113 FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014
Hooray For Hollywood – Dick Powell, Francis Langford, Johnny Scat Davis, Gene Krupa, And Benny Goodman And His Orchestra
Originally written as the opening of a Busby Berkeley extravaganza, Hooray For Hollywood has become one of America’s main show business anthems. The other two being “That’s Entertainment” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.
Although the song has been performed by many singers, most notably Doris Day in 1958, I prefer this version, the original from the 1937 “Hollywood Hotel”. I like the jazzy, swingy thing that the piece has going on. If you see the clip from the movie (Hooray For Hollywood!) the guys playing with Benny Goodman are very cool cats.
The lyrics by Johnny Mercer are dated, though. Not many people now can get all the cultural references, and I don’t believe anybody has ever tried to update the lyrics – Thank God, that’d be lame. However, I believe the composition is still quite popular and can occasionally be heard at the Oscars as background music.
I’m sure anyone who has wanted to have a career in Hollywood knows this song by heart.
Fun fact. The Mr Factor, who would make a monkey look good, is Max Factor himself, not the cosmetic company. It is the man who created the cosmetic empire and who worked in Hollywood for many years.
Song Title: Hooray For Hollywood – 1937 Artist: Dick Powell, Francis Langford, Johnny Scat Davis, Gene Krupa, And Benny Goodman And His Orchestra Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Richard A. Whiting Lyricist: Johnny Mercer Album: Lullaby Of Broadway The Best Of Busby Berkeley At Warner Bros.
Favourite Lyrics: Hooray for Hollywood / You may be homely in your neighbourhood / But if you think that you can an actor / See Mr. Factor, he’d make a monkey look good / With a half an hour, you’ll look like Tyrone Power / Hooray for Hollywood
Runners Up: All’s Fair In Love And War • Overture • Big Time • Hundreds Of Girls • Tap Your Troubles Away
114 SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 2014
Hundreds Of Girls – Howard McGillin
Have I told you about Jerry Herman’s “Mack & Mabel” yet? I believe I mentioned it briefly when I included “I Won’t Send Roses” on the list not too long ago.
Although, Jerry Herman is better known for shows like “Hello Dolly” and “La Cage Aux Folles”, to name a few, “Mack & Mabel” is my favourite. It is actually one of my favourite musical scores, in general.
Let me start by telling you a little bit about the real Mack and Mabel, both prominent figures in the silent film industry. Considered the father of slapstick comedy, Mack Sennett founded the Keystone Studios in 1912. His studio produced all those madcap comedies from the early years of film, which included the famous Keystone Cops. Sennett launched the careers of many actors, such as Bing Crosby, Gloria Swanson, and Charlie Chaplin. Among the stars, there was Mabel Normand, who starred in many of Chaplin’s first films.
The musical centres around Mack and Mabel’s volatile on and off relationship.
In the play, Mabel leaves Sennett to pursue a career in drama. Mack, who is convinced he can survive without his star, comes up with the idea of making stars out of ordinary women. Not one, two, or three girls, but hundreds; he’ll make stars out of Hundreds of Girls. Hence, creating the famous “Sennett’s Bathing Beauties”, a gaggle of pretty young girls wearing provocative swimwear in short films.
Starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, the show opened on Broadway in 1974 but closed after only 66 performances and 6 previews. However, it was nominated for eight Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Actor, and Best Actress, but none for Jerry Herman’s score, which was the only thing critics agreed was memorable.
I read somewhere that the show may have been a tad dark, particularly towards the end. You see, Mabel becomes a drug addict, she’s the prime suspect in the murder of her lover the director William Desmond Taylor, and she dies of tuberculosis at 37. Also, their relationship between Mack and Mabel may not have been as romantic as the play tried to imply.
The show contains many memorable songs, such as, “I Won’t Send Roses”, “I Want To Make The World Laugh”, “Time Heals Everything” and “Tap Your Troubles Away”.
This particular version of Hundreds Of Girls comes from the 1995 West End staging, which was a tad more successful than the Broadway run.
Song Title: Hundreds Of Girls – 1974 Artist: Howard McGillin Genre: Musical Composer: Jerry Herman Lyricist: Jerry Herman Album: Mack & Mabel: London Cast Recording
Favourite Lyrics: I’ll sprinkle spice / Into his life / To make him forget / That he’s stuck with his wife / Give him hundreds and hundreds of girls!
