WEEK 35 / 20 – 26 FEBRUARY 2015


Ferryboat Serenade (La Piccinina) – The Andrews Sisters


I haven’t owned a car in 12 years. I simply don’t like driving, never did. Unlike my brother, who started driving at 14, I didn’t show any desire for driving when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, I waited until I turned 20 to get my driver’s licence. Several factors played a role in me getting my permit then. First, my university schedule became very erratic, and I found hard finding a ride to and fro the university, which was 45 minutes away from the city. Second, my parents thought I was getting too old to depend on them to ferry me around the city, or all the way to the university. Third, and I think this was the deal breaker, my musical taste. My brother and sister didn’t want me to tag along with them and play my music during the 45-minute-long ride to the university campus. I know, how can someone’s exquisite taste in music have him kicked out of a car ride? That’s unheard of.

I’m not sure why, but sometime in the early 1980s, people went nostalgic for the 1940s. Many songs and acts from the era were re-issued for younger generations to discover. That’s when I found the “Andrews Sisters”. I immediately liked their melodic voices and songs’ arrangements. Their songs quite appealing, “Rum And Coca Cola” and this one, Ferryboat Serenade, were my favourites, I used to play their record at home all the time. I thought they were fantastic, my siblings not so much, though.

Whenever we drove together to university, we took turns using the car stereo to play the music of our liking. I always played musicals, jazz and big bands. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that for people in their late teens and early 20s, my music wasn’t the coolest music to hear. (Heck, even now at 50, people may not find it that cool.) I believe my siblings were embarrassed for me, and my musical taste, particularly when their friends rode in the car with us, they would make excuses for me. The day I played the Ferryboat Serenade, that’s the day I crossed the line, I’m certain of. After that, they insisted Fernando, a friend who usually rode with them to class, played his music which was more varied and age-appropriate.

I guess my parents picked on that and bought a car for me to use, the car was never mine. Our parents never gave us cars, the cars always belonged to them, they just let us use them when we needed to. I drove a second-hand 1980 Chevy Malibu, which I drove for the rest of my days at university. I was now free to listen to my music full blast. Not that many of my friends appreciated, but my car, my rules, my music.

Song Title: Ferryboat Serenade (La Piccinina) – 1939   Genre: Pop   Artist: The Andrews Sisters   Composer: Eldo di Lazzaro   Lyricist: (English) Harold Adamson (Italian) Mario Panzeri   Album: Your Hit Parade – 1940

Favourite Lyrics: I love to ride the ferry / Where music is so merry / There’s a man who always plays the concertina, oh my / On the moonlit upper deck arena, by and by


South America, Take It Away – Buddy Clark

16 Most Requested Songs

On the very dark and excellent film “Angel Heart”, directed by Allan Parker, the song “Girl Of My Dreams” is used as a recurring and haunting theme throughout the movie. After watching the film, I set out to find that song and found a cut by Buddy Clark. However, it was the silly, and in a way condescending South America, Take It Away, the one that turned out to be my favourite from his “16 Most Requested Songs” CD.

It is a coincidence that Buddy Clark follows the Andrew Sisters this week. His last public appearance on a radio show was with Maxine, Laverne and Patty Andrews. On October 1st, 1949, a few hours after they performed together, he died in an aeroplane crash, at the young age of 37.

Song Title: South America, Take It Away – 1946   Genre: Musical   Artist: Buddy Clark   Composer: Harold Rome   Lyricist: Harold Rome   Album: 16 Most Requested Songs

Favourite Lyrics: Take back your Samba, ay!, your Rumba, ay!, your Conga, ay-yi-yi! / I can’t keep movin’, ay!, my chassis, ay!, any longer, ay-yi-yi! / Now maybe Latins, ay!, in their middles, ay!, are built stronger, ay-yi-yi! / But all this takin’ to the quakin’ / And this makin’ with the shakin’ leaves me achin’, olé!


42nd Street – Kate Levering

42nd Street (2001)

42nd Street has never been more dangerous, sleazier and sexier than with the treatment this 1932 song received when it was used in the 1980 play. There was a time when this thoroughfare, which runs into Times Square, had a more organic existence than its Disneyfication of the last 20 years.

If you’ve ever seen the 1933 film, “42nd Street”, you will recall Ruby Keeler tapping away on the stage, and inviting us to take a glance at the street she sings about. The scene is rather playful. A very tall man holding hands with a very short woman, and street fruit vendors leaving their stands to go play golf, are a few of the gags pulled by this Busby Berkeley number. However, the sequence turns dark when a woman is stabbed by her lover. When the film was adapted into a musical, its director and choreographer, Gower Champion, took that darkness moment from the original movie and expanded on it. Making it grittier and perhaps closer to what 42nd Street must have really looked and felt in the 1930s.

Song Title: 42nd Street – 1932   Genre: Soundtrack   Artist: Kate Levering   Composer: Harry Warren   Lyricist: Al Dubin   Album: 42nd Street (2001)

Favourite Lyrics: Little “nifties” from the Fifties, / Innocent and sweet; / Sexy ladies from the Eighties, / Who are indiscreet.


Go Visit – Tommy Breslin, Henrietta Jacobson

70, Girls, 70

This week is definitely filled with fun silly songs, such as this one from the show “70, Girls, 70”. This is the second song from this play to make it to the list. “Boom, Ditty, Boom” made it to the list during Week 27.

