344 FRIDAY 5 JUNE 2015 (-22)
Private Idaho – The B-52’s
Private Idaho belongs to a group of songs that I went ahead and fetched from iTunes because they represent an era. This time, the early 1980s.
As I was becoming a young man, the mission was to be cool. To achieve that, some steps had to be taken. First, I had to lose weight. Chub and cool were never used in the same sentence in those days. Actually, neither it’s the case today. Anyway, I lost like 15 kilos, started to wear nice clothes designed for thin people, karate became my sport, and Marlboros 100 was the choice when it came to smoking. Talk about being cool, eh? I was the ‘cats meow’. Then again, I ask you, could a guy who still describes himself as the ‘cats meow’ in 2015 be cool at all? I’d say no. Neither in 2015 nor in 1981, for that matter.
I wasn’t even close to cool, particularly when it came to the music department. I just pretended to like everything my older brother played on the stereo. Unlike me, he could appreciate good music, regardless of its genre. Private Idaho was perhaps one of the few songs I didn’t have to pretend I liked. There was something so enigmatic and enticing about the beat. It sounded kind of ‘acid’ – Do kids still use that word to describe music or is the sixteen-year-old in me still trying too hard to be cool?
Every time I hear it, I can see myself wearing my Calvin Klein’s, a Lacoste Polo shirt, and Clark’s Desert Boots. I light up a Marlboro, I’m 16 and cool again for the first time.
Song Title: Private Idaho – 1979 Artist: The B-52’s Genre: Pop Composer: Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Ricky Wilson, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson Lyrics: Bob Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Ricky Wilson, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson Album: Wild Planet
Favourite Lyrics: You’re living in your own Private Idaho / Living in your own Private Idaho / Underground like a wild potato / Don’t go on the patio / Beware of the pool / blue bottomless pool / It leads you straight / right through the gate / that opens on the pool.
345 SATURDAY 6 JUNE 2015 (-21)
Goody Goody – Benny Goodman
Let us fast-forward a few years after I first heard “Private Idaho”, and I find myself listening to Benny Goodman, who was not only the cat’s meow but also the “cat’s pyjamas”.
Around 1984 or 1985, my father, who owned a small bookstore/video/record store, started to carry a weekly Big Band Era record collection. Just like those facsimile collections about cars or movie stars, every week the series would feature a musician from the jazz age.
I got the first one mostly out of curiosity, and then I got hooked. For the next few months, I continued to get the records series. That’s the time when I started to get familiar with the likes of Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman, among others.
It was around this time that I realised that contemporary, pop or rock music would probably never be my thing.
Song Title: Goody Goody – 1936 Artist: Benny Goodman Genre: Jazz Composer: Matty Malneck Lyrics: Johnny Mercer Album: Jazz Legends
Favourite Lyrics: Hooray and Hallelujah / You had it comin’ to ya / Goody goody for him / Goody goody for me / And I hope you’re satisfied / You rascal you
346 SUNDAY 7 JUNE 2015 (-20)
Anyone Can Whistle/Being Alive – Sutton Foster
This is the last time the great Stephen Sondheim appears on the list. Nineteen of his creations have been included on the list. That’s almost three weeks worth of his music. I considered the man a genius; no other musical composer can go inside people’s mind and explain through music and lyrics the exact state of mind of his characters. Centuries from now, he will be revered the same way we admire Shakespeare now.
It is also time to bid adieu to my favourite child, Sutton Foster. I have featured her seven times. When you think about it, it is a full week out of 52. I could hear her sing all year long.
It is not a coincidence that they’re both together in their last appearance. Sondheim’s songs always offer some sort of advice or a path to rediscover oneself. He always gives you the tools to get yourself out of whatever hole you may be in. Whether you need to learn to ask someone for help or to admit there’s never a good reason to being alone, no one could possibly tell it better than the lovely Sutton Foster with her beautiful and soothing voice that I’m sure she must have stolen from an angel up above.
Song Title: Anyone Can Whistle/Being Alive – 1964/1970 Artist: Sutton Foster Genre: Musical Composer: Stephen Sondheim Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Album: An Evening with Sutton Foster – Live at the Café Carlyle
Favourite Lyrics: What’s hard is simple / What’s natural comes hard / Maybe you could show me / How to let go / Lower my guard / Learn to be free / Maybe if you whistle / Whistle for me.
347 MONDAY 8 JUNE 2015 (-19)
Overture / I Can’t Be Bothered Now / Blah, Blah, Blah – Orchestra, Tommy Tune, Twiggy, Bruce McGill, Denny Dillon, Ensemble
“My One and Only” is a musical that I discovered by accident. Although I had a vague idea that I had heard about it in the 1980s, it wasn’t until recently that I acquired the record. About five years ago, I discovered and became a bit obsessed with I Can’t Be Bothered Now (See Week 7 No. 43). As I was searching for different versions of the song, I came across the “My One and Only” score and fell in love with this musical inspired by the Gershwins’ compositions. The score’s arrangements are very sophisticated, in particular, the Overture and Prologue, which includes I Can’t Be Bothered Now. The entire album sounds just swellegant. This is my favourite version of any of the jukebox musicals created around the Gershwins’ tunes.
