates the AFM ban, also had a tremendously negative impact on big band music and the Big Band era. This was the ASCAP – BMI war of 1941. ASCAP (American Society of Authors, Publishers, and Composers) wanted more money from the radio networks to use their member’s songs. The networks refused and for nearly a year all ASCAP songs were banned from airplay and remote usage. At first the music suffered greatly as BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.,) had nowhere near the list of talented, and well known, composers like the George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and others, as had ASCAP. In addition the networks imposed a “no ad-libbing” rule on broadcast performances! This rule required solos be written out and approved by the networks so no parts of ASCAP songs would seep into improvised solos! The loss in song quality, inspiration, and energy on live broadcasts was noticeable to the public. Then, not long after this obstacle was traversed, came the ill-timed recording ban described above.

Here is a sampling of these recordings made during the recording ban of 1942-1944.
Bing Crosby
If You Please
Oh What A Beautiful Morning
People Will Say We’re In Love
Sunday, Monday Or Always
Perry Como
Goodbye Sue
Have I Stayed Away Too Long
I Love You
Lili Marlene
Long Ago And Far Away
Frank Sinatra
Close To You
I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night
A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
People Will Say We’re In Love
Sunday, Monday Or Always
You’ll Never Know
Dick Haymes
For The First Time
I Heard You Cried Last Night
I Never Mention Your Name
In My Arms
It Can’t Be Wrong
Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey
Wait For Me, Mary
You’ll Never Know
Dinah Shore
I’ll Walk Alone
Ethel Merman
Move It Over
Ginny Simms
Irresistable You
The Song Spinners
Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer
Johnny Zero
The King Sisters
It’s Love, Love, Love
Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet
The Trolley Song
The Four Vagabonds
Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer

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For Me – For You

dancing2
That’s For Me was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and included in the 1945 version of the musical film State Fair.(See my blog for 9 October entitled “Melancholy Spring Fever” for more on State Fair.) In the 1945 version of the film, Vivian Blaine sings the song. In the 1962 version, many of the original songs were given to different characters. In this case, instead of Blaine’s character singing the song, the song is sung by Pat Boone, portraying Wayne Frake.

Vivian Blaine in a scene from State Fair

Vivian Blaine sings That’s For Me in a scene from State Fair


Vivian Blaine portrays Emily Edwards, a beautiful red-haired singer of a band performing at the fair, who attracts the attention of Iowan farm boy Wayne Frake, played by Dick Haymes. They fall madly for each other, only for Wayne to find out in the end that Emily is married. Wayne does not know that she is married when he first meets Emily. He actually learns that her husband has left her and that the marriage has been on the rocks for a year. Wayne, however, goes back to his old girlfriend in the end and finds happiness. That is how it had to be by 1945 moral standards.

Recordings that charted were made by Jo Stafford, Dick Haymes, and Kay Kyser and his Orchestra.

The recording by Jo Stafford reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart at #4, lasting 4 weeks on the chart. The recording by Dick Haymes reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at #6. Kay Kyser’s version pulled up the rear, peaking at #12 and remaining on the charts for 2 weeks.

There were several other representative recordings of the song, most notably by Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Artie Shaw.

The song as introduced by Vivian Blaine has the following lyrics:
Right between the eyes
Why the belt that blow I felt this morning
Fate gave me no warning
Great was my surprise

I saw you standing in the sun and you were something to see
I know what I like and I liked what I saw
And I said to myself, “That’s for me.”

A lovely morning, I remarked, and you were quick to agree
You wanted to walk and I nodded my head
As I breathlessly said, “That’s for me.”

I left you standing under stars, the day’s adventures are through
There’s nothing for me but the dream in my heart
And the dream in my heart, that’s for you
Oh my darling, that’s for you

The song is later reprised by Margy and Wayne (Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes).
Margy
A lovely morning I remarked
And you were quick to agree
You wanted to walk and I nodded my head
As I breathlessly said, “That’s for me.”

Margy and Wayne
I left you standing under stars
The day’s adventures are through
There’s nothing for me but the dream in my heart
And the dream in my heart – that’s for you!
Oh, my darling – that’s for you.

