64 FRIDAY 29 AUGUST 2014
I’m The Greatest Star – Barbra Streisand – Top Ten Contender
“Funny Girl” is the first movie I ever remember watching.
I didn’t become familiar with its soundtrack until many years later when Fernando, a friend back home, introduced me to it. Most of the songs on this show have been favourites of mine for years, and I’m sure, a few will sneak onto this list.
Although this version of I’m The Greatest Star comes from the film’s soundtrack, I’d like to tell you a little story regarding the Broadway Original Cast recording.
Sometime in 1999 or 2000, I saw a “Funny Girl” original record up for auction at Amazon.com. Do you remember when Amazon had an auction section? The seller described it as a unique item that included one ticket stub and autographs from Barbra Streisand and Sydney Chaplin. However, it was the ticket that called my attention. It was for the evening performance of June 17th, 1965, a Thursday evening, 10 days before the day I was born.
I put a bid with a maximum of $300 but got it for $150. When I received the record, the seller had typed on a piece of paper the story of how he got the record autographed. He waited at the stage door of the Winter Garden Theatre until the actors came out. He said Barbra was very nice, and they both had a little chat. I don’t think at the time she was as famous as she would become later on. Her first TV special, My Name is Barbra, had only aired two months before, and she wouldn’t star in the film version of “Funny Girl” for another three years.
Sadly, I lost the letter the seller kindly wrote and don’t remember his name. I never asked him why he was selling such unique item. However, I remember him telling me he was pleased to know the record was going to someone who had been born 10 days after he had met Barbra.
Song Title: I’m The Greatest Star – 1964 Artist: Barbra Streisand Genre: Musical Composer: Jule Styne Lyricist: Bob Merrill Album: Funny Girl-The Original Soundtrack Recording
Favourite Lyrics: Lookin’ down, you’ll never see me / Try the sky ’cause that’ll be me / I can make ’em cry, I can make ’em sigh / Someday, they’ll clamor for my drama.
Runners Up: Nowadays • The Hot Honey Rag • Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Reprise) • Sing! Sing! Sing! (Part 1) • Sing! Sing! Sing! (Part 2) • Les Uns Et Les Autres – Ballet Apocalypse • If A Girl Isn’t Pretty • I’m The Greatest Star • Cornet Man • I Want To Be Seen With You Tonight • Don’t Rain On My Parade • Sadie, Sadie • Who Are You Now? • The Music That Makes Me Dance • Don’t Rain On My Parade (Reprise) • Overture – Funny Girl • You Are Woman, I Am Man • Don’t Rain On My Parade • Funny Girl • Overture – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum • Comedy Tonight
65 SATURDAY 30 AUGUST 2014
Dime – Rubén Blades
Here’s something I’ve discovered while making this list. I love Rubén Blades. I grew up listening to his music. So, every time I hear one of his songs I get a nostalgic feeling. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the poetry in his compositions. The lyrics of Dime, in particular, are sad. They express the kind of sentiment you can only find in blues or boleros in Spanish. However, Blades can convey the same feeling and passion with a salsa beat.
Song Title: Dime – 1978 Artist: Rubén Blades Genre: Latin Composer: Rubén Blades Lyricist: Rubén Blades Album: Ganas
Favourite Lyrics: Esta pena de amor que por siempre me acompaña / Y que no me deja descansar / Es la tristeza azul que me dejó tu despedida / Y que no me deja ya soñar / Y que muerto en vida me va a dejar.
This heartache that always accompanies me / And that it doesn’t allow me to rest / It’s the blue sadness that your goodbye left in me / And that it doesn’t allow me to dream any more / And that like a living dead will leave me.
Runners Up: Lovely • Everybody Ought to Have a Maid • Impossible • Bye Bye Baby • A Little Girl from Little Rock • I Love What I’m Doing • I Love What I’m Doing (Dance)
66 SUNDAY 31 AUGUST 2014
Love Walked In – Virginia Verrill & Jon Hall
Have I told you about “The Return Of The Army of Light?” I don’t think so. It’s my first novel, which I e-published in 2013, more on that later.
