232 FRIDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2015
Rich Man’s Frug– Orchestra
Could there be another song more mid-1960s sounding than the Rich Man’s Frug? I doubt it. This silly psychedelic tune comes from Bob Fosse’s 1966 musical “Sweet Charity”. During a swanky affair, a group of velvet-clad dancers do the “Frug”, a dance craze at the time. The style, full of lateral movements came to represent everything Fosse’s choreography was about. Take, for instance, “The Aloof”, walking with shoulders back and swinging your arms from side to side, which is a Fosse signature move.
Fosse recreated the scene for the Sweet Charity film adaptation in 1969. It is a fun scene to watch, you should check it out: BOB FOSSE choreography – ” The Rich Man’s Frug “
Song Title: Rich Man’s Frug – 1966 Genre: Musical Artist: Orchestra Composer: Cy Coleman Album: Sweet Charity – 1966 Original Broadway Cast
233 SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2015
All About Love – Natalie Cole
For over 20 years, I’ve liked All About Love and always thought it was a standard from the 1930s or 1940s. It was only recently that I’ve found out the song is from the 1990s, I guess, the big band arrangement threw me off. I like the playful lyrics and wise message at the end. You can think, sing, write, and fight about love all you want, but if you have never fallen in love, you know nothing. Wise advice to 25-year-old girls who think they know everything.
Song Title: All About Love – 1993 Genre: Jazz Artist: Natalie Cole Composer: Robert Arthur Lyricist: Bill Dana Album: Take A Look
Favourite Lyrics: You must examine your motives clearly / Look at the facts sincerely / Or you mess up very dearly if you don’t
234 SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2015
Heat Wave – Marilyn Monroe
On our first trip to New York City, in 1980, we found ourselves strolling down 5th Avenue on one hot and humid morning. We’d been walking for a while when we saw a huge store having a “Going Out Of Business” sale, you know the type, don’t you? The typical establishment that’s perpetually going out of business but never really closes. The store had most of its inventory in liquidation: housewares, linens, electronics, art pieces, souvenirs, etc. They also had a section with a broad range of Super 8 mm films, mostly cartoons and a few movies. The idea of an entire feature contained in a Super 8 film intrigued me. I was well aware of the time constraints of such reels.
My father had a Super 8 camera and projector and through the years we had built a tiny collection of cartoons and home movies. As a matter of fact, my first work as an editor was splicing together a family trip to Mexico into just one reel when I was 11.
Among the many films for sale, there was a Marilyn Monroe film, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. I was familiar with a few of her films, like “How To Marry A Millionaire” and “Niagara”, but I hadn’t heard about this one. I took the film and threw it among the pile of things my mother and sister had gathered near the cash register.
One of the first things I did after returning home, after two more weeks of travelling through the East Coast and Canada, was watching the film. The reel just turned out to be selected scenes from the feature film. The movie, an almost plotless extravaganza featuring the songs of Irving Berlin, also starred Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, and Dan Daily. Marilyn had two big numbers, “After You Get What You Want” and this one, Heat Wave. I watched and studied the film several times. Marilyn Monroe was so beautiful, it is easy to see why, even to this day, she’s considered a standard of beauty. I watched the 16-minute reel so much that I was able to figure where all the cuts were made, and even came up with a few ideas on how they could have worked better.
However, and most important, this Super 8 reel will always be the film that introduced me to the great Irving Berlin, the Russian-born American composer. I can’t remember how, in a pre-internet era, I was able to find so much information about Irving Berlin. Within a few weeks, I discovered that Berlin, who was still alive, was revered as one of the greatest American composers. Not only had he written, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, but he had also written a few timeless standards, such as, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “White Christmas”, and the US unofficial national anthem, “God Bless America”.
Although I haven’t watched the Super 8 film in years, I still have it. The reel is one of the few mementoes that I still have from my teenage years.
Song Title: Heat Wave – 1933 Genre: Musical Artist: Marilyn Monroe Composer: Irving Berlin Lyricist: Irving Berlin Album: There’s No Business Like Show Business
Favourite Lyrics: We’re having a heat wave / A tropical heat wave / The temperature’s rising / It isn’t surprising / She certainly can, can can
235 MONDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2015
Thoroughly Modern Millie – Sutton Foster – Top 10 Contender
Back in 1987, during my last year of Psychology at University, I decided to work in the area of creativity for my thesis. Among the reasons I listed for choosing that area of research was the latitudinal growing tendency, the world presented at the time, in particular when it came to new technology. As psychologists, it was our responsibility to develop enough tools to ease people’s adaptation to their ever-changing society. Otherwise, they could eventually fail to cope with their shifting environment. Stimulating creativity from early ages was paramount for a successful adaptation.
I went ahead and, with the help of my thesis advisor, TV people and experts in the field of creativity, I developed a TV show to improve creativity in children. Perhaps the most significant contribution to my research came from E. Paul Torrance, the man considered worldwide as the father of creativity. He gave me some orientation and also gave me his blessing to use his Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.
The experiment took place in a public school. The subjects, boys and girls between the ages of nine and ten, were divided into two groups, one experimental, and one control. Both groups were tested before the experiment, and again after the experimental group was exposed to the program for 4 weeks. The group exposed to the program had a statistically significant increase when compared to the control group. There were no differences between boys and girls in the experimental group except when it came to measuring “Flexibility”, where girls scored higher than boys. Flexibility refers to the ability to break traditional patterns and produce answers under varied points of view. Some studies have found that girls are more likely to be better prepared than boys when it comes to successfully adapt to new situations.