CHARTED VERSIONS
Jo Stafford, (unidentified orchestra) That’s For Me
Dick Haymes, Victor Young and his Orchestra That’s For Me
Kay Kyser and his Orchestra, vocals by Michael Douglas and The Campus Kids That’s For Me

NON-CHARTED VERSIONS
Doris Day, Les Brown and his Band of Renown That’s For Me
Frank Sinatra, Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra That’s For Me
Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars That’s For Me
Artie Shaw and his Orchestra, vocals by Hal Stevens That’s For Me

FROM THE SOUNDTRACKS
State Fair (1945 )
Vivian Blaine That’s For Me
Jeanne Crain (voice dubbed by Louanne Hogan) and Dick Haymes (Reprise) That’s For Me: Reprise

State Fair(1962)
Pat Boone That’s for Me

Sheet music for That's For Me

Sheet music for That’s For Me

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Show Me!

I Dream of You by Charlotte Lawson

I Dream of You
by Charlotte Lawson


When Eliza Doolittle launches into her musical tirade against Freddy Eynsford-Hill in Alan Jay Lerner’s and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady, the audience is treated to one of the great moments in the musical theater. Eliza sings of her irritation with Freddy, her new suitor, in the following lyrics:
Words! Words! Words!
I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you!
Is that all you blighters can do?

Eliza follows her tirade with a plea to be shown Freddy’s feelings via actions instead of just his talking about how he feels about her. “Show me,” sings Eliza. Her song is a great song and a show-stopper.

I Dream of You (More Than You Dream I Do), a song written by Marjorie Goetschius and Edna Osser and published in 1944 is a song that addresses this same subject. The song concerns a dilemma that just about every couple in love has faced, namely, convincing the other that one’s love is real. Though the song was written in a different era, it could just as easily have been sung by Freddy Eynford-Hill in response to Eliza Doolittle’s challenge of “Show me!” The poor love-sick voice states his case with these words:
You’re completely unaware, dear
That my heart is in your hand
So for love’s sake won’t you listen
And try to understand

I dream of you, more than you dream I do
How can I prove to you this love is real

You’re mean to me, more than you mean to be
You just can’t seem to see the way I feel

When I am close to you, the world is far away
The words that fill my heart my lips can’t seem to say

I want you so, more than you’ll ever know
More than you dream I do, I dream of you

Charted versions were recorded by Andy Russell, by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, by Frank Sinatra, and by Perry Como.
The recording by Andy Russell was released by Capitol Records It first reached the Billboard magazine charts on 21 December 1944 and lasted 3 weeks on the chart, peaking at #5.
The recording by Tommy Dorsey was also made in 1944 and reached the Billboard charts in December of that year and lasted 8 weeks on the chart, peaking at #4.
The recording by Frank Sinatra first reached the Billboard magazine charts on 18 January 1945 and lasted 4 weeks on the chart, peaking at #7.
The recording by Perry Como was made on 8 December1944 and reached the Billboard magazine charts on 18 January1945 and lasted 1 week on the chart, at #10.

To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as
Charted versions
Andy Russell I Dream of You
Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, vocals by Freddie Stewart I Dream Of You
Frank Sinatra, Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra I Dream Of You
Perry Como with orchestra (unidentified) I Dream Of You

Non-charted versions
Alma Cogan I Dream Of You
Les Brown and his Band of Renown, vocals by Doris Day I Dream Of You
Mildred Bailey, Paul Barron and his Orchestra I Dream of You
Count Basie and his Orchestra I Dream Of You
Jerry Lewis I Dream Of You

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Clang, Ding, Chug, Bump, Buzz, and Plop

Catching the Trolley by Charles Borromée Antoine Houry

Catching the Trolley
by Charles Borromée Antoine Houry

Using such words as “clang,” “ding,” “chug,” “bump,” “buzz,” and “plop,” songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane immediately captured the spirit of a turn-of-the-century Saint Louis trolley in much the same way that George Gershwin evoked the various street noises of Paris in the 1920s with his use of some Parisian taxi horns in his classic symphonic tone poem, An American in Paris. Every time I hear those taxi horns, I think of Paris and every time I hear the words “clang, clang, clang,” I think of that trolley car in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis.

