57 FRIDAY 22 AUGUST 2014
The Grotto (Get Out of Town/My Heart Belongs to Daddy/Just One of Those Things) – Orchestra
Allow me to remind you that one of the reasons I’m making this list is to include songs that have touched me during the first 50 years of my life. So, there’s a story behind every song I pick. Bear with me as I tell you another story from my younger years.
For many years in the 1980s and early 1990s, my father owned a video store in a mini-mall near our house. “Galeria Electronica” started selling small household appliances and audio equipment, maybe TV sets? I can’t remember well, but within a year, it became a bookstore/video store business. I used to work there occasionally, on weekends or whenever I was on university holidays. I can’t remember much of the day-to-day operation, or what I did exactly, but I remember I used to watch many of the movies we traded. Yes, traded.
I’m sure many of you still remember how people used to trade rather than rent movies in the first years of the video rental business. Say, clients would bring three films and exchange them for another three titles, No questions asked. Probably in 1983 or 1984, the film studios started distributing their own tapes for rental purposes, and the video trading business ceased to exist.
In 1986, I believe, we got two or three Agatha Christie’s film adaptations and among them, “Evil Under The Sun.” This 1982 film, starring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg, and James Mason, among others, featured a score by Cole Porter, masterfully arranged by John Lanchberry. The combination of talent, the beautiful landscapes of Majorca, Spain, and gorgeous period costumes, made a very entertaining movie. Stream it if you haven’t watched it, it is a visual feast. Also, if you haven’t watched it (or read the novel) skip the rest of my story as I’ll mention who the murderer turns out to be.
A glamorous actress played deliciously by Diana Rigg, is murdered while on holiday in an exclusive boutique hotel in the Mediterranean. As in any murder mystery, all the suspects are summoned, in this case, to the lounge to uncover the murderer. Hercule Poirot, the detective, reveals not one, but two killers, a gallant young man, and his plain wife. However, Poirot doesn’t have any evidence linking the Redferns to the actual murder.
As the couple prepares to leave… Actually, I’ll try to show you what I think the script for that scene might have looked like.
INT. HOTEL LOBBY. DAY
SIX BELLBOYS CARRY TRUNKS AND SUITCASES DOWN THE STAIRCASE. POIROT ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE GUESTS WAIT IMPOTENT AND SOMEHOW RESIGNED, FOR THE REDFERNS TO LEAVE.
AS THE MUSIC BUILDS UP, GUESTS GATHER AROUND THE STAIRCASE LANDING. A WOMAN APPEARS WEARING A WHITE TAILOR SUIT AND A BLACK AND WHITE WIDE-BRIMMED HAT, COVERING HALF HER FACE.
THE MUSIC REACHES ITS PEAK. THE WOMAN TILTS UP HER HEAD TO REVEAL HER FACE. IT IS CHRISTINE REDFERN WHO HAS TRANSFORMED INTO A GLAMOROUS WOMAN.
WE SEE THE GUESTS REACT IN DISBELIEF. THIS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE THE SAME MOUSY HOUSEWIFE THEY’VE MET DURING THE LAST FEW DAYS.
CHRISTINE PAUSES FOR EFFECT, LOOKS AT THEM, FLASHES A SMALL SMILE, AND CONTINUES DOWN THE STAIRCASE. HER HUSBAND FOLLOWS CLOSE BEHIND. CAMERA PULLS BACK.
The scene continues with Poirot finally being able to prove the Redferns’ culpability.
The Grotto, a combination of three of Cole Porter’s songs, (Get Out of Town/My Heart Belongs to Daddy/Just One of Those Things) drives the entire scene brilliantly.
At that moment, I realised how filmmaking is a collaboration of different crafts, and that you don’t necessarily need words to convey a message. All you need is a precise and deliberate combination of talent, costumes, camera angles, editing, direction, and music. I’ve never worked on drama, but as an editor, when I do montages I like to use a kind of music that will allow me to have one of those gasping revealing moments.
I have given John Lanchberry credit on this list for his masterful arrangements of the Cole Porter’s standards. It is perhaps the best use of pre-existing music as a narrative tool that I have ever seen in any movie.
