106 FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER 2014
Stepping Out (Reprise) – Liza Minnelli
This is a song I’ve picked for the way it was staged on a Liza Minnelli’s concert rather than for the song itself, and this one features Liza at her best. No one can take the stage and make it their own the way Liza does.
Stepping Out was written by Kander and Ebb for the 1991 movie of the same name. The film, based on the play of the same name, starred Liza, along with Julie Waters, Jane Krakowski, Bill Irwin, Andrea Martin, and Shelley Winters, among others. The film wasn’t successful, and it found its way onto VHS very soon. A year later, Minnelli used it as the centrepiece for her Radio Music City Hall Concerts.
Choreographed by the great Susan Stroman, Stepping Out takes Liza, and a group of women, through a series of intricate, and yet graceful steps that culminate with a rousing chorus line of synchronised hats and canes. What I love about the show, in general, was the use of women of different ages and shapes in the chorus. I’m not sure if Liza wanted to make a statement then, or maybe 1992 was just so long ago that young skinny bitches hadn’t conquered the entertainment industry yet.
Although I have seen Liza a few times in concert, I was never able to see her dance on stage. I came close one time, but I’m sure I’ll tell you the story if any of the songs I pick later on lends itself to that account.
Song Title: Stepping Out (Reprise) – 1991 Artist: Liza Minnelli Genre: Musical Composer: John Kander Lyricist: Fred Ebb Album: Liza Live From Radio City Music Hall
Favourite Lyrics: Wait and see, there’s no doubt / I’ve played the fool in loves empty pool / But now now now I’m steppin’ out.
Runners Up: Theme From New York, New York • Down With Love • Entr’acte • Unusual Way • Smile • Thoroughly Modern Millie / Jimmy • Gimme, Gimme • You’re So Right for Me • Yes • God Bless The Child • Liza With A ‘Z’ • It Was A Good Time
107 SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER 2014
Bye Bye Blackbird – Liza Minnelli – Top 10 Contender
This is the second inclusion of Bye Bye Blackbird on the list, and it is the version that introduced me to the song.
The first time I put the song on the list I said I thought it had traces of melancholy and sadness; it was almost like a quiet acceptance of fate. While doing research, I found that a few music experts have agreed that the song may be about a prostitute going back home where there’s sunshine galore. Whatever the meaning of the song is, I consider Bye Bye Blackbird one of the most beautiful songs to come out from the jazz era of the 1920s.
Minnelli’s version comes from her 1972 TV special “Liza With A Z”, a film concert choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse. The beauty of this Bye Bye Blackbird version is Fosse’s staging; he takes the song to a new level. From the black derby hats to the snap of the fingers, to the white gloves, to the small movements, to the editing. This number is pure Fosse. Check it out.
Song Title: Bye Bye Blackbird – 1926 Artist: Liza Minnelli Genre: Pop Composer: Ray Henderson Lyricist: Mort Dixon Album: Liza With A ‘Z’ – A Concert For Television
Favourite Lyrics: Make my bed and light the light, / I’ll arrive late tonight, / Blackbird, bye, bye.
Runners Up: Ring Them Bells • You’ve Let Yourself Go • Hello, Hello • Jubilee Time
108 SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER 2014
I Love A Violin – Liza Minnelli
Yes, another Liza song, blame it on her. All of her albums start with Liza [Fill In The Blank], how self-centered can you be? Just kidding, Liza can do no wrong.
Usually, the number of songs I hear during the weekend decreases dramatically; I guess that’s why these three Liza songs came together during this week. I just want to remind you that I’m listening to my entire music library, and each day I have to pick a song, whichever it is.
I Love A Violin is an interesting pick, considering there are other songs on the CD that I like better. I’m not sure if I preferred it because of its energy or the elegance of its lyrics.
Now, that I write about it, I believe I chose it for its lyrics. Sometimes, we seem to be in love with the idea of being in love more than with the person we think we love, do you know what I mean? Our surroundings may often eclipse our perception and what we feel it is love, it may only be an illusion. Hence, the lyrics, “Is it you I’m in love with or the violin I’m in love with?”
