Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Posts tagged ‘Fred Astaire’


Here’s a clip from the 1953 movie “The Band Wagon.” It features Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, and Jack Buchanan singing “Triplets.” I think I may have already done this video but I’ve done lots of videos more than once so here ya go!

I thought about this video today because of a question a friend of mine posed on Facebook. He asked “What would you do if you knew your child was a sociopath?” Alright, clearly he’s been watching too much “Dexter” but it’s an interesting question. I told him I believe all kids are sociopaths before a certain age. Don’t get me wrong, babies and toddlers are adorable and awesome people, but if you blow a toddler up to man size, don’t stand between him and cookies. Trust me, he would have no compunction about taking you down to get to them.

I have no idea when our empathy and morality gets switched on but I’m glad, for most of us, it does. It is a dimmer switch though and sometimes we all have it set a bit gloomier than we should. I doubt many of us truly have to worry about raising sociopaths. Perhaps a better question for parents would be: How do we avoid raising kids who have chronic “mood lighting of the soul?”

Don’t Make Me Pull This Band Wagon Over!

“The Band Wagon” is a 1953 musical starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Nannette Fabray, Oscar Levant, and Jack Buchanan. Even though it wasn’t as popular, critics say it is on par with “Singing In The Rain.” The song “That’s Entertainment” was written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz for the movie. Here are Fred, Nanette, Jack and Oscar performing the song.

Being a Mommy is the most entertaining thing I’ve ever done. I read an article the other day that said lots of people nowadays are not jumping on the parenthood bandwagon. They like having free time, relatively stress free lives, clean homes, and disposable income (whatever). I gotta tell you though, for the entertainment value, you really can’t beat a kid (no matter how much you want to sometimes *rimshot*). I’ve seen and occasionally even met some really great comedians in my time, but I gotta tell you, my daughter’s the funniest person I know.*

*The opinions expressed in this blog are wholly unbiased and they exactly reflect the opinions of management.

Royal Wedding II: Electric Boogaloo

THE “Royal Wedding” y’all! Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, what more is there to say?

Friends of mine will be wearing tiaras at work today. They’ve declared it “any excuse to show my inner princess” day. Personally, Imma take a “Kwanzaa” on this one and celebrate my inner princess a day later!

The Royal Wedding

Here’s a clip from the movie “Royal Wedding.” The movie was released in 1951 and it starred Fred Astaire and Jane Powell as a brother and sister dance team. Powell was actually the studio’s third choice for the role, probably because she is 30 years Fred’s junior. I guess, that’s technically possible but it’d almost certainly be a parent’s worst nightmare to have kids 30 years apart! The song here is “You’re All The World To Me.” It’s the famous number where Fred dances on the walls and the ceiling.

The airwaves are filled with talk of royal nuptials these days. Some people are concerned that real news is being overshadowed by pointless celebrity claptrap like this. Personally, I’m resigned to the idea that journalism has become infotainment so these sorts of “news items” are inevitable. I try to get my news from sources where I can ignore the fluff.  I suppose though, as useless white noise stories go, this one is relatively harmless. It’ll likely bring a lot of revenue to the country and the wedding will probably be gorgeous. That’s nice for everyone who tunes in. I won’t be watching myself because I don’t give a tomato rat’s aspic about any of it. I did, however, just buy a box set of 50 musicals which includes the movie “Royal Wedding!” I watched it last night and I might just watch it again when those other royals get hitched. I figure, if my news is going to be overshadowed anyway, I’ll take Fred Astaire dancing with a coat rack over the latest shocking photos of Prince William’s receding hairline any day!

“Forgotten” Performances

Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer worked together on the score for the 1942 Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth film “You Were Never Lovelier.” The score included the songs “I’m Old Fashioned” and “Dearly Beloved” which have since become jazz standards. So I picked the number “Shorty George.” It’s a really nice dance number and a song you seldom hear.