This is the last appearance of the Gershwin Brothers on the list. As a duo, they’re both represented with 14 songs. As a lyricist, Ira scores six more songs on the list.
Song Title: Overture / I Can’t Be Bothered Now / Blah, Blah, Blah – 1983/1937/1930 Artist: Orchestra, Tommy Tune, Twiggy, Bruce McGill, Denny Dillon, Ensemble Genre: Musical /Soundtrack Composer: George Gershwin Lyrics: Ira Gershwin Album: My One and Only (1983 Original Broadway Cast)
Favourite Lyrics: I’ll pay the piper / When times are riper. / Just now I shan’t – / Because you see I’m dancing and I can’t – / be bothered now!
348 TUESDAY 9 JUNE 2015 (-18)
All I Do Is Dream Of You – Debbie Reynolds, Ensemble
Isn’t Debbie Reynolds cool?
I’ve always loved this very darling ditty from “Singin’ In The Rain”. Debbie Reynolds, who was 19 at the time, was close to perfection as the cute ingénue on the girls’ chorus. Who would have thought at the time the petite Texan would have a career spanning over eight decades? Not too mention giving birth to Princess Leia along the way. She always brings a smile to my face whenever I see her on the screen.
Song Title: All I Do Is Dream Of You – 1934 Artist: Debbie Reynolds, Ensemble Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Nacio Herb Brown Lyrics: Arthur Freed Album: Singin’ In The Rain
Favourite Lyrics: And were there more than twenty four hours a day / They’d be spent in sweet content dreaming away / When skies are grey, when skies are blue / Morning, noon and night time too / All I do the whole day thru, is dream of you
349 WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE 2015 (-17)
Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland
I know, it’s hard to believe that it has taken me this long to include Over The Rainbow. It’s not because there were other songs that I liked better. It’s just that I’ve been trying to decide whether to include Judy’s first rendition or one of the versions from later in her career. The former contains all the dreams and hopes of a younger soul while the latter is full of despair and recrimination.
Ever since I started this blog, almost a year ago, I’ve allowed my former selves to come out and write a few of the entries from their points of view. My twenty-year-old wrote about my days at university and my plans to become a filmmaker. My thirty-year-old told you about my life in the United States. My forty-year-old got a bit sleazy and cynical. My fifty-year-old put all of their stories into perspective.
I’m letting the ten-year-old in me have Over The Rainbow, and he’s chosen the original version. Under his point of view, the song is not a lament about misfortunes. When he thinks of it, the song becomes a challenge, a plan to fly over the rainbow, and that’s a part of me I always want to keep alive. I want him to lend me some of his enthusiasm, innocence, hopes and dreams every once in a while. There’s very little I couldn’t accomplish with that attitude.
This is La Garland’s last appearance on the list. With nine songs, she ties with Brent Barrett for third place in the number of songs featured on the list. La Streisand is at number one with 13 songs, and Sinatra is at number two with 10 songs.
Song Title: Over The Rainbow – 1939 Artist: Judy Garland Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Harold Arlen Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg Album: The Wizard of Oz (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Favourite Lyrics: If happy little bluebirds fly / Beyond the rainbow / Why, oh why can’t I?
350 THURSDAY 10 JUNE 2015 (-16)
Meeskite – Jack Gilford – Top 10 Contender
In previous entries, I’ve talked about my brief stint as an actor. I did an original stage play once, and worked on James Cameron’s “Avatar” and Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones”. The three experiences were a lot of fun, but I don’t think that’s a venue I’d ever explore again. Acting is not my thing. However, the older I get, the more I fantasise often with playing Herr Schultz in a colour-blind cast production of “Cabaret” – Herr Schultz is a German Jew. I’d love to sing Meeskite on stage, it is perhaps my favourite melody from any Kander and Ebb song.
It is now time to bid goodbye to another duo whose songs featured prominently on the list. I have included 26 Kander and Ebb songs, which makes them both the composer (Kander) and lyricist (Ebb) with more songs on the list. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised with the result. Although I’ve considered Kander and Ebb my favourite composers for years, I thought Stephen Sondheim would end up being the one with more compositions on the list.
Song Title: Meeskite – 1966 Artist: Jack Gilford Genre: Musical Composer: John Kander Lyrics: Fred Ebb Album: Cabaret (Original Recording 1966)
Favourite Lyrics: Meeskite, meeskite / No one ever saw a bigger meeskite, meeskite / Everywhere a flaw and maybe that is the reason why / I’m going to love her until I die