Song Title: The Grotto (“Get Out of Town” – 1938/ “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”-1938 / “Just One of Those Things”– 1935) Artist: Orchestra Composer: Cole Porter Arranger: John Lanchberry Album: Evil Under the Sun (Music from the Original Soundtrack)
Runners Up: The Dance Sequence • Daphne’s Office • Check Out • Hotel Exterior • La Bikina • Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado • Si Dios Me Quita La Vida • Besame Mucho • Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World • Another Curtain Goes Up • Big T*****s • Would You Like to Star In Our Show? • Oh Que Sera • Amor Verdadero • On a Wonderful Day Like Today
58 SATURDAY 23 AUGUST 2014
Now You Know – Craig Rubano with Marsh Hanson – Top 10 Contender
Now You Know, from the show that eventually became my favourite Sondheim’s musical, came at a very opportune moment in my life. However, before I elaborate on that, allow me to tell you about my relationship with Sondheim. I only came to appreciate his work after I turned 40, and the older I get, the more I can relate to the wisdom of his work. Sure, I’d known about him for years before that, but I never really got him.
Almost ten years ago I got Craig Rubano’s “Finishing The Act” from Amazon. I’m not sure why I got it. After all, I wasn’t familiar with Rubano’s work. I guess the concept of having a group of songs from shows’ Act I finales caught my attention. Now You Know, from “Merrily We Roll Along” was part of the CD. I didn’t like it instantly, though. Almost a year had gone by before it served a purpose.
A Few songs back I told you about the playlist I created during a hard breakup, remember? (1/8/2014 Sing Happy).Well, among the long list of songs was Now You Now. When I look back, the song represented the start of a new way of seeing things in life and in a way, it became my mantra for a while. I began to see things differently. I needed a major re-adjustment of all the things I believed in. It was as if the last vestige of having been 25, full of irrelevant opinions and a distorted perception of my contributions to humanity, was finally subsiding. A new and more realistic appreciation of myself was emerging; I believe I became more practical, a little bit more cynical, quite reserve, and hopeless to a degree.
Now You Now also represented my introduction to Merrily We Roll Along, which although it has not been as successful as other Sondheim shows, it remains my favourite.
Song Title: Now You Know – 1981 Artist: Craig Rubano with Marsh Hanson Composer: Stephen Sondheim Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Finishing The Act
Favourite Lyrics: It’s called flowers wilt, It’s called apples rot, / It’s called theives get rich and saints get shot, / It’s called God don’t answer prayers a lot, / Okay, now you know.
Runners Up: The Impossible Dream • Sunday • Lullaby Of Birdland
59 SUNDAY 24 AUGUST 2014
Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald
Blue Skies was part of the Irving Berlin Compilation CD I bought back in 1990, which also included one of the previous songs on the list. (4/7/2014 – I Got The Sun In The Morning ).
It is such a happy and optimistic song that I thought, oh what the heck! This will be my song of the day. I love Ella Fitzgerald, her studio recordings, though. Her live performances, not so much, I think she’s kind of creepy when she jams.
Song Title: Blue Skies – 1926 Artist: Ella Fitzgerald Genre: Musical Composer: Irving Berlin Lyricist: Irving Berlin Album: First Lady Of Song
Favourite Lyrics: Never saw the sun shining so bright / Never saw things going so right / Noticing the days hurrying by / When you’re in love, my how they fly.
Runners Up: Air Mail Special • I Won’t Dance
60 MONDAY 25 AUGUST 2014
Not Every Day of the Week (reprise) – Peter Frechette, Veanne Cox
I only discovered “Flora The Red Menace” two years ago. Obviously, I knew it was Liza’s first Broadway show and that she had won a Tony for it. I was also familiar with two of its songs: “A Quiet Thing” and “Sing Happy”, but I had never heard the full score.
I’m not sure why I bought the Broadway CD with Liza, but I like it so much that I bought a few of the show’s songs from a 1980s off-Broadway production. Not Every Day Of The Week, especially the reprise, became an instant favourite. The sweet lyrics by Fred Ebb, the simple piano arrangement, and the awkwardness, hopefulness and eagerness of the young couple makes me wish I could be a young lovebird again.
Song Title: Not Every Day of the Week (reprise) – 1965 Artist: Peter Frechette & Veanne Cox Genre: Musical Composer: John Kander Lyricist: Fred Ebb Album: Flora the Red Menace (Original Off Broadway Cast)
Favourite Lyrics: How should two people react? / When faced with the fabulous fact. / They must make the most of the moment that’s here.
