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

Posts tagged ‘Jerome Kern’

“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!

Art Tatum and My Sloth Procrastination = Productivity

“The Jazz Giants Play Jerome Kern” is the album for today. All the songs that I’ve heard on this album are so great it might have been difficult to narrow down the selection. Luckily You Tube did the job for me. I was hoping to play one of the artists I hadn’t put on the thread yet. Unfortunately there weren’t many videos of them so I decided to play pianist Art Tatum’s version of “All The Things You Are.” I’ve only played him once before I think. He was mostly blind and all genius. Fats Waller once called him “a god.” He performed the song on a 1956 duet album with Ben Webster but this is a solo piece.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with today’s video but I think I have found the perfect way to finally start checking projects off my to do list. Apparently I must declare a weekend of complete sloth in order to get my rear in gear. It seems my natural inclination to procrastinate works even when the task at hand is sitting and snacking. I got loads of stuff done this weekend trying to avoid the dreaded popcorn and a movie hell I had planned for myself. I’m totally going to write a best selling self help book about this… tomorrow, after I make some popcorn and watch a couple movies.

Jerome Kern Songs

Jerome Kern’s career started in the early 1900’s and continued until his sudden death from brain hemorrhage in 1945. Here’s an interesting Kern fact: In 1915 he narrowly missed dying on the doomed ship Lusitania. He’d stayed up late the night before playing poker and he overslept and missed the boat. He still left us too soon but I’m happy we had the extra three decades of wonderful songs!

Here’s trumpeter Clifford Brown performing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” It’s an absolutely beautiful rendition.

This is from the musical “Roberta.” I watched the movie version a couple of nights ago and, even though it had Fred and Ginger as supporting characters, I was not a fan. Almost none of the songs had anything whatsoever to do with the plot. They just stopped everything for a lavish musical number. Thank heavens they did. I doubt I’d have made it through the whole thing otherwise. Thank you Jerome Kern via Fred and Ginger for making this one watchable!


Next up is Sinatra with “The Song Is You.”

This song was written for the musical “Music In The Air” but it’s most commonly associated Frank Sinatra. They didn’t make this musical into a movie so I haven’t seen it. Folks may want to mark this on the calendar as the one and probably only time I have absolutely nothing to say. It’s just a nice song.


Michael Buble’ “The Way You Look Tonight” because I haven’t put any of the “pretty kid” jazz singers up in a while.

I recently watched “Swing Time” too. Now that’s a musical! This one I will buy. Anyone familiar with the movie might be saying “But B, wasn’t it you who, just a month or so ago, got your knickers all in a twist over Bing in Black face? What about Fred’s ‘Bojangles Of Broadway’ Black face number? What are you some kind of giant hypocrite?” Well I have a sermon on the subject. I’m a liberal and a minority. It’s what we do. But I shan’t bore you with the details. Allow me to summarize: It’s different. Oh, and yes, I am a giant hypocrite.


Next in line is “Nobody Else But Me” from the musical “Show Boat.” Here’s Dave McKenna with a really nice piano version.

I have never seen “Show Boat.” Shame on me. But I’ve found it streaming so I will remedy that soon. I’d like to see this number in context. I like the “love me, love my flaws” theme of the tune. After all, aren’t we all truly just searching for that special someone who will love us even after we’ve eaten the large combo burrito with extra pintos?


Last is pianist Art Tatum with “Yesterdays.” Live footage of Art is apparently rare so I’m glad this is on You Tube. He’s dizzying and amazing.

This one was also in “Roberta.” Art Tatum’s version may have the power to dazzle but Irene Dunn made the number lethal. In the movie she sang it to her aging aunt and killed the poor woman instantly! I never trust sopranos. I bet that’s why they named that Mafia show after them.

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