15 FRIDAY 11 JULY 2014
Cuban Pete – Desi Arnaz
I know you must be wondering why this one moved to the list so soon after only being on the runners up list for a few days. Well, it’s not the same version. Desi Arnaz recorded this one in 1946. The one on the runners-up list is the version Desi recorded with Lucille Ball for their 1950s mega-hit “I Love Lucy.”
Introduced by Desi himself in 1946 in the movie of the same name, Cuban Pete, along with Babalu, is closely associated with of Desi Arnaz’s act.
Before moving to the United States, I only knew of Desi as the one who loved Lucy. But I made a point of studying him during my master’s program and was impressed by all of his accomplishments in Television. As some of you may be aware, Desi was a pioneer not only in television production but also in the way networks do business and distribute their shows. How many Trekkies out there? Without Desilu Productions, the company he founded with Lucille Ball, nobody would have gone where no man had gone before. Desilu produced the first year of Star Trek before Paramount Television absorbed the studio. Just saying.
Song Title: Cuban Pete – 1946 Genre: Soundtrack Artist: Desi Arnaz Composer: Joseph Norman (Jose Norman) Lyricist: Joseph Norman (Jose Norman) Album: The Best Of Desi Arnaz The Mambo King
Favourite Lyrics: Si, senorita, I know that you will like the chicky boom chick / ‘Cause it’s the dance of Latin romance / And Cuban Pete doesn’t teach you in a hurry like Arthur Murry / You’re now in Havana and there’s always mañana.
Runners Up: Long Ago and Far Away • I’ve Never Been in Love Before • Vida Mia • Where or When • All the Things You Are
16 SATURDAY 12 JULY 2014
That Old Black Magic – Frank Sinatra
I could have used some old black magic today to find a song to put on the list. I had a very hard time listening to Frank Sinatra today, so hard that for a moment, I wondered if Sinatra might have been a tad over-rated. What did I find in his music when I was 17 that made me an instant fan? The more I listened to his music today the more disappointed I became. I mean, if you buy a CD collection set that claims to be the best between 1943-1952, you expect at the very least to be mildly entertained.
I did a little research, and as it turns out, the 1940s were not Sinatra’s best years. It wasn’t until the 1950s when his popularity resurged. I concluded then that the best of the Columbia years was not necessarily the best of Sinatra. That was a relief, I knew he was good.
I picked That Old Black Magic because of the song itself, not necessarily because of Sinatra’s rendition.
Song Title: That Old Black Magic – 1942 Genre: Pop Artist: Frank Sinatra Composer: Harold Arlen Lyrics: Johnny Mercer Album: The Best Of The Columbia Years 1943-1952
Favourite Lyrics: And down and down I go, round and round I go.
17 SUNDAY 13 JULY 2014
You Do Something To Me – Frank Sinatra
Another Cole Porter’s song.
I first heard this song back in 1992 or 93, although it was a jazzier version also by Sinatra. The lyrics were so simple that I learned them quickly and found myself humming the song a lot. I used to have a Discman, remember those? I bought one in 1992. I remember I would listen to that Sinatra version quite often, or at least for the period of time the four AA rechargeable batteries on the player lasted.
Anyway, it was while hearing You Do Something To Me that I came up with my first story. You see, for years, I’ve used music as an inspiration to write short stories, scripts, and novels. Well, not quite “write”, as in sitting down to type, print and put out there. I mostly think of ideas, develop the stories in my head, live with them for a year or so, and then archive them in the back of my head.
You Do Something to Me inspired “Play it for Jenny”. If you wish you can read all about it here: Play It For Jenny
The original intention was to write a screenplay, but I only wrote a page or two. As years went by, I started to see the story as a look back at the American society in the last decade of the 20th century. That’s why the story takes place between 1992 and 1993. Right at the dawn of the era in US history that started when Bill Clinton won the election in 1992 and ended less than 10 years later on September 11th, 2001.
Song Title: You Do Something To Me – 1929 Genre: Musical Artist: Frank Sinatra Composer: Cole Porter Lyricist: Cole Porter Album: The Best Of The Columbia Years 1943-1952
Favourite Lyrics: Do do that voodoo that you do so well.
Runners Up: There’s No Business Like Show Business • The Song is You • What’ll I Do? • Nature Boy • Lover
18 MONDAY 14 JULY 2014
I Could Write A Book – Frank Sinatra
If you have to be stuck hearing to Sinatra’s lacklustre era, this is a good one to listen to. One of the standards to come out from 1940’s Pal Joey, I Could Write A Book has been recorded by the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé.
The last line has always intrigued me, “how to make two lovers of friends.” I’ve only experienced it once, and as sweet, rewarding, and romantic as it was, it didn’t give me the fairy tale ending I thought I’d get.
