71 FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2014
Easy to Love – Lee Wiley with Paul Weston & His Orchestra – Top 10 Contender
I’m definitely feeling the love for Cole Porter.
I first heard Easy To Love in 1991; it was a version by Sinatra, which I instantly liked. Since then I’ve acquired different versions by different performers. As a young man, I thought of it as the epitome of being in love and planning a perfect future with a chosen one.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate it under a very different light. It is not about being in love, the singer is not in love yet. It is about the business of falling in love, and how it is not as random and magical as Hollywood and Hallmark have led us to believe.
I have a friend who once told me her mother told her she wasn’t in love when she married, eventually she grew in love with my friend’s father. She married him because he offered a good proposition. It was a good deal, and she agreed to marry him. It is not as she was older or wiser, she was only 18, and yet she knew she had to think in terms of a long-term investment in a relationship. Love was a profit, not a requirement for the initial investment.
So, if you pay attention to the lyrics you’ll see how it only talks about domestic, mundane things. (So swell to keep every home fire burning for. So nice to sit down to eggs & bacon with). This is a strictly business proposition, only softened by the possibility of love at the end.
Song Title: Easy to Love – 1936 Artist: Lee Wiley with Paul Weston & His Orchestra Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Cole Porter Lyricist: Cole Porter Album: Greatest Hits
Favourite Lyrics: We’d be so grand at the game / So carefree together / That it does seem a shame / That you can’t see your future in me / ‘Casue you’d be oh, so easy to love.
Runners Up: A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) • Kill and Run • The Japanese Sandman • Grin and Bear It • Overture / Runyonland • Fugue For TinhornsThe Oldest Established
72 SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2014
If I Were A Bell – Ernestine Jackson
Through the years, I’ve had many recordings of “Guys and Dolls.” My favourite is the one from 1976. It is in full disco style. I just love the beat of the disco era, after all, I’m a 1970s kid. If I Were A Bell has a big band arrangement that remains me of TV variety shows from that era.
Song Title: If I Were A Bell – 1950 Artist: Ernestine Jackson Genre: Musical Composer: Frank Loesser Lyricist: Frank Loesser Album: Guys & Dolls (1976 Broadway Revival)
Favourite Lyrics: Well sir, all I can say is if I were a bridge I’d be burning! / Yes, I knew my moral would crack / From the wonderful way that you looked
Runners Up: Runyonland • Fugue for Tinhorns • Guys and Dolls • Havana • More I Cannot Wish You • Luck Be A Lady • The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game in New York • Pet Me Poppa • Guys and Dolls
73 SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2014
Dance Sequence – A Woman in Love – Renee Renoir, Ruben De Fuentes
I believe we tend to romanticise the times in which we grew up, but we glamorise the era in which our parents lived.
My father left a small town in the Venezuelan Andes and moved to Maracaibo when he was a teenager in the 1940s. After a series of jobs, a marriage and two children, he ended up working as a salesman in the same place where my mother had been a secretary since she was 14. No, I don’t think it was love at first sight or anything like that. After all, my father was a married man and my mother, being the good Catholic woman she’s always been, wouldn’t dare see him in that way. I’m pretty sure they fancied each, though. How could they not? They were both lookers.
My father was tall, gallant, with pearly whites and great hair. My mother was a petite brunet with a tiny waist, ample hips, and thick wavy black hair
It wasn’t until my father’s marriage to his first wife ended that he asked my grandfather if he could visit my mother. Soon after that, he asked for her hand in marriage and a few months later, in June 1958, they had a civil union.
The same day they married they boarded a Pan Am Clipper to Mexico, with a layover in Panama City for one night. Once in Mexico, they visited different regions of the country and after 21 days they returned to Maracaibo, where they’ve been living for over 55 years.
When I was growing up my siblings and I would occasionally go through a box of old pictures, my mother kept on the top shelf of her closet. Some of the pictures are still very vivid in my mind. There’s one of my father sitting at his desk flashing a smile, another of my mother posing next to a tree. There was also an 8×10 of the two posing for the camera on their wedding day, ready to go to the airport. My father wore a linen suit, white shirt, and small bow tie; my mother had a tailored suit, white gloves, and a hat with a little veil. They just look so swellegant, just like Maracaibo’s own version of Bogart and Bacall. What I love about those pictures is the impeccable art direction, even if it was a casual shot, whoever took the picture made sure that every single detail was in order. Unlike today, in those days taking pictures was an event, it just didn’t happen every day.
Between flipping through black and white pictures of my parents, and the stories my parents shared, I came to see the 1950s as the most glamorous era in the history of the world. Anyone who lived through it, I think, is very fortunate.