Runners Up: I Wanna Make The World Laugh • Tap Your Troubles Away
115 SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER 2014
Tap Your Troubles Away – Jerry Herman, Tommy Tune – Top 10 Contender
Also from “Mack and Mabel”, Tap Your Troubles Away is a gem of a song. It contains one of my favourite lyrics of all-time too; if a sky full of crap always lands in your lap, make a curtsey and tap your troubles away.
Of all the covers I have of this song, I’ve chosen this one, a Tommy Tune version with a brief introduction by Jerry Herman. It comes from a 1988 concert at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London. I like it better than the other versions because it was recorded live, and you can feel the energy of the audience reacting to what they see on the stage.
As my mother would say, Tap Your Troubles Away could raise anyone from the dead. I challenge you to listen to it and not tap your feet under the table. I’m sure you’ll see yourself tapping away on a stage when you listen to this song.
This song has accompanied me for almost 25 years, not only in times when I’ve been down but also during the periods that I’ve been up. I don’t feel like talking much about it, by doing so, I believe, the song would lose a little bit of its magic.
Song Title: Tap Your Troubles Away – 1974 Artist: Jerry Herman, Tommy Tune Genre: Musical Composer: Jerry Herman Lyricist: Jerry Herman Album: Mack & Mabel – Live
Favourite Lyrics: If a sky full of crap / Always lands in your lap / Make a curtsey and / Tap your troubles away
Runners Up: I Promise You a Happy Ending
116 MONDAY 20 OCTOBER 2014
I Want to Go to Hollywood – Sutton Foster
I know this isn’t a Sutton Foster’s song, but here’s the deal; if all the singers on this list were my children, Sutton Foster would be my favourite child, the woman can do no wrong. I’ll include her on the list whenever possible.
Originally interpreted by Jane Krakowski, this song comes from “Grand Hotel”, the 1989 musical version of the 1929 novel and play, and the film of the same name. In the play, I Want To Go To Hollywood is sung by Fraulein Flaemmchen, a young typist with ambitions to be a star.
This specific version comes from a 2003 Maury Yeston Songbook. Yeston wrote a few songs to complement the ones written by Robert Wright and George Forrest in 1958, when the musical saw its first staging under the title, “At The Grand”.
The song starts with such resolution that you can’t help but be certain that the singer is one step away from being a Hollywood star, and you just feel like joining her in the celebratory anticipation of the life she’s about to embark on – I wanna have a hot time every night, go out and raise a little Fahrenheit. It is the type of song a chorine would sing once she’s been offered a role in a movie or a play. Then, reality sinks in and we get the real picture, we are privy to her desperate and miserable existence – the worn-out bristles on your hairbrush, the pennies needed for the heat ev’ry hour, and when you get sick, you stay sick. From a solid plan, the song quickly becomes a cry for help, a plea for a woman who is at her wits ends. If you’ve ever gone through a low period in your life or have felt hopeless, I’m sure you can relate to the lyrics. Not that you wanted to go to Hollywood, but probably you just wanted to escape to an almost fairyland place.
Song Title: I Want to Go to Hollywood – 1989 Artist: Sutton Foster Genre: Musical Composer: Maury Yeston Lyricist: Maury Yeston Album: The Maury Yeston Songbook
Favourite Lyrics: I wanna sing the blues / I wanna wear nice shoes / And drink illegal booze / In every late night spot / for Le Jazz Hot
Runners Up: It’s Today! • We Need a Little Christmas • Mame • Bosom Buddies • That’s How Young I Feel • Main Title/Saint BridgetIt’s • Today • Finale
117 TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER 2014
The Trolley Song – Judy Garland – Top 10 Fast-Tracked – 5th Place Finish
Here’s The Trolley Song, the song that I have the feeling *Spoiler Alert* will finish at number one on my list of Top 10 Songs of my first 50 years.
Where can I start with The Trolley Song?
From the 1944 classic, “Meet Me In St. Louis”, in my opinion, this song is the basis for one of the best musical sequences ever filmed during the MGM golden era. Unlike other musicals where songs come and go without any particular reason, often slowing the movie, The Trolley Song not only moves the story along, but it also let us in the emotional state of Esther.