Song Title: I Could Write A Book – 1940 Genre: Musical Artist: Frank Sinatra Composer: Richard Rodgers Lyrics: Lorenz Hart Album: The Best Of The Columbia Years 1943-1952
Favourite Lyrics: Then the world discovers; / As my book ends; / how to make two lovers of friends.
19 TUESDAY 15 JULY 2014
Bye Bye Blackbird – Rod Stewart – Top 10 Contender
It doesn’t matter who sings it or how they sing it, this must be one of the coolest songs ever written in the English language. From Gene Austin’s 1926 version to Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart and more recently Paul McCartney, I haven’t heard a cut of Bye Bye Blackbird that I haven’t liked.
For years, I had no idea what the meaning of the song was. Whatever it was, I gathered that it was a song about changes, about going back to a safer place. However, I also thought there were traces of melancholy and sadness, it was almost a quiet acceptance with an unsure feeling about the new situation.
While researching for this list, I found that there were some lost verses that in a way have given new meaning to the song. A few experts have agreed that the song may be about a prostitute going back home for good, where there’s sunshine galore. Whatever the meaning is, I think this is one of the most beautiful songs to come out of the jazz era in the 1920s.
This song will be the first to be included in a separate list of contenders for my top 10 songs of all time.
Song Title: Bye Bye Blackbird – 1926 Genre: Pop Artist: Rod Stewart Composer: Ray Henderson Lyricist: Mort Dixon Album: The Best of… The Great American Songbook
Favourite Lyric: Make my bed and light the light, / I’ll arrive late tonight, / Blackbird, bye, bye.
Runners Up: There’s a Small Hotel • Something’s Gotta Give • They Can’t Take that Away from Me • Long Ago and Far Away • I Can’t Get Started • The Way You Look Tonight • Jubilee • Hello, Hello
20 WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 2014
(The) Japanese Sandman – Vince Giordano And The Nighthawks
Do you know how after you hear a word you never knew existed you start hearing it all the time? Something similar happened with (The) Japanese Sandman. I just have no idea why I had never paid attention to this song until winter 2013. After all, it had been used in one of my favourite movies, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”
It took the music of Boardwalk Empire, the TV show, for me to get familiar with this evocative and enchanting piece of music. However, only the instrumental version touches me, every time I hear it I get a visceral reaction, I can feel my spirit soaring inside, wanting to take fly. I don’t get the same reaction with the sung version.
Song Title: (The) Japanese Sandman – 1920 Genre: Pop Artist: Vince Giordano And The Nighthawks Composer: Richard A. Whiting Lyricist: Raymond B. Egan Album: Boardwalk Empire, Vol. 1 (Music from the HBO® Original Series)
Runners Up: After You Get What You Want (You Don’t Want It) • Sheik of Araby • Maple Leaf Rag
21 THURSDAY 17 JULY 2014
Cut, Print… Moving On – Katharine McPhee
This one comes from “Smash”, the TV show that sprung the phrase hate-watching. Save for the score, composed by Broadway veterans Shaiman and Wittman, and the performances by Megan Hilty and Christian Borle; this behind the scenes at the making of a Broadway musical was bad with capital B-A-D. Although the pilot was highly rated by critics, by the time the second show hit the airwaves it lacked the energy, innovation and promise that the series had shown in its first episode. And yet, I loved the show. I never missed an episode. The “Bombshell” score was what I loved the most. “Bombshell” was the name of the fictional musical about Marilyn Monroe that Anjelica Huston’s character is trying to bring to the Great White Way.
Although many of the numbers from the fictional show will make it eventually on to this list, I decided to include Cut, Print… Moving On first because I find the contagious self-determination of Marilyn to be quite inspirational. The past is done, there’s a new beginning. She tells us to re-load up the camera and start filming a new undetermined chapter. The excitement of the unknown convinces us that the next best thing is just around the corner. Just let go of the past and move on.
Song Title: Cut, Print… Moving On – 2013 Artist: Katharine McPhee Composer: Marc Shaiman Lyricists: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman Album: Bombshell (Music from the TV Series “SMASH”)
Favourite Lyrics: Get up cause the rat-race never ends / Cause life is a marathon / And I plan to run so much more than a sprint / What’s next? Well I can’t even give you a hint / But boys that’s a wrap. So cut, print / Moving on!
Runners Up: Oh! Gee, Oh! Gosh, Oh! Golly I’m In Love • Somos Novios (It’s Impossible) • Nosotros / Perfidia • Esta Tarde VI Llover (Yesterday I Heard The Rain) • Let Me Be Your Star • Second Hand White Baby Grand • They Just Keep Moving the Line • Let’s Be Bad • Hang the MoonDon’t Forget Me