Go Visit was a source inspiration for one of the favourite characters I’ve ever created. In my novel, “The Return Of The Army Of Light”, Lucas goes to Elysium’s Retirement Home in Hawke’s Bay to interview Lorraine, an elderly lesbian. It is his hope she can shed some light on the mystery of the naked man running down Cuba Mall.

You can read an excerpt here: Go Visit

Song Title: Go Visit – 1971  Genre: Musical   Artist: Tommy Breslin, Henrietta Jacobson   Composer: John Kander   Lyricist: Fred Ebb   Album: 70, Girls, 70

Favourite Lyrics: Don’t be a louse like your brother Miltie / He doesn’t know the meaning of guilty. / He likes to call her an alte kakker, /Someday he’ll shock her off her rocker.


Let’s Face The Music And Dance – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Cheek to Cheek (Deluxe Version)

This one should belong to Frank Sinatra; after all, it was on his “Trilogy” record that I first heard this song. However, this may be the only chance I’ll have to include Lady Gaga on the list, and believe it or not, I’m not a big Tony Bennett fan. So, what the heck, I’ll give them this song.

Let’s Face The Music And Dance is kind of a jewel; I’ve always liked the urgency of the lyrics. There’s an impending need to do something right away. If we waited, there wouldn’t be another chance to do it, and we’d be missing on something.

Song Title: Let’s Face the Music and Dance – 1936   Genre: Soundtrack   Artist: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga Composer: Irving Berlin   Lyricist: Irving Berlin   Album: Cheek to Cheek (Deluxe Version)

Favourite Lyrics: Before the fiddlers have fled / Before they ask us to pay the bill / And while we still / Have the chance / Let’s face the music and dance


Unexpected Song – Bernadette Peters

Song & Dance (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

I knew this day would arrive, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. It is time to admit it. Despite spending most of my 20s, 30s, and 40s hating him, there’s no denying that I like Andrew Lloyd Webber. There’s nothing I can do about it.

“Hi, my name is Luis and I like Andrew Lloyd Webber.”

“Hi, Luis.”

I used to say that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sole purpose in life was to create entertainment for the masses. His music was for the little people who were not cultured enough to appreciate opera. I’m talking about the type of persons who assumed that if a show was sung from start to end, it almost made it an opera. Therefore, they were being exposed to culture. Hence, they were sophisticated. I know, what a ridiculous thing to say, considering that I’ve never gotten opera myself.

When I was a child, I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I was too young to understand all the hippie crap. (There was a hippie element to it, wasn’t there? Or am I talking out of my ass?) Anyway, I followed “Jesus Christ Super Star” with “Evita”, “Cats”, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Sunset Boulevard”. Although I enjoyed them mildly, I couldn’t get what was so great about Lloyd Webber. Of course, I’m not that much of a moron; I was able to appreciate the production value of the shows. I couldn’t ignore the amount of revenue they generated either. He was a very successful impresario.

I presume what it bothered me was that everybody started developing sing-through shows and neglected the American musical comedy style, which I adored. Thankfully, a series of flops from Lloyd Webber bag of shows, and the triumphal revival of “Chicago” in 1996 reversed that tendency.

Sometime in the late 1990s, I saw a version of “Song & Dance” at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. The solo show featured Unexpected Song; I had never heard it before and thought it was one of the sweetest, most enchanting melodies I had ever heard. I fell in love with it, but couldn’t make my love for the song public. I had built a reputation as an Andrew Lloyd Webber hater; I had to protect my image. So, I forgot all about the song, and it wasn’t until I started this project that I thought about Unexpected Song again and decided to see if I still felt the same. I went to iTunes and bought it. As soon as I heard the first notes, the same rush of emotions inundated my body. I was still in love with this song.

I won’t go as far as to say that I love Andrew Lloyd Webber now, but I respect him. After all, he’s been one of the most fruitful and prolific composers of his generation.

Song Title: Unexpected Song – 1984   Genre: Musical   Artist: Bernadette Peters   Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber   Lyricist: Don Black   Album: Song & Dance (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Favourite Lyrics: Now, no matter where I am / No matter what I do / I see your face appearing / Like an unexpected song / An unexpected song / That only we are hearing


You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby) – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

This song will always remind me of Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, particular during the summer of 1998. As I get older, I have come to consider this little beach town in the Delmarva Peninsula on the Atlantic Coast of the United States as one of my favourite places in the world. I used to go a great deal during the summer months when I lived in D.C. It is just a lovely and peaceful town; I can’t recall ever having a bad time there. Walking along the boardwalk, swimming in Poodle Beach and eating pizza at Nicola are a few of the sweet memories etched in my mind. When the months of June, July and August roll in the southern hemisphere, and the Southerlies arrive, I close my eyes and for a split second, I can feel the warm sea breeze of the Atlantic Ocean blowing on my face.

Rehoboth Beach is the place I often fantasise about moving to when I retire or win Lotto, whichever happens first.

Song Title: You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby) – 1994   Genre: Jazz   Artist: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy   Composer: Scotty Morris   Lyricist: Scotty Morris   Album: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Favourite Lyrics: Man I know I gotta go it’s the same thing every / Time, but I don’t think another drinks’ gonna /Make me lose my mind. So I think about my / Next drink, and it’s you & me and the bottle / Makes 3 tonight.