Harry Warren and Al Dubin wrote it for the smooth harmonies of the Mills Brothers in the 1935 film Broadway Gondolier. Fats Waller popularized it with more spark and swing soon after, and Art Tatum performed a blistering yet tuneful version that same year. Young heartthrob Frank Sinatra crooned it in 1945, and 11 years later Mel Tormé crooned it some more. Thelonious Monk had a humorous take on it in 1964, while 1968 saw two wildly different versions from Oscar Peterson and an actual Lulu. Need more? Here's The Four Freshmen, Leon Redbone, and Ellis and Branford Marsalis. TV loves Lulu too! Sanford and Song on Sanford and Son, and Circe on the Justice League (voiced by Broadway singer Rachel York). But here's what happens when Lulu's back on Sesame Street. (With introduction by Mr. Hooper, Bob, Susan, Matt Robinson's Gordon, and a very orange Oscar.)
Ten Second Songs covers pop songs in twenty different styles: Linkin Park - In The End, Ariana Grande - Problem, Jason Derulo - Talk Dirty To Me [more inside]
Bing Crosby is something of the unofficial "classic voice of the Christmas season," but his most popular piece in recent years is the unlikely duet from 1977, the same year he passed away. The Washington Post provides the odd story of holiday harmony, how David Bowie joined Crosby at the piano for their duet, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy". If you like the classics, here's some Bing over the years: a fan-made abbreviation of Frank Sinatra's Christmas Show from 1957, Bing sings "White Christmas" in 1961, Bing & Kathryn Crosby take you on a trip to "Christmas Island" from his 1971 Crosby family special, and from his final Christmas special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas, Bing and Twiggy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." If you'd like a full period piece, here's an all-star 1958 USO Christmas show (program history and overview). If that's all a bit too sweet for you, let Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, June Carter-Cash, Jessi Colter, John Carter-Cash, and more regale you in the Christmas On The Road TV Special (1984).
To start with the beginning: Jack Sheppard was a notorious English robber who inspired John Gay to write The Beggar's Opera (1728). Two centuries later, the German composer Kurt Weill and dramatist Bertolt Brecht adapted it into a musical as a socialist critique of capitalism and the modern world: Die Dreigroschenoper. It was about to open when the lead actor demanded a song to introduce his character. It was this song that would open the play and at its premiere, it was Kurt Gerron who would be the first to sing the Moriat of Macky Messer as the street singer setting the scene. [more inside]
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., in a concert from June 20, 1965 at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis. A young Johnny Carson hosts, filling in for an ill Joey Bishop. SLYT.
In honor of Jim Henson's 75th birthday, let's celebrate bein' green: Kermit. Ray Charles. Kermit and Ray Charles. The Boston Pops. Lena Horne and Kermit. Lena Horne. Oscar the Grouch. Bob McGrath. Audra McDonald. Chuck Findley and the Metropole Orchestra. Shirley Horn. Cibelle. Frank Sinatra. Thurl Ravenscroft. Van Morrison. Sophie Milman. Andrew Bird. Big Bird.
"Smoke on the Water", as performed by Germany's military brass band and Berlins guard battalion, part of the farewell to German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. [more inside]
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
"Have I taken things from it for my films? I wish! They don't make 'em like that any more. I would love to, but I don't think people would buy that kind of 50s melodrama. There are sequences that are intimate, one-room scenes, but then there are beautiful crescendos, like the one at the end - he can deliver that too. Minnelli's sensibilities were perfect for it - the sensitivity and the bravado. It hits all the notes." Richard Linklater talks about Vincente Minnelli's great widescreen Technicolor melodrama Some Came Running in The Observer's "The film that changed my life" column. An often overlooked film, especially in the Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin "canon."
Ahmet Ertegun was profiled by George W. S. Trow in The New Yorker in a classic piece back in 1978. Ertegun was the son of the Turkish ambassador to the US and he remained behind in D.C. studying medieval philosophy at Georgetown. Instead of devoting himself to his studies he founded Atlantic Records with his friend Herb Abramson. Trow charted how Ertegun moved from tramping through muddy, Louisiana fields in search of hot new sounds to the whirl of Studio 54. Below the cut are links to the songs mentioned in the article, as best as I could find, in the order in which they appear. [more inside]
"The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear," Frank Sinatra wrote of rock 'n' roll during the time of Elvis Presley. But Frank wasn't stupid... he knew his relevance was fading and if you can't beat 'em, you have to join 'em. So in 1960, Elvis Presley was welcomed home from his two year military tour by the Frank Sinatra Timex Show "Welcome Home Elvis" special. Later Sinatra said, "I'm just a singer. Elvis was the embodiment of the whole American culture."
"Window in the Sky" is a YouTube style video synch mash-up done on a professional budget with the magic of copyright clearances. "It's a triumph of postmodern reconstruction" says the Washington Post.
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last." "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has had several rewrites since Hugh Martin wrote the original lyrics for 1944's Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland thought the song was "awfully dark" and Martin rewrote the lyrics for her performance in the movie. The penultimate line was "Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." Frank Sinatra called Martin in 1957 and said, "The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?' Sinatra's version, with its peppier lyrics, became a holiday standard. [more inside]
The Greatest Stories Ever Told (in Esquire) The magazine picks six candidates to be the best story from its first 70 years. Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" was their choice as the best.
When Bad Singers Happen To Good Songs: The Songicides! In today's Spectator Markus Berkmann amusingly raises the deadly spectre of the worst covers ever recorded. We're talking assassins here. I nominate Phil Collins's massacre of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "You Can't Hurry Love", as originally sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes; U2's goring of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", best sung by Sinatra or Ella and, worst of all, though he's my favourite artist, Leonard Cohen's mangling of Irving Berlin's classic "Always". What's the worst cover version you'd like to report to Musical Homicide?
The summer wind came blowing in... from across the sea. It lingered there and touched your hair to walk with me..." It's time to clear your pipes, stretch those cords, make with the air microphone and make a complete fool of yourself in front of your horrified monitor. Yes, it's Sinatra karaoke! From Italy! Just scegli la canzone e buona cantata! Start spreading the news...
The Chairman Of The Bad: "Brassiere! I dig a broad with no brassiere!"... Full of unreleased concert material and wonderful anecdotes, This American Life's programme about Frank Sinatra is still the most entertaining I've ever heard about The Voice, bringing out his worst as well as his very best. It almost makes you feel like catching the next corny My Way [Though it has a goodish list of his most lasting songs] or Rat Pack show. Bone up on the wonderful slang or take the Sinatra quiz. And, if you're still a bit of a stranger to Sinatra, perhaps the Frank-ylizer will lead you to a record appropriate to your tastes and lifestyle. No, there can't be many better ways to fight the Monday blues! ["Chairman of The Bad" is a 1994 Bono quote; Sinatra's "brassiere" adlib is sung to the tune of Ary Barroso's famous Aquarela do Brasil/Brazil. Real Audio req.]
Be careful how you sing "My Way" After being ridiculed for an off-key version of My Way, the irate singer kills one heckler and wounds another. Philippine karaoke bars have begun to remove the song from their playlists as this was the climax of several violent incidents when this song was played.
Now, I've never been a BIG fan of either Frank Sinatra or Robbie Williams. Sure, I've a lot of respect for the former, and the latter's a great singer and entertainer from the UK. But last nite, I was converted. Anyone see A Night With Robbie Williams on TV in the UK last night? (more inside)
These are TEST returns. They must not be broadcast or published. Except on the web I take it? It looks like the conspiracy theorists will put Bush on top, by 4 percent. It's kind of creepy in the "Brokaw doing fake Sinatra has died news spots"