The film was adapted by Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe from a series of short stories by Sally Benson, originally published in The New Yorker magazine under the title 5135 Kensington, and later in novel form as Meet Me in St. Louis. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, who met Judy Garland on the set, and later married her.

Sheet music for The Trolley Song

Sheet music for The Trolley Song


The Trolley Song was nominated for the Academy Award© for Best Original Song at the 1945 Academy Awards, but lost to Swinging On A Star from The Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald film, Going My Way.

Judy Garland debuted the song in the film as well as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, both of which became hits after the film was released. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, Meet Me in St. Louis tells the story of an American family living in St. Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair in 1904 and stars Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, June Lockhart, and Joan Carroll.

In the final scene of what is a summer vignette in the film, Esther (Judy Garland) joins an expectant crowd of young people (the ladies are sporting colorful flowery hats and shirt-waist dresses) that have gathered for a picnic to ride a trolley bound for the under-construction fairgrounds (the fair is still six months away). Esther is wearing a black outfit trimmed with white without a hat, nervously noticing and despairing that John Truett (Tom Drake), the boy-next-door whom she loves, has not arrived yet. As they begin to ride off – to the “clang, clang, clang” of the trolley bells, they all belt out The Trolley Song. Without singing, an anxious and tense Esther moves around the train amid the swirl of pastel colors and song, continuing to look for John. He is late as usual from basketball practice and must run after the trolley to catch it. She is relieved when he runs after the trolley, catches it and boards. She happily finishes the song on a high note, leading all of her friends in her musical tale of flirtation with a handsome man. It is an extravagant five-minute production number about a young woman in love with a guy who makes her heartstrings go zing, zing, zing and thump, thump, thump.

Judy Garland and Tom Drake in the Trolley Song scene from Meet Me in St. Louis

Judy Garland and Tom Drake in The Trolley Song scene from Meet Me in St. Louis


Here is how the song is developed in the film:
ALL
Clang ,clang, clang went the trolley
Ding, ding, ding went the bell
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings as we started for Huntington Dell.

Chug, chug, chug went the motor
Bump, bump, bump went the brake
Thump, thump, thump went my heartstrings as we glided for Huntington Lake.

The day was bright, the air was sweet
The smell of honeysuckle charmed me off my feet
I tried to sing, but couldn’t squeak
In fact I felt so good I couldn’t even speak

Buzz, buzz, buzz went the buzzer
Time to all disembark,
Time to fall went my heartstrings as we got off at Huntington Park
As we got off at Huntington Park.

ESTHER
With my high-starched collar, and my high-topped shoes
And my hair piled high upon my head
I went to lose a jolly hour on the Trolley
And lost my heart instead.

With his light brown derby and his bright green tie
He was quite the handsomest of men
I started to yen,
so I counted to ten, then I counted to ten again

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley
Ding, ding, ding went the bell
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings
From the moment I saw him I fell

Chug, chug, chug went the motor
Bump, bump, bump went the brake
Thump, thump, thump went my heartstrings
When he smiled I could feel the car shake

He tipped his hat, and took a seat
He said he hoped he hadn’t stepped upon my feet
He asked my name, I held my breath
I couldn’t speak because he scared me half to death

Chug, chug, chug went the motor
Plop, plop, plop went the wheels
Stop, stop, stop went my heartstrings
As he started to go then I started to know how it feels
When the universe reels

ALL
The day was bright, the air was sweet
The smell of honeysuckle charmed you off your feet
You tried to sing, but couldn’t squeaks
In fact, you loved him so you couldn’t even speak

ESTHER
Buzz, buzz, buzz went the buzzer
Plop, plop, plop went the wheels
Stop, stop, stop went my heartstrings

As he started to leave
I took hold of his sleeve with my hand
And as if it were planned he stay on with me
And it was grand just to stand with his hand holding mine
To the end of the line

Five versions of the song charted in 1944-45. Garland’s single and a version by Vaughn Monroe both peaked at number four, but the biggest hit version was by The Pied Pipers, which hit number two on Billboard magazine’s “Best Sellers in Stores” chart the week of December 16, 1944. Additionally, the Four King Sisters and Guy Lombardo recorded the song, each peaking on the Billboard charts at #13 and #19 respectively. Later non-charting versions of the song included Frank Sinatra, Dave Brubeck (1953), Herb Alpert (1967), and a Portuguese version of the song by João Gilberto (1970).

