Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another Type Of Poetry, Another Great Pianist

George and Ira Gershwin

Old Man Sunshine, listen you:
Never tell me dreams come true.
Just try it, and I'll start a riot.

Beatrice Fairfax, don't you dare
Ever tell me he will care.
I'm certain it's the final curtain.

I never want to hear from any cheerful Pollyannas
Who tell you fate supplies a mate -
It's all bananas ...

They're writing songs of love, but not for me;
A lucky star's above but not for me.
With love to lead the way, I've found more clouds of gray
Than any Russian play could guarantee.

I was a fool to fall and get that way;
Hi-ho ... alas ... and also lack-a-day.
Although I can't dismiss the mem'ry of his kiss
I guess he's not for me.

I'm a total sap for those tunes collectively known as "The Great American Songbook." Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Walter Donaldson, Hoagy Carmichael, Harry Warren ... I could go on and on (and probably will). Since I'm about as musically talented as a grapefruit and can't carry a tune in a bushel basket, I can't amuse myself by actually performing these great numbers, but I love 'em and have reached the point with CDs where I may have to construct outbuildings to house them.

I also love the lyrics, and am compelled to write them down and babble about my favorites to friends and fam who may or may not be the least bit interested. The lyrics are art unto themselves, beautifully crafted and often married so seamlessly to the tune that it's hard to imagine one without the other. George Gershwin had his brother Ira to co-write; Berlin and Porter were the rarities that wrote their own lyrics. The other tunesmiths sought help from greats such as the amazingly prolific Johnny Mercer, Dorothy Fields and Lorenz Hart (three of my favorites), Al Dubin, Mack Gordon, Andy Razaf and many more. Some lyricists of the period have only a handful of lyrics that are still popular today, and some like Mercer have scores.

Here is a sample of the number above - I couldn't find one that was postable that used the verse, but this has the spectacular Teddy Wilson at the piano, with Helen Ward on vocal.

But Not For Me


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the verse to BUT NOT FOR ME.

You mentioned most of my favorite composers and lyricists!

The Teddy Wilson/Helen Ward combination produced a gem here. They were teamed prior to 1940'S BUT NOT ... on both Wilson and BG Trio records. You're bound to get great results when two simpatico artists get together!