Runners Up: Mack The Knife • How High The Moon? • A Fine Romance • Something’s Gotta Give • Overture – Flora the Red Menace • All I Need (Is One Good Break) • Not Every Day of the Week
61 TUESDAY 26 AUGUST 2014
Prologue – Follies – Orchestra – Featuring Bernadette Peters
Another Sondheim show that I didn’t discover until three years ago when I bought the CD of the 2011 Broadway Revival. The only song I knew from the show was “I’m Still Here”, which has been sung by every woman over 60 who has ever had a cabaret act.
There’s something so magical about the orchestrations of this show that the first time I heard the Prologue I was instantly transferred to 1971.
I remember 1971; I would say that’s the year that most of my first memories cemented in my head. As every child’s memories, they tend to be idealised and a bit larger than life. So it was easy for me to imagine the last reunion of the former performers of the Weismann’s Follies before it’s demolished.
I could also identify with the play’s main characters, which have come to the reunion to look back at the events and decisions they made when they were young, and how they’ve played out. I believe there is always that moment when you’re forced to come face to face with your past. This happens not by choice, but by need; the need to understand, acknowledge, rectify, and move on.
There’s a line towards the end where Sally tells her husband: “I’m 49 years old, that’s all I am”. The line shook me to the core; it almost brought me to tears. It was a sudden realisation that I needed to start looking ahead to the future. What I had and what I’d lost. Had my fail investments put in danger the possibility of a quiet retirement? How much more work and investments did I need to keep me going? And those were questions on a personal level. At some point, I also had to take a look at my finances.
This is one of the few CDs that I had to play in its entirety, from start to end; I rarely hear individual pieces. The entire musical plays in my head every time I listened to it. I follow a different character each time. With a few changes to the story, this could be a very good movie musical, not great, but good enough for musical lovers to enjoy. If any studio executive is out there trying to find a way to bring this gem onto the screen, please contact me I have some ideas.
Song Title: Prologue – Follies – 1971 Artist: Orchestra – Featuring Bernadette Peters Genre: Musical Composer: Stephen Sondheim Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Follies (New Broadway Cast Recording)
Runners Up: A Quiet Thing • Hello, Waves • Knock Knock • Sing Happy • Welcome to Our First – and Last – Reunion • Beautiful Girls • Who’s That Woman? • I’m Still Here • Could I Leave You? • You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow / Love Will See Us Through • Live, Laugh, Love • Who’s That Woman?
62 WEDNESDAY 27 AUGUST 2014
Stuff Like That There – Bette Midler
God bless Bette Midler! The woman can take a song and make it sound as if it was written just for her. Case in point, Stuff Like That There.
For years, I thought the song was written especially for the movie “For The Boys”, but it turns out Betty Hutton first performed it in the 1940s. I wonder why this effervescent ditty didn’t become a standard right away and was recorded by other singers. A quick search on iTunes throws no big names other than Middler and Hutton. If anybody knows why this song didn’t become more popular, please share your knowledge.
Song Title: Stuff Like That There – 1944 Artist: Bette Midler Genre: Pop Composer: Jay Livingston Lyricist: Ray Evans Album: For the Boys (Soundtrack)
Favourite Lyrics: I want some huggin’ and some squeezin’ / and some muggin’ and some teasin’ / and some leapin’ and some chasin’ / and some weepin’ and some pacin’ / and some stuff, / I want some stuff like that there.
63 THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 2014
Silky Thoughts/Cool Hand Luke – Orchestra
I like this piece for its elegance. It comes from “Fosse”, a musical revue of Bob Fosse’s work that played on Broadway at the end of the twentieth century.
Silky Thoughts was composed by Patrick S. Brady, “Fosse’s” musical director. In the show, it works as a transitional movement between “The Rich Man’s Frug” and Cool Hand Luke, the title theme of the movie of the same name, which was composed by Lalo Schifrin.
Cool Hand Luke was originally staged by Fosse for his wife Gwen Verdon for a Bob Hope TV Special. It was subsequently restaged by Ann Reinking and Chet Walker for the Broadway revue.
Every time I hear it, I think of 1999. In a way, it became my transition theme into the new millennium.
Song Title: Silky Thoughts/Cool Hand Luke – 1999 – 1967 Artist: Orchestra
Composer: Patrick S. Brady (Silky Thoughts) Genre: Musical/Soundtrack Composer: Lalo Schifrin (Cool Hand Luke) Album: Fosse
Runners Up: Mandy & Patti • Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries • Fosse’s World Medley: Calypso/Snake In The Grass • Bye Bye Blackbird • I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man • Steam Heat