I Love A Violin is one of Kay Thompson’s signature numbers. She was such a fabulous performer, one of the original drag queens (figuratively, not literally). I hope I’ll be including some of her other songs later on so I can tell you all about her.
Song Title: I Love A Violin – 1947 Artist: Liza Minnelli Genre: Jazz Composer: Kay Thompson Lyricist: Kay Thompson Album: Liza’s At the Palace
Favourite Lyrics: And when the strings of the orchestra play / Into your arms I romantically glide / I understand what the violin’s saying / When it goes pits, my heart goes pit.
Runner Up: Never Never Land / Over The Rainbow • Rose’s Turn • Cabaret • But The World Goes Round • New York, New York
109 MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 2014
Dejala Bailar – Soledad Bravo
Dejala Bailar (Let Her Dance) always reminds me of my last year of High School, not because I had a very good time, or loved it or anything, au contraire. I hated it a lot, but more on that later, or maybe not. In case a former classmate reads this, it wasn’t because of the people or anything. It was just my own issues (mi propio peo).
So, Dejala Bailar, like it, a lot.
I guess this song represents the end of an era, the end of my teenage years and my shifting into adulthood.
By the time I graduated in July 1982, at 17, I thought I owned the world. I had travelled, driven cars, smoked, drank, and had sex, I had already done everything I was supposed to do during those difficult hormonal years. Adolescence and its growing pains were a thing of the past. In time, I realised that being an adult didn’t happen so easily or fast, but I’m sure I definitely stopped being a teenager in 1982.
Song Title: Dejala Bailar – 1980 Artist: Soledad Bravo Genre: Latin Composer: Chico Buarque Lyricist: Chico Buarque Album: Lo Mejor – Vol. 2
Favourite Lyrics: Detras de un hombre triste / hay siempre una mujer feliz / y tras de esa mujer / hombres gentiles / siempre hay mil / por eso para tu bien / borrala de tu cabeza / o conquista de Nuevo / a esa mujer.
Behind every sad man / there is always a happy woman / and thousands of men / chasing after her / so for your own sake / erase her from your head / or win her over again.
Runners Up: Mambembe • En Mi Viajo San Juan • Si Dios Me Quita La Vida • La Gata Bajo La Lluvia • The Gathering • Ji Yeon
110 TUESDAY 14 OCTOBER 2014
Catch A Falling Star – Emilie de Ravin
I had heard Catch A Falling Star for many years, but it wasn’t until I listened to this version that I really paid any attention to its lyrics. This cut comes from an episode of “Lost’s” last season.
The song was used through the entire run of the series as a recurring theme, primarily associated with one of the characters, Claire. In the episode where this version is featured, three people (Kate, Sayid, and Claire, in case you’re a “Lost” fan) walk through a temple after a deadly battle. Initially, it was the arrangement that grabbed my attention, it was so haunting and evocative that I couldn’t recognise the song for a moment. Then, I paid attention to the lyrics. Catch a falling star, put it in your pocket, never let it fade away; what a beautiful thing to advise. Such a lovely way to give ourselves permission to be sentimental hoarders, we never know when the things we’ve collected and kept near our hearts may awake and finally serve a purpose.
It is a very hopeful song.
Song Title: Catch A Falling Star – 1957 Artist: Emilie de Ravin Genre: Pop Composers: Paul Vance & Lee Pockriss Lyricists: Paul Vance & Lee Pockriss Album: Lost – The Final Season
Favourite Lyrics: For love may come and tap you on the shoulder some starless night / Just in case you feel you want to hold her / You’ll have a pocketful of starlight.
Runners Up: There’s No Place Like Home • Of Mice and Ben • Can’t Kill Keamy • Lying for the Island • Landing Party • A Sunken Feeling • Lax • Sundown
111 WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER 2014
Moving On (Alternate, with Ukulele) – Orchestra – Top Ten Contender
I was a big fan of “Lost”, the TV show. There was something so magical, and mysterious about it that it drew me in after the first episode. I know, it left many fans down throughout its six-year run, but I was so emotionally involved with all of the characters, that I overlooked a few of the unconvincing turns the show took.