The Charted Versions
Pied Pipers, Paul Weston and his Orchestra The Trolley Song
Judy Garland, Georgie Stoll and his Chorus and Orchestra The Trolley Song
Four King Sisters, with Male Chorus The Trolley Song
Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra, vocals by Vaughn Monroe and Marilyn Duke The Trolley Song
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, vocals by Stuart Foster and the Lombardo Trio The Trolley Song

Non-charting Versions
Frank Sinatra The Trolley Song
Sarah Vaughan The Trolley Song
Dave Brubeck The Trolley Song
Herb Alpert The Trolley Song
João Gilberto The Trolley Song

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The “Iffy-ness” of a Love

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If I Loved You is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

The song was introduced in Carousel by John Raitt as “Billy Bigelow” and Jan Clayton as “Julie Jordan.” The song was performed in the 1956 Carousel (film) version by Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. Carousel was the second musical by the team of Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics). The 1945 work was adapted from Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom, transplanting its Budapest setting to the Maine coastline.

In the show, the characters of Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan sing this song as they hesitantly declare their love for one another, yet are too shy to express their true feelings.
If I loved you, time and again I would try to say
All I’d want you to know
If I loved you, words wouldn’t come in an easy way
`Round in circles I’d go
Longin’ to tell you but, afraid and shy,
I’d let my golden chances pass me by

Soon you’d leave me, off you would go in the mist of day
Never, never to know
How I love you, if I loved you

The song was inspired by lines of dialogue entirely drawn from Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom, the source material for the musical. The twelve-minute “bench scene,” as it is called, in which Billy and Julie get to know each other while sitting on a park bench and which culminates with the song, If I Loved You is considered to be one of the most completely integrated pieces of music-drama in the American musical theatre and probably the single most important moment in the evolution of contemporary musicals.
Here is the dialogue from Liliom upon which the song is based:
LILIOM
Do you love me?

JULIE
No, Mister Liliom.

LILIOM
Then why do you stay here with me?

JULIE

Um nothing. [There is a pause. The music from afar is plainly heard.]

LILIOM
Want to dance?

JULIE
No. I have to be very careful.

LILIOM
Of what?

JULIE
My character.

LILIOM
Why?

JULIE

Because I’m never going to marry. If I was going to marry, it would be different. Then I wouldn’t need to worry so much about my character. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re married. But I shan’t marry and that’s why I’ve got to take care to be a respectable girl.

LILIOM
Suppose I were to say to you I’ll marry you.

JULIE
You?

LILIOM

That frightens you, doesn’t it? You’re thinking of what the officer said and you’re afraid.

JULIE

No, I’m not, Mister Liliom. I don’t pay any attention to what he said.

LILIOM

But you wouldn’t dare to marry anyone like me, would you?

JULIE

I know that that if I loved anyone it wouldn’t make any difference to me what he even if I died for it.

LILIOM

But you wouldn’t marry a rough guy like me that is, eh if you loved me

JULIE

Yes, I would if I loved you, Mister Liliom. [There is a pause.]

LILIOM

[Whispers.] Well, you just said didn’t you that you don’t love me? Well, why don’t you go home then?

JULIE
It’s too late now, they’d all be asleep.

LILIOM
Locked out?

JULIE
Certainly.
[They are silent a while.]

LILIOM

I think that even a low-down good-for-nothing can make a man of himself.

JULIE

Certainly.
[They are silent again. A lamp- lighter crosses the stage, lights the lamp over the bench, and exits.]

LILIOM
Are you hungry?

JULIE
No. [Another pause.]

LILIOM

Suppose you had some money and I took it from you?

JULIE
Then you could take it, that’s all.

LILIOM

[After another brief silence.] All I have to do is go back to her that Muskat woman she’ll be glad to get me back then I’d be earning my wages again.
[Julie is silent. The twilight folds darker about them.]