There’s a scene in the novel where Lucas, the narrator, who’s trying to solve a mystery, goes to a gay men’s sauna looking for answers. When Lucas first steps in the place, all the gentlemen patrons stop for a moment to see who has come in, they check him out and then continue with whatever they were doing. Such scene was originally written as a scene in a play.
Under the name “Gay Urban Myths”, I had originally envisioned the story as a play with music. For that particular scene, I had imagined a group of men, different ages, races, and shapes, wearing white towels around the waists and slow dancing under a dimmed light to Love Walked In. The main actor would step in the scene; the men centre-stage would stop, look at him, and then continue their slow dance.
When you go to a gay sauna, you never know what you’re going to find. Anything can happen, you can meet the man of your dreams, the man you’ll have the best sex ever, or even the man who will become your partner. All this can happen quietly without speaking a single word. Some things are just destined to be told without words. That’s what I wanted to express through the use of the song, a group of men killing time, dancing with each other, waiting for their real love to walk through the sauna’s door.
That was one of the few parts originally planned for a play that made it into the book.
Song Title: Love Walked In – 1930/1937 * Artist: Virginia Verrill & Jon Hall Genre: Soundtrack Composer: George Gershwin Lyricist: Ira Gershwin Album: George And Ira Gershwin In Hollywood * Music composed in 1930, Lyrics in 1937
Favourite Lyrics: One magic moment and my heart seemed to know / That love said hello / Though not a word was spoken.
Runner Up: It’s Delightful Down In Chile • Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend • I’ve Got to Be There • I Can’t Be Bothered Now • They All Laughed • Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off • Strike Up The Band • Slap That Bass • Treat Me Rough • He Loves And She Loves • ‘s Wonderful • Delishious
67 MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2014
In Our United State – Bob Fosse
Yes, you read correctly, that’s the same Bob Fosse from “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” No, he wasn’t a singer, but when MGM was trying to make a star out of him, they gave him a feature role in a Marge and Gower Champion movie musical.
In Our United State is one of the cutest songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics, comparing elements of the United States government with the couple’s united state, are so playful that they stay with you the first time you listen to them. Add gorgeous arrangements, Fosse’s own choreography plus Debbie Reynolds’s charm, and you end up with one of the most inspiring, romantic and hopeful musical sequences from the MGM golden era.
Song Title: In Our United State – 1952 Artist: Bob Fosse Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Burton Lane Lyricist: Ira Gershwin Album: George And Ira Gershwin In Hollywood
Favourite Lyrics: We’ll have a white house, / Small but a bright house, / Built on the pursuit of star spangled happiness; / Hurry, let’s name the date, / Darling, for our united state!
Runners Up: A Damsel in Distress • Of Thee I Sing: Prelude • Can-Can: Overture • Delishious
68 TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2014
Who Cares? – Marueen McGovern, Larry Kert
“Of Thee I Sing” has the distinguished honour of being the first musical ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama. It relates the story of John P. Wintergreen, a bachelor running for President of the United States. During the campaign, it is decided to have a beauty pageant to choose a wife for Wintergreen. Although there’s a winner, Diana Devereaux, Wintergreen’s has fallen in love with Mary Turner and they both tie the knot on Inauguration Day. Jilted and humiliated, Diana Devereaux with the help of the French Ambassador and the press create a political scandal that threatens to bring Wintergreen’s presidency to an end.
Who Cares? features a group of reporters demanding answers from the President and his wife about the Devereaux affair. However, the Wintergreens refuse to talk about the situation. They re-affirm their love and commitment to each other and insist that’s all the press, and the American people should care about.
The first time I heard this song, as part of the book of the musical, I thought of the Clintons. I wondered if they took clues from the play when their scandals put them in front of the press and the nation. Bill was as charming and convincing as Wintergreen. However, Hilary was no Mary Turner. As we know by now, she had to shut up and stand by her man, nodding and looking at him adoringly and approvingly for two terms. I know, eight years can be a long time, but thankfully she regained her own voice eventually.
Often I wonder if people left the theatre in the 1930s shaking their heads convinced a situation like that could never happen in the United States. The media pundits knew boundaries and respected privacy, and they would certainly never ask such questions to the president. I guess that’s what made it funny back then. The show was definitely ahead of its time.