The show had its unique soul, and there were four people responsible for that. The first three were its creators, Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof, and the very talented and visionary J.J. Abrams, who, by the way, shares my birthday; he’s a year younger, though.
The other individual responsible for the show’s unique spirit was Michael Giacchino, the virtuoso behind the series soundtrack.
In all my years of watching TV, I can’t remember paying so much attention to a show’s score. Giacchino’s poignant compositions allowed me to go inside the characters and immerse myself in the Island. The last season of the show is driven by its music. All of the unique themes composed for each character and situations come together in search of closure. It is this composition, Moving On, which finally linked them all together.
In a pivotal and exceptionally affective scene, Jack, one of the main characters, sees his dead father, Christian, one last time. Christian serenely and dotingly explains to his son what his existence and that of the people on the island have been all about. Their exchange opens up the idea that we’re destined to spend eternity with the people who accompanied us through the most important period of our lives. Jack opens a door and enters a room in a church where all of his friends from the island wait for him. They’re all ready to move on.
Every time I hear this piece, I feel my soul leaving my body and going places in search of answers which questions I may not now yet. There’s always a kind of resolution at the end.
Song Title: Moving On (Alternate, with Ukulele) – 2010 Artist: Orchestra Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Michael Giacchino Album: Lost – The Last Episodes
Runners Up: George Of The Concrete Jungle • Departing Sun • Charlie Hangs Around • Navel Gazing • Locke’d Out Again • I’ve Got a Plane to Catch • Parting Words • Oceanic 815 • I Can’t Be Bothered Now • A Love Letter From the Times • Delishious • Long Ago and Far Away • Young And Healthy
112 THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2014
Shuffle Off To Buffalo – Ruby Keeler, Clarence Nordstrum, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, Chorus
This 1933 song reminds me of my childhood. Young readers won’t bat an eyelid since they may assume that’s around the time I was born. However, older readers, I hope, will do a double take on my opening sentence.
I had a wonderful and happy childhood; I do not have a single bad memory or experience. I was as happy as any child can be, and I owe that to my parents who made sure my siblings and I had a great upbringing.
I grew up on black and white re-runs of “Merrie Melodies” cartoons. Remember them? Have you ever seen them? They were a series of animated short films produced by Warner Bros. between 1931 and 1969, a few of them Academy Awards Winning shorts, nonetheless.
When I was a kid, particularly during school holidays, my brother, sister, and I could spend a few hours in front of the TV watching cartoons. Our favourites were “Speed Racer”, “Astro Boy”, and “Ōgon Bat” (the first Japanese superhero), among many others. Every now, and then the TV station would fit a few of the “Merrie Melodies” shorts between the shows. Most of the shorts were the ones made in the 1930s, so there were a lot of musical numbers among them.
When I first heard Shuffle Off To Buffalo, it reminded me of all those cartoons I had watched as a child, but no one in particular. It was only the style and sound of the song that made me reminisce about my infancy. It is only now while doing research for this project that I’ve found out that an excerpt from Shuffle Off To Buffalo was used in one of those “Merrie Melodies” shorts, “The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon”. So, I can’t help but wonder why I originally associated this song with the “Merrie Melodies” shorts and, therefore, with my childhood if I didn’t know it had been used in a short. It must have been a repressed memory but in a good way, the song must have triggered a feeling rather than an actual memory, I don’t know. Could this song have been more influential during my formative years than I had originally thought? Could this be the reason why I like music from this era so much? Because it takes me back every time I hear it. It takes me back to an era when I used to be happy.
This project is turning out to be more than picking songs that I like. I may be getting a new perspective on myself.
Song Title: Shuffle Off To Buffalo – 1933 Artist: Ruby Keeler, Clarence Nordstrum, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, Chorus Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Harry Warren Lyricist: Al Dubin Album: Lullaby Of Broadway The Best Of Busby Berkeley At Warner Bros.
Favourite Lyrics: Matrimony is baloney / She’ll be wanting alimony / In a year of so / Still they go and shuffle / Shuffle Off to Buffalo
Runners Up: 42nd Street • We’re In The Money (The Gold Diggers Song) • I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (Outtake) • The Shadow Waltz • I Only Have Eyes For You • Dames • The Lady In Red