It is not until now that I have associated that experience with the way I approach change and new trends. Perhaps having all that knowledge made me more aware of the things I should keep in mind to adapt successfully to the variations in the world.
I often hear people complain about the state of things in present times. They seem to have an opinion, usually negative, about everything; for example, they criticise the things young people do and compare it to how they were done 25 years ago. These are the people who still watch TV off an aerial antenna or via cable. At times, the same people who eagerly signed up for email accounts 20 years fail to see the role of social networking in the world today. In a way, a few of them sound like their parents did 25 years ago.
On those occasions, I like to tell people the story of Millie Dillmount, who came from Kansas to New York City, raised her skirt and bobbed her hair. Although it was only 1922, she understood right away that everything today makes yesterday slow, better face reality.
So friends, chill out! Don’t sweat those things. There’s nothing much we can do about it, we’re not that influential. Think about it, the way things are now, it is very likely that we’ll be on this earth pass our 90th birthday. We just need to make sure we keep up with new things and adapt, so we’re not left behind. In other words, we have to be thoroughly modern and embrace change.
Song Title: Thoroughly Modern Millie – 1967 Genre: Musical Artist: Sutton Foster Composer: Jimmy Van Heusen Lyricist: Sammy Cahn Album: Thoroughly Modern Millie
Favourite Lyrics: What we think is chic, unique and quite adorable / They think is odd and “Sodom and Gomorrah”-ble! / But the fact is / Everything today is thoroughly modern
236 TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2015
This Could Be the Start of Something Big – Jack Jones
This ode to chance is one of those songs that, although I knew and liked for years, only made it to my iTunes Library recently. It’s not only its extremely catchy tune that makes this song cute and charming but also the serendipity of its lyrics, which invite you to look for fate in the most unexpected places.
Although the song is associated with Steve Allen, its author, more than with any other performer, I decided to include this version by the suave Jack Jones. I love Jack Jones and when I realised I hadn’t included him on the list yet, I decided to include his cover of This Could Be the Start of Something Big on the list.
Song Title: This Could Be the Start of Something Big – 1956 Genre: Pop Artist: Jack Jones Composer: Steve Allen Lyricist: Steve Allen Album: Ultra Lounge: Vegas Baby!
Favourite Lyrics: You’re up in an aeroplane or dining at Sardi’s, / Or lying at Malibu alone on the sand, / You suddenly hear a bell, and right away you can tell / That this could be the start of something grand.
237 WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2015
She Loves Me – Buddy Greco
I’ve always marvelled at how perfectly the lyrics and arrangements of this song capture that state of elation when you realise that someone loves you too. It is one of those songs we often fantasise with doing on a broad stage with a big band behind us. I know, it may be only me who feels like doing such thing.
Song Title: She Loves Me – 1963 Genre: Musical Artist: Buddy Greco Composer: Jerry Bock Lyricist: Sheldon Harnick Album: The Very Best of Buddy Greco
Favourite Lyrics: She loves me / And to my amazement / I love it knowing that she loves me / She loves me, / True, she doesn’t show it / How could she, / When she doesn’t know it / Yesterday she loathed me, ah! / Now today she likes me, ah! / And tomorrow, tomorrow… / AAAAAAAAAAAh!
238 THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2015
Out Of The Blue – Julia Murney, Brian d’Arcy James – Top 10 Contender
When I chose “178 Gin/Wild”, during week 26, I told you about “The Wild Party”.
A 1928 poem by Joseph Moncure March, “The Wild Party” tells the story of Queenie and Burns, a dysfunctional vaudevillian couple living together during the latter part of the decadent 1920s. One night they decide to throw a party and invite all of their equally dysfunctional friends. The party does not end up well, particularly for Queenie, Burns, and Blackie, one of their guests.
Two musical adaptations of the poem played New York in 2000. The Broadway version was written by Michael John LaChiusa. The other version, by Andrew Lippa, played Off-Broadway for a limited time. Out Of The Blue comes from the latter version.
As I described in the entry for “178 Gin/Wild”, when I combined both “The Wild Party” albums, I went into a very dark place where I stayed for most of the summer of 2000. At first, I found the bigness of Out Of The Blue engulfing, with almost oppressive drowning effect. The potent vocals of Julia Murney accompanied, by the bombastic arrangements, reminded me of an early 1970s pop ballad. The more I listened to it, the more I got into Queenie’s state of mind. Although, I initially thought she was a victim, I soon realised she was nothing but a calculating and heartless cunt. Her Out Of The Blue wasn’t a plea to get out of a dangerous situation; it was a yearning for Burn’s life to become hell. Burns wasn’t victim either, they both set out to destroy each other that night during the wild party.
Song Title: Out Of The Blue – 1999 Genre: Musical Artist: Julia Murney, Brian d’Arcy James Composer: Andrew Lippa Lyricist: Andrew Lippa Album: The Wild Party (Original Cast Recording)
Favourite Lyrics: Out of the blue / Out of the blue / We’ll see whose bark is worse than their bite / Out of the blue / Out of the blue / It’s time to fly or time to fight