I think we need to see a revival of this musical on Broadway pronto!
Song Title: Who Cares? – 1931 Artist: Marueen McGovern & Larry Kert Genre: Musical Composer: George Gershwin Lyricist: Ira Gershwin Album: Gershwin: Of Thee I Sing / Let ‘Em Eat Cake (1987 Studio Cast Recording)
Favourite Lyrics: Here’s the one thing that the people of America / Are beside themselves to know: / They would like to know what’s doing / On the lady who is suing / You – Diana Devereaux!.
Runners Up: Swing Time: I. Main Title and Pickup Yourself Up • Swing Time: II. The Way You Look Tonight • Show Boat: Overture • But Not For Me/Love Is Here To Stay/Embraceable You • Someone To Watch Over Me • Fascinating Rhythm • Nice Work If You Can Get It/They Can’t Take That Away From Me/’S Wonderful/Swanee/Strick Up The Band • Of Thee I Sing: Overture • Of Thee I Sing: Love Is Sweeping the Country • Of Thee I Sing: Of Thee I Sing • Garota de Ipanema • Miranda
69 WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2014
The Varsity Drag – Ann Morrison – Top 10 Fast-Tracked – 3rd Place Finish
I can’t explain my fascination with this ditty. We’ve already talked about it, I chose a Mambo version earlier on. (See Week 02, on 6 July) I just love it and there’s no point trying to explain why, I can’t find a logical reason, it is just a matter of taste.
It is a coincidence that two of the songs that inspired me to write chapters on my novel have shown up on the list during the same week. (“The Return of The Army of Light”, I mentioned it when we talked about “Love Walked In”.) I’ve decided to share with you an excerpt of the novel where The Varsity Drag dictates the dynamic between two characters. Just as it happened with “Love Walked In”, most of the scene was originally thought of as a part of a play with music. Check it out here: The Return Of The Army of Light – Excerpt
Song Title: The Varsity Drag – 1927 Artist: Ann MorrisonGenre: Musical
Composer: Ray HendersonLyricists: B.G. DeSylva & Lew Brown
Album: Good News! (Original Cast / The Music Theatre of Wichita)
Favourite Lyrics: You can pass / Many a class / Whether you’re dumb or wise / If you all answer the call / When your professor cries / Everybody! / Down on your heels / Up on your toes / Stay after school / Learn how it goes / Everybody do the varsity drag!
Runners Up: Las Palmas De Maracaibo • Venezuela • Running Wild • The Varsity Drag • Button Up Your Overcoat • The Best Things In Life Are Free • You’re the Cream In My Coffee • Keep Your Sunny Side Up • Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries • Murphy’s Chase • The grand parade; some have, some have not; As it should be • At the grand hotel; Table with a view • Maybe my baby loves me • I want to go to Hollywood • Who couldn’t dance with you? • Love can’t happen • Bonjour amour • H-A-P-P-Y; We’ll take a glass together • Love can’t happen • Gravity • Do Do Do
70 THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 2014
Porgy, I Is Your Woman Now – Nina Simone
I believe this is the only Nina Simone recording I have in my iTunes library, and it is a recent acquisition. I have no idea why I don’t have more of her music. This rendition of Porgy, I Is Your Woman Now floored me when I first heard it. Her delivery is so soulful. Recently I found out that this interpretation landed her in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
She may end up being the only artist who’s made it to this list with only one song to her name among all the 7000 songs I have in my iTunes Library.
Song Title: Porgy, I Is Your Woman Now – 1935 Artist: Nina Simone Genre: Musical Composer: Gerorge Gershwin Lyricist: Ira Gershwin Album: The Great Lyricists – Ira Gershwin
Favourite Lyrics: Porgy, I’s yo’ woman now! / I’s yours forever – / Mornin’ time an’ evenin’ time an’ / summer time an’ winter time.
Runners Up: Back to Black • Young and Beautiful • Bang Bang • Love Walked In • Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off • Who Cares? • My One And Only • ‘S Wonderful / They Can’t Take That Away From Me • Things Are Looking Up