There’s no time I hear to this dance sequence of A Woman In Love that I don’t think of my parents and see flashes of those black and white pictures in my mind. It epitomises the sound and art direction of the 1950s.
Song Title: Dance Sequence – A Woman in Love – 1955 Artist: Renee Renoir, Ruben De Fuentes Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Frank Loesser Lyricist: Frank Loesser Album: Guys and Dolls (1955 Film Score)
Favourite Lyrics: Hay en tu mirar / Cierta luz del amor / Y brillara para mi tu mirar / Y brillara para mi tu mirar
Those eyes are the eyes / Of a woman in love / And may they gaze / Evermore into mine.
Runners Up: A Woman in Love • Guys and Dolls- Finale • Pet Me Poppa • A Woman In Love
74 MONDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 2014
You Gotta Have A Gimmick – Faith Dane, Betty Bruce & Roxanne Arlen
Such a silly and fun song, how can I not enter it on the list? I’m including the one from the movie because that’s where I first heard it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I understood all the nuances of the lyrics. It is so much fun to see these types of characters in a movie musical, they’re not only funny but also help move the story forward.
Song Title: You Gotta Have A Gimmick – 1959 Artist: Faith Dane, Betty Bruce & Roxanne Arlen Genre: Musical Composer: Jule Styne Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Gypsy (1962)
Favourite Lyrics: If you wanna make it / Twinkle while you shake it / If you wanna grind it / Wait till you refined it / If you wanna pump it / Pump it with a trumpet / Get yourself a gimmick / And you too can be a star
Runners Up: Together, Wherever We GoRose’s TurnEnd Credits
75 TUESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2014
Everything’s Coming Up Roses – Ethel Merman
We all need a Merman moment in our life, do you know what I mean? That moment when we are all down and mopey when we lack the motivation to start new endeavours, or as a professor of mine used to say, when our “catecholamine levels are low”. It is in moments like that when I wish Ethel materialised and set me straight on the right path.
For those unfamiliar with Gypsy, it is a musical inspired by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, an American burlesque entertainer, or an ecdysiast to use her word. It is perhaps the best American musical from the 1950s. Although the book is centred on Gypsy Rose Lee’s life, Broadway creatives saw more potential for a musical focused on her mother Rose, the mother of all stage mothers. I believe when Ethel Merman created the role of Mama Rose, she injected a lot of her own personality. I don’t think La Merman was as ruthless and aggressive as the real Rose, but I think she gave the character that charming no-nonsense quality that became Mama Rose’s main trait.
At the end of Act One, they have hit rock bottom. When Louise and Herb, Rose’s beau, suggest it is time to fold the act and go back home, Rose brushes off their idea, and with unequivocal determination, she declares that everything will change. She will make things happen for Louise and all of them. And off she goes belting Everything’s Coming Up Roses. It doesn’t get any more theatrical than that, one of the most electrifying ends of any Act One I’ve seen in a musical.
I often find it’s easier being a Merman to others than to ourselves. We can easily encourage and drive others to do things we know they can achieve; our help is just that stepping stone or final push they need to accomplish something. However, when it comes to helping ourselves, we tend to have doubts and hesitation. What we help others achieve, we rarely can get for ourselves. In Gypsy, Mama Rose can propel her daughters into show business and put them on a path to eventually successful careers (the other daughter is June Havoc, Google her). However, Rose was never able to do the same for herself.
Song Title: Everything’s Coming Up Roses – 1959 Artist: Ethel Merman
Genre: Musical Composer: Jule Styne Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Gypsy (Original Broadway Cast, 1959)
Favourite Lyrics: Clear the decks! Clear the tracks! / You’ve got nothing to do but relax. / Blow a kiss. Take a bow. / Honey, everything’s coming up roses!
Runners Up: Gypsy Strip (Let Me Entertain You) • Rose’s Turn • Seattle to Los Angeles • Small World/Momma’s Talkin’ Soft • You’ll Never Get Away from Me • All I Need Is the Girl • Bette Davis Eyes • Happy Feet
76 WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2014
The Donkey Serenade – Mario Lanza
This, my friends, is why I always say that Mario Lanza introduced me New Zealand.
For days after I watched the movie, the places, events and characters remained around me like an engulfing haze of images. The Donkey Serenade played in the background as a reminder of the magnificent setting where the movie had taken place.
After I finished watching it, I immediately put the film among my top 10 favourites of all time. It’s still there.
I’m pretty sure I stopped the tape a few times and let the movie just sink in me. I still do that with movies; in a way, by pausing them, I try to make the experience last longer.
I kept watching intently as I found remarkable how the director, whoever he was, so skilfully and in detail let us inside the mind of these two young girls.
I phoned my friend Dianela, who had recommended the film and left a message. I knew she was away, but just in case she was checking her messages, I wanted her to know I was watching the best film I had seen in years.