JULIE

[Very softly.] Don’t go back to her [Pause.]

LILIOM

There are a lot of acacia trees ‘round here. [Pause.]

JULIE
Don’t go back to her [Pause.]

LILIOM

She’d take me back the minute I asked her. I know why she knows, too [Pause.]

JULIE

I can smell them, too acacia blossoms
[There is a pause. Some blossoms drift down from the tree-top to the bench. Liliom picks one up and smells it.]

LILIOM
White acacias!

JULIE

[After a brief pause.] The wind brings them down.
[They are silent. There is a long pause as before]

Except for the ending, the plots of Liliom and Carousel are very similar. Consider the plot lines of the two works.

In Molnár’s Liliom, Andreas Zavocky (nicknamed Liliom, the Hungarian word for “lily,” a slang term for “tough guy”), is a carnival barker who falls in love with Julie Zeller, a servant girl, and they begin living together. With both discharged from their jobs, Liliom is discontented and contemplates leaving Julie, but decides not to do so upon learning that she is pregnant. Desperate to make money so that he, Julie and their child can escape to America and a better life, Liliom conspires with a scoundrel named Ficsur to commit a robbery. The robbery goes badly, and during the crime, Liliom stabs himself. He dies, and his spirit is taken to heaven’s police court. As Ficsur told Liliom while the two waited to commit the crime, would-be robbers like the two of them do not come before the Highest Judge of All – God Himself. Liliom is told by the magistrate that he may go back to Earth for one day to attempt to redeem himself of the wrongs he has done to his family, but first he must spend sixteen years in a fiery purgatory.

On his return to Earth sixteen years later, Liliom encounters his daughter, Louise, who like her mother is now a factory worker. Saying that he knew her father, he tries to give her a star he stole from heaven. When Louise refuses to take it, he strikes her. Not realizing who he is, Julie confronts him, but finds herself unable to be angry with him. Liliom is ushered off to his fate – presumably Hell – and Louise asks her mother if it is possible to feel a hard slap as if it were a kiss. Julie reminiscently tells her daughter that it is very possible for that to happen.

The "Bench Scene" from Liliom, starring Madeleine Ozeray and Charles Boyer (France, 1934)

The “Bench Scene” from Liliom, starring Madeleine Ozeray and Charles Boyer (France, 1934)


In Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, the story revolves around carousel barker Billy Bigelow and millworker Julie Jordan. Two young female millworkers in 1873 Maine visit the town’s carousel after work. One of them, Julie Jordan, attracts the attention of the barker, Billy Bigelow. When Julie lets Billy put his arm around her during the ride, Mrs. Mullin, the widowed owner of the carousel, tells Julie never to return. Julie and her friend, Carrie Pipperidge, argue with Mrs. Mullin. Billy arrives and, seeing that Mrs. Mullin is jealous, mocks her; he is fired from his job. Billy, unconcerned, invites Julie to join him for a drink. As he goes to get his belongings, Carrie presses Julie about her feelings toward him, but Julie is evasive. Carrie has a beau too, fisherman Enoch Snow, to whom she is newly engaged. Billy returns for Julie as the departing Carrie warns that staying out late means the loss of Julie’s job. Mr. Bascombe, owner of the mill, happens by along with a policeman, and offers to escort Julie to her home, but she refuses and is fired. Left alone, she and Billy talk about what life might be like if they were in love, but neither quite confesses to the growing attraction they feel for each other. It is here that the song, If I Loved You is introduced.

A month later, the townsfolk are preparing for a summer clambake with Julie’s cousin Nettie Fowler. Julie and Billy are now married and live with Nettie, but Julie confides in Carrie that Billy has hit her, Carrie is more smitten with her love life, introducing Mister Snow to the girls. Billy is rude to both Enoch Snow and Carrie and goes off with the despicable Jigger Craigin, much to Julie’s dismay.