Young Esther (Judy Garland) is in love with the boy next door, John. When a group of kids decides to go to explore the grounds where the 1904 World Fair will be staged, Esther eagerly awaits the arrival of John before it is time for the streetcar to depart. John doesn’t make it on time. Disappointed and disheartened, Esther makes her way to the top level of the trolley where she sits quietly while her friends remain immersed in a festive atmosphere. Within 30 seconds of the trolley departing, John chases after it, trying to board it. Esther’s face lights up, she’s ecstatic to see John boarding the streetcar. They finally reunite on the top deck to continue their trek to the fairgrounds. Please, watch it for the first time or the 100th time: Judy Garland – The Trolley Song (Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944)
The number is successful at many levels. As I said before, it advances the plot of the movie and moves the two characters to the next level of their relationship. The theme is universal and timeless. Whether it is a girl and her girlfriends hanging at the mall waiting for the boy she likes to show up or even waiting with a smartphone in hand for the same boy to return a text, the sequence perfectly captures what it is to be young. Young, in love and not knowing how to react to these new feelings of love that adolescence carries.
The success of the song, however, belongs to Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland. Minnelli’s vision of the movie is simply gorgeous; every single frame is a work of art. Under his direction, The Trolley Song becomes more than a fun tune with catchy lyrics. It becomes a young woman’s yearning to find a companion to ride with her, holding her hand, until the end of the line. In a way, the song becomes a longing to find a life partner who will stay standing next to us for the rest of our lives. Only Judy Garland, who looked so beautiful in this movie, could have sold us on the idea of finding love along the chug, chug, chug of the motor, and the bump, bump, bump of the brake.
Back in 1999, I saw “Minnelli On Minnelli”, a Broadway show in which Liza sang songs from her father’s movies; The Trolley Song was among them. In its introduction, Liza talked about how much fun her parents had had while making this film, and how her mother, although not totally sold on the idea, had gone along with Vincente Minnelli’s vision of the song. At the end of the number, Liza sings on stage with her mother on film. It was a very thrilling theatrical moment, I could swear I peed a little bit in my underwear when I heard the first clang, clang, clang.
Of all the songs I’ve picked so far, The Trolley Song is perhaps the one that has had the largest influence on my life. Most of the things I’ve done in the last 10 years can be traced back to this song. More on that, next week.
Song Title: The Trolley Song – 1944 Artist: Judy Garland Genre: Soundtrack Composers: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane Lyricists: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane Album: Meet Me In St. Louis
Favourite Lyrics: As he started to leave / I took hold of his sleeve / With my hand / And as if it were planned / He stayed on with me / And it was grand just to stand / With his hand holding mine / Till the end of the line.
Runners Up: Hot Shot • Steal Your Rock ‘N’ Roll • On a Clear Day • Overture • Old Friends • Now You Know
118 WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 2014
Now You Know – Alan Mosley, Company, Maria Friedman, Matthew White & Michael Cantwell – Top 10 Contender
This is the second appearance of Now You Know on the list (See Week 09). Unlike the Craig Rubano version, this one is an original cast recording from a 1992 London staging.
This is a “tell-it-like-it-is” musical moment that a few shows have, no sugar coating the reality and often cruelty that fate throws your way. Life often sucks, and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. It is a very enlightening song.
Song Title: Now You Know – 1981 Artist: Alan Mosley, Company, Maria Friedman, Matthew White & Michael Cantwell Genre: Musical Composer: Stephen Sondheim Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Merrily We Roll Along (Original Cast Recording)
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: Opening Doors • Old Friends • Not a Day Goes By (Act One) • Good Thing Going • Opening Doors • Our Time • Franklin Shepard, Inc. • Old Friends (Pt. 2) • Now You Know • Good Thing Going • Not a Day Goes By (Pt. 2) • Opening Doors • Our Time • Franklin Shepard, Inc.
119 THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 2014
Old Friends – Celia Keenan-Bolger, Colin Donnell & Lin-Manuel Miranda
I dare anyone to listen to this song, also from “Merrily We Roll Along”, and not think of the friendships they have nurtured through the years. It is a beautiful love letter to friendship, particularly the ones we’ve fostered in our younger years.
Song Title: Old Friends – 1981 Artist: Celia Keenan-Bolger, Colin Donnell & Lin-Manuel Miranda Genre: Musical Composer: Stephen Sondheim Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim Album: Merrily We Roll Along: 2012 New York Cast Recording
Favourite Lyric: Most friends fade / Or they don’t make the grade. / New ones are quickly made, / Perfect as long as they’re new. / But us, old friends, / What’s to discuss, old friends? / Here’s to us! / Who’s like us? / Damn few!
Runners Up: Our Time