I supposed I started watching after having coffee and a cigarette. Within the first few minutes, I was hooked. By the time Mario Lanza’s The Donkey Serenade framed the montage where the two girls, Juliette, and Pauline, furthered their relationship; I was in love with the movie. When Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey undressed in the woods and sang out the tune, I wanted to know where this almost mythological place existed. I stopped the tape and read the cover of the movie to remind me where in the world the story took place. Christchurch, New Zealand.
The evening before, I had rented two movies at the Blockbuster of Connecticut Ave. in Cleveland Park. I must have watched the other one on Friday because I distinctly remember watching Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” on a Saturday morning in late winter 1995.
Link: Heavenly Creatures ~ The Donkey Serenade
Song Title: The Donkey Serenade – 1937 Artist: Mario Lanza Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart Lyricist: Bob Wright and Chet Forrest Album: Heavenly Creatures (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Favourite Lyrics: Senorita donkey sita, not so fleet as a mosquito, / But so sweet like my Chiquita, / You’re the one for me.
Runners Up: Drop Me Off In Harlem • Drop Me Off In Harlem (Reprise) • Doin’ The Niggerati Rag • Linda BrownThe Princess Of Ilam / Dasent • “Two Dutiful Daughters” / Dasent • Dasent • Pauline & Juliet / Dasent
77 THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2014
Put On Your Sunday Clothes – Charles Nelson Reilly, Jerry Dodge, Carol Channing, Igors Gavon, Alice Playten, Ensemble
First of all, let’s all welcome Mr Jerry Herman to the list. I can’t believe he didn’t make it sooner, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of his work on the list.
Okay, a little background. Maybe a few of you remember number 5 on the list, “Maybe” from “Annie”. I used it for the episodic video series I did as part of my thesis to earn my Psychology degree.
As you may recall, the story revolved around a group of siblings who had a children’s TV show. By the time we meet them they are having a cycle on their show dedicated to “Humankind and its Ingenuity”. Among the many musical numbers that we staged for the programme, there was one dedicated to the Wright Brothers.
I won’t bore you again with the story of how the musical director couldn’t come up with original compositions, and I had to use pre-composed music with new and totally unrelated lyrics. Do you see where I’m going with this? Right! Put On Your Sunday Clothes became Preparate Que Nos Vamos Al Cielo Ya (Get Ready We’re About To Leave For The Sky).
As I remember, Orville and Wilbur Wright were in a pissy mood because they were sick and tired of fixing bikes. Wilbur tells Orville he may have a solution and then, shows him the bi-plane he’s been working on. As Orville wonders what his brother’s creation is, Wilbur sings about how this invention will take them up to the vast blue sky. Now, they’ll be able to travel long distances without using trains or boats. Flying is becoming a reality, and they shall fly and reach the moon one day.
It looked beautiful on paper; trust me. As a soon-to-be-Psychologist, I had included enough elements to make it an effective motivational segment, and as a later-rather-the-sooner-TV-guy I had written witty dialogue and catchy lyrics. However, this was the last segment we shot, and after six weeks of hard work, we just wanted to get it all over with. To make a long story short, we gave the number the “one-take-bang-bang-moving-on-Ed-Wood-treatment”.
I regretted not giving the number the attention it deserved. It didn’t come off as nice as I had envisioned, which is a pity because my cousin Gustavo, a plane-model-making enthusiast, had built a beautiful yellow biplane.
I believe I picked Put On Sunday Clothes for this number because of the interaction between Barnaby and Cornelius in the song. It gave me the structure I needed for Wilbur and Orville’s dialogue.
I was gladly surprised when Put On Sunday Clothes was used as a recurring theme in Pixar’s “Wall-e”. I’m pleased a new generation was introduced to that song.
Song Title: Put On Your Sunday Clothes – 1964 Artist: Charles Nelson Reilly, Jerry Dodge, Carol Channing, Igors Gavon, Alice Playten & Ensemble Genre: Musical Composer: Jerry Herman Lyricist: Jerry Herman Album: Hello, Dolly! (The Original Broadway Cast Recording) [Deluxe Edition]
Favourite Lyrics: Beneath your bowler brim the world’s a simple song / A lovely lilt that makes you tilt your nose / Get out your slickers, your flannel knickers / Your red suspenders and hose / For there’s no blue Monday in your Sunday clothes!
Runners Up: The Origin Of Love • Sugar Daddy • Just Leave Everything To Me • Put On Your Sunday Clothes • Dancing • Before The Parade Passes By • Hello Dolly • It Only Takes A Moment • Volare • I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face • I Put My Hand In There • Dancing • Before the Parade Passes By