The most famous Jerome Kern/Fields song is probably “The Way You Look Tonight.” I decided to go with Diana Krall singing “Pick Yourself Up.” It was written for the 1936 film “Swing Time.” I doubt it’ll embed but it is a lovely rendition and worth following the link!

I never knew PG Wodehouse was a lyricist! Apparently he, Jerome Kern, and another gentleman called Guy Bolton are considered by some to be the fathers of musical comedy. I chose “Bill” which Wodehouse and Kern wrote in 1917 for the musical “Oh, Lady! Lady!” but it was reused in the musical “Show Boat.” I think “Bill” is the most popular song by Wodehouse and Kern But here’s a version most people probably never hear. This is an undubbed clip of Eva Gardener singing the song. Her voice was dubbed by Annette Warren before the film was released.

There are lots of popular Kern/Hammerstein songs. “The Song Is You” and “All The Things You Are” are probably most popular.  “Old Man River” is also pretty popular but I bet it’s not what people think of first. Here’s the most famous and best version in my book by Paul Robeson.

I got cut off in the middle of writing this post because God was trying to make a river from scratch in the middle of my work day. The skies grew dark and the heavens opened up and unleashed a storm that drove us all from our cubicles and into the hallway for a 1950’s style “Duck and Cover” drill. Luckily it let up long enough so I could drive home but even as I type I hear another doozy kicking up out there. I do hope it doesn’t get too serious. I’d be terrible at ark building, the dog is fixed and I have absolutely NO desire to repopulate the earth!

Fred Astaire’s Dark Secret

Grandma Beautiful’s crackpot Fred Astaire Theory: Fred was secretly Black. You could tell by the shape of his rump and by the way he danced.
“So Near And Yet So Far”  is from the 1941 movie “You’ll Never Get Rich” which starred Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in her first starring role. As part of the film’s promotion, Hayworth did a Life Magazine spread. A picture of her kneeling on her bed became the most popular pin-up of all time. Have a gander. Lovely isn’t she?

Rita Hayworth Pin Up

Here is a clip from the original film. The speaking parts are dubbed into Spanish. My meager and ancient high school Spanish chops are not equal to the translation task so I have little to no idea what they’re saying. The song is still in English and dance is a really cool rumba hybrid though so please enjoy!

I just finished watching “Ken Burns’ Jazz” documentary. People rib Burns about his “film a postcard and pluck a banjo” style of film making but I found this series really informative. I did think it was curious that Fred Astaire didn’t rate so much as a mention even though he was responsible for introducing the world to so many of the songs we now consider jazz standards. Of course the program’s main focus was African-American contributions to the art. If only Fred had had the courage to admit his secret Negrosity*, he could have totally dominated the show!

*Yes, I just made up a word.

Cole Porter And The Big Apple

Cole Porter died in 1964 but it seems back in 1991 the world celebrated his 100th birthday in a big way! There are at least 7.2 trillion Cole Porter centennial collection CDs. (Hyperbole? What’s that?) Happily a friend posted a video of one of his favorite songs on Facebook. From the 1930 musical “The New Yorkers,” here’s Lee Wiley singing “Let’s Fly Away.”

That song only seems to appear on the 1992 3-disc set “You’re The Top: Cole Porter in the 1930’s – Cole Porter Centennial Collection.” This set focuses on Porter’s most prolific decade. It contains a lot of songs I’ve never heard. For example here’s a nifty video I found of another song from this collection. It’s from the movie “Broadway Melody 1940.” Fred Astaire and George Murphy performing “Please Don’t Monkey With Broadway.”

I sure wish I was going to New York freakin’ City man! I don’t have a complete “B Goes to NYC” plan in place yet but I’m working on it. Tell me what you think so far:

1. Purchase straw hat, red gingham shirt, and one button overalls

2. Practice hanging onto my hat and gazing up in slack jawed wonder at the tall buildings.

That’s all I have so far but if I can just work in “befriend a street wise orphan and a hooker with a heart of gold,” I think I might just have a recipe for success!

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