At the shipyard, Jigger and his shipmates sing about their life on the sea. He tries to recruit the unemployed Billy to assist with a robbery that he thinks will make them a lot of money. Billy is unsure as it may involve the killing of Julie’s ex-boss, Mr. Bascombe. Mrs Mullin reappears to tempt Billy back to the Carousel, but he turns her down. Julie tells him that she is pregnant and Billy is instantly happy. He contemplates life with his future son, er, or daughter, as the case may be. Everyone prepares to attend a clambake and Billy decides to join Julie, so he can carry out the robbery with Jigger.

At the clambake, Jigger makes an effort to be noticed ahead of the robbery and flirts with Carrie as Enoch finds them in a compromising position. The girls attempt to calm Carrie down and Julie gives them her philosophy on love. As the treasure hunt begins, Billy and Jigger return to shore to plan the robbery. They pass the time playing cards and staking a claim at the money they are about to steal. The robbery goes very wrong and Mr. Bascombe pulls out a gun to use on Jigger, who gets away. To escape punishment, Billy stabs himself just in time for Julie to enter and speak to him one final time. As everyone returns from the clambake, Julie is left alone with the dead Billy and Nettie Fowler helps her in her hour of need.

Billy is greeted by a Starkeeper who takes him to heaven. The Starkeeper tells Billy that he did not do enough good to get into heaven, but can still return to earth for one day to redeem himself. Fifteen years have passed in a flash and he tells Billy he should return to earth to help his daughter Louise. Looking down from “up there” Billy sees Louise alone on the beach, lonely and bitter, being taunted by the children of Carrie and Enoch. Billy steals a star before deciding to help her on earth.

Julie is visited by Carrie and her perfect family who tell her about their recent trip to New York. Their oldest son tries to flirt with Louise, but she is mean to him and he taunts her about her father. Louise is angry, and Billy lets himself be seen, startling her on her porch. He offers her the star, but loses his temper, slapping her after she refuses to take it. She runs to get her mother as Billy requests to be made invisible. Louise asks if it is possible to be hit and not feel a thing, and Julie tells her that it is.

At Louise’s graduation ceremony, the class is encouraged not to be held back by their parents or bask in their success, but instead to live for themselves. As the ensemble sings You’ll Never Walk Alone, Billy tells his daughter to believe in the words, and she reaches out to a classmate, determined not to live life as a loner. Billy tells Julie that he loves her and as they unite with a new power, Billy is granted access to heaven. The music then swells, we see “The End” flash on the screen, and we know that we have witnessed a beautiful love story with an almost happy ending.

The "Bench Scene" from Carousel, starring Jay Clayton and John Raitt (1945)

The “Bench Scene” from Carousel, starring Jan Clayton and John Raitt (1945)


Molnár’s ending was unsuitable for Rodgers and Hammerstein. After a couple of false starts, Hammerstein conceived the graduation scene that ends the musical. Rodgers explained his rationale for the changed ending, “Liliom was a tragedy about a man who cannot learn to live with other people. The way Molnár wrote it, the man ends up hitting his daughter and then having to go back to purgatory, leaving his daughter helpless and hopeless. We couldn’t accept that. The way we ended Carousel it may still be a tragedy but it’s a hopeful one because in the final scene it is clear that the child has at last learned how to express herself and communicate with others.” For those who needed a happier ending to the original Molnár play, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel filled the bill.

Of all the memorable songs from Carousel, only three made the Billboard charts: You’ll Never Walk Alone, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and If I Loved You.

Here are three versions of If I Loved You from the cast albums and the movie soundtrack:
First, the John Raitt and Jan Clayton version from the 1945 original cast album of Carousel; If I Loved You
second, the John Raitt and Eileen Christy interpretation of the song, an extended version from the 1965 Lincoln Center Production of Carousel; If I Loved You
and lastly, the Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones handling of the song, from the 1956 motion picture version of Carousel.If I Loved You

The song has been recorded by many artists, four of which charted on the Billboard charts.
Perry Como, Russ Case and his Orchestra (#3) If I Loved You
Frank Sinatra, Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra (#7) If I Loved You
Bing Crosby, John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra (#8) If I Loved You
Harry James and his Orchestra, vocals by Buddy DiVito (#8) If I Loved You

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

Richard Rodgers and
Oscar Hammerstein II

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