Bonus Post: Two Classics For My Dad… Happy 75th Birthday, Pops

My Dad is a great man.  He is a gentle, loving soul and has taught me the true value of being kind, having a sense of humor and working hard.    Being without a steady gig does not exactly jive with his teaching, but I am trying…

Today he turns 75.  Happy Birthday, bud.

According to Wikipedia nothing of historical significance happened on June 6, 1937.  I take umbrage with that.  Sure the world may not know my Dad by name, but they should know him by deed.  Being a kind, decent and good human being is about the highest thing one can aspire to… and certainly the main thing I want to instill in my daughter.

1937 did have a few musical events of note… On June 8, there was the Première of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in Frankfurt, Germany.  Hank Williams’ musical career begins in 1937, and so does the recording career of Sonny Boy Williamson.

The biggest hit songs that year were Count Basie’s “On O’Clock Jump”, Benny Goodman’s version of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”, Fred Astaire’s take of the Gershwins “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail”.

I think you know which one I would go with… and by they way, I might just go to the Crossroads and sell my soul for Game 4 tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals tonight… but… since this is for my Dad, it was really between two…

Benny Goodman (Louis Prima) – “Sing, Sing, Sing”

Listen to that drum… How delicious is that.  How primal!  That was part of Louis Prima’s genius.  His music starts pulsing in your chest and makes you move… And then those growling, prowling horns… and that sweet licorice stick… Man, this song still resonates!

Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” is a 1936 song, written by Louis Prima and first recorded by him with the New Orleans Gang and released in March 1936 as a 78 as Brunswick 7628 (with “It’s Been So Long” as the B side). It is strongly identified with the big band and swing eras. It was covered by Fletcher Henderson and most famously Benny Goodman. Originally entitled “Sing Bing Sing”, in reference to Bing Crosby, it was soon retitled for use in wider contexts. The song has since been covered by numerous artists. The original version of the song by Louis Prima includes lyrics, but, due to the better-known Benny Goodman version being instrumental (and including many musical flourishes in its arrangement), many assume the song was written as such.

“On July 6, 1937, “Sing, Sing, Sing” was recorded in Hollywood with Benny Goodman on clarinet; Harry James, Ziggy Elman, and Chris Griffin on trumpets; Red Ballard and Murray McEachern on trombones; Hymie Schertzer and George Koenig on alto saxophones; Art Rollini and Vido Musso on tenor saxophone; Jess Stacy on piano; Allan Reuss on guitar; Harry Goodman on bass; and Gene Krupa on drums. The song was arranged by Jimmy Mundy. Unlike most big band arrangements of that era, limited in length to three minutes so that they could be recorded on one side of a standard 10-inch 78-rpm record, Goodman band version was an extended work. The 1937 recording lasted 8 min 43 seconds, and took both sides of a 12-inch 78. At its longest, a live recording (with impromptu solos) was recorded and took 12 min 30 sec. Mundy’s arrangement incorporated “Christopher Columbus”, a piece written by Chu Berry for the Fletcher Henderson band, as well as Prima’s work.”

Benny Goodman is quoted as saying, “‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ (which we started doing back at the Palomar on our second trip there in 1936) was a big thing, and no one-nighter was complete without it”.  Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert was different from the commercial release and from subsequent performances with the Goodman band. The personnel of the Goodman band for the Carnegie Hall concert were the same as in the 1937 recording session, except Vernon Brown replaced Murray McEachern on trombone, and Babe Russin replaced Vido Musso on tenor sax.”

That is quite a list of musicians right there… so many stars in their own right.

Hey, it’s my Dad’s birthday, so he gets two songs!

Fred Astaire (George and Ira Gershwin) – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”

Yes, it is sadly true… They do not write songs like this any more…

They Can’t Take That Away from Me” is a 1937 song written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance.”

“The song is performed by Astaire on the foggy deck of the ferry from New Jersey to Manhattan. It is sung to Ginger Rogers, who remains silent listening throughout. No dance sequence follows, which was unusual for the Astaire-Rogers numbers. Astaire and Rogers did dance to it later in their last movie The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) in which they played a married couple with marital issues. The song, in the context of Shall We Dance, notes some of the things that Peter (Astaire) will miss about Linda (Rogers). The lyrics include “the way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea”, and “the way you hold your knife, the way we danced till three.” Each verse is followed by the line “no, no, they can’t take that away from me.” The basic meaning of the song is that even if the lovers part, though physically separated the memories cannot be forced from them. Thus it is a song of mixed joy and sadness.

The verse references the song “The Song is Ended (but the Melody Lingers On)” by Irving Berlin:

Our romance won’t end on a sorrowful note, though by tomorrow you’re gone. The song is ended, but as the songwriter wrote, ‘the melody lingers on.’ They may take you from me, I’ll miss your fond caress, but though they take you from me I’ll still possess….

George Gershwin died two months after the film’s release, and he was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 1937 Oscars.

The song is featured in Kenneth Branagh’s musical version of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000).”

I truly love listening to both of those tunes and it gives me such pleasure to know how they have endured and made a difference to so many generations.  That is the power of music… the power of love…

And so exemplifies the power of my Dad.  Happy Birthday!

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1 Comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

One response to “Bonus Post: Two Classics For My Dad… Happy 75th Birthday, Pops

  1. Best wishes to your father on his day.

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