Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

A great melody first, then lyrics,(only) THEN 'vocals'

Collapse
X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • "Early Autumn," Music by Ralph Burns & Woody Herman. The song was a popular instrumental in 1948. Johnny Mercer wrote a lyric for it (on spec) in 1952.

    When an early autumn walks the land
    and chills the breeze,
    and touches with her hand
    the summer trees,
    perhaps you'll understand
    what memories
    I own.

    There's a dance pavilion in the rain
    all shuttered down,
    a winding country lane
    all russet brown,
    a frosty window pane shows me a town
    grown lonely.

    That spring of ours that started
    so April-hearted,
    Seemed made for just a boy and girl.
    I never dreamed, did you,
    any fall would come in view
    So early, early.

    Darling if you care,
    please, let me know,
    I'll meet you anywhere,
    I miss you so.
    Let's never have to share
    another early autumn.

    Mercer said, "I think it's one of my best lyrics. Not a big hit, but you can't tell the public what they like..."


    “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

    Comment


    • Mercer thought it was one of his best lyrics? Is there another rendition of the song. This singer does not bring a character to the song I can honestly say is enjoyable. The melody is very good but this singer's treatment of the lyrics is not complementary.
      - The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H.L. Mencken

      Citizens and Residents Of The United States and U.S Persons - USA PATRIOT Act Notice: You are hereby notified that under the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, you may be placed under electronic surveillance while viewing this or any other similar web site by intelligence or law enforcement agencies at any time or for any purpose for which they may deem fit, without your knowledge or permission and without the order or supervision of any court of law. As the provisions of the Act strictly prohibit, with fines and imprisonment, the managers of this site from disclosing such surveillance should it become known to us, you should assume that you are under surveillance while viewing this or any other similar web site, electronic mail or any other form of electronic communication related thereto.

      Comment


      • Try these...

        ???

        ???
        “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

        Comment


        • Johnny Mercer and Outdoor vs. Indoor Songs

          In 1947 saxophonist Eddie Miller of Bob Crosby's Dixieland Band wrote a nice tune he called "Slow Mood." Crosby's band had a radio show at the time, and Johnny Mercer, who was a singer as well as a songwriter, was asked to perform with them. When he heard Miller's tune Mercer thought he could write a nice lyric for it and it became a minor hit.

          Though it's not very well known today, I think it's a nice tune with a terrific lyric in Mercer's "down home, down south" category. (Others of this ilk include "Lazybones.")

          Someone once said that one of the hallmarks of Mercer's approach to lyric writing was that he wrote "outdoor songs," which differentiated him from Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and other New York City songwriters, who wrote songs about people in rooms: think Mercer's lyric for "Moon River" as opposed to Porter's "In the Still of the Night," a beautiful song which starts with the line, "As I gaze out my window..." Mercer's lyrics rarely involved people gazing out of windows, their subjects were already outdoors (a quality Mercer shared with longtime collaborator Hoagy Carmichael -- see below).



          "Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood"
          Eddie Miller & Johnny Mercer

          I'll tell you why
          the days go by
          like caterpillars do,
          and clouds are cotton blossoms in a field of blue --
          love's got me in a lazy mood.

          I'll tell you why
          stars in the sky
          pick ev'ry night to shine,
          and why the moon's a watermelon on the vine --
          love's got me in a lazy mood.

          When a bright and early sun begins to steam it up,
          you'll find me underneath the nearest tree,
          picking petals off a daisy while I dream it up;
          just the absent minded kid, that's me!

          I'll tell you why
          I don't reply
          to mail that's overdue,
          and why I never answer when I'm spoken to.
          It isn't that I'm really rude.
          Love's got me in a lazy mood.


          Many of Carmichael's songs were also set outdoors, including "Stardust," "Riverboat Shuffle," "Georgia on My Mind," "Rockin' Chair," "Hong Kong Blues," "Up a Lazy River," "Memphis in June," and "The Lamplighter's Serenade," and of course "Lazybones," "Skylark," and "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (all written with Johnny Mercer).
          Last edited by LCK; 05-05-2017, 09:45 AM.
          “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

          Comment


          • "Seems Like Old Times" 1946
            (Carmen Lombardo & John Jacob Loeb)

            Seems like old times,
            having you to walk with.
            Seems like old times,
            having you to talk with.
            And it's still a thrill
            just to have my arms around you.
            Still the thrill
            it was the day I found you.

            Seems like old times,
            dinner dates and flowers.
            Just like old times,
            staying up for hours.
            Making dreams come true,
            doing things we used to do.
            Seems like old times
            being here with you.


            Last edited by LCK; 06-20-2017, 09:35 AM.
            “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

            Comment


            • "This Is All I Ask," words and music by Gordon Jenkins.

              Gordon Jenkins was an arranger, composer, and pianist, working primarily in the 1950s and '60s. He produced albums for Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and many others.

              In the 1973, singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson asked Jenkins to produce his album of jazz standards, A Little Touch of Schmillson in the Night, a follow-up to the Nilsson, Schmillson album, which some say was a pop masterpiece.

              A few of Jenkins' better-known tunes include "P.S., I Love You," "When a Woman Loves a Man," (both with lyrics by Johnny Mercer), and "Don't Cry Joe."

              As far as I can tell, "This Is All I Ask" is Jenkins' only foray into writing lyrics to accompany one of his melodies. And the song is a masterpiece.



              Intro:
              As I approach the prime of my life
              I find I have the time of my life,
              learning to enjoy at my leisure
              all simple pleasures.
              And so I happily concede,
              this is all I ask,
              this is all I need:

              1.
              Beautiful girls, walk a little slower when you walk by me.
              Lingering sunsets, stay a little longer with the lonely sea.
              Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me.
              Take me to that strange, enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand.

              2.
              Wandering rainbows, leave a bit of color for my heart to own.
              Stars in the sky, make my wish come true before the night has flown.
              And let the music play as long as there's a song to sing,
              and I will stay younger than spring...



              Last edited by LCK; 07-02-2017, 04:49 PM.
              “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

              Comment


              • Thanks for this - I didn't know the song. It's a great idea he has conveyed in the lyric.
                'Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn'.
                CHARLIE PARKER

                Comment


                • Thanks for the feedback, OGP.

                  I thought it might be interesting to post another song by Gordon Jenkins, this one written in 1934, with a deceptively simple lyric by Johnny Mercer, who'd only been writing professionally for about a year or so.

                  Mercer said once that this was his favorite lyric. It was based on an actual letter he'd written to his wife, Ginger, in which he let her know how things were going while she was away. After he'd finished writing about all the "news" at home, he realized he'd forgotten the most important part. So he signed it, P.S. I Love You. Then -- as all good lyricists do -- he kept that title in the back of his mind until Gordon Jenkins came along with this lovely little tune...


                  "P. S. I Love You."

                  Verse:
                  What is there to write? What is there to say?
                  Same things happen every day.
                  Not a thing to write, not a thing to say,
                  so I take my pen in hand and start the same old way...

                  1.
                  Dear, I thought I'd drop a line.
                  The weather's cool. The folks are fine.
                  I'm in bed each night at nine.
                  P.S. I love you.

                  2.
                  Yesterday we had some rain,
                  but all in all I can't complain.
                  Was it dusty on the train?
                  P.S. I love you.

                  Bridge 1.
                  Write to the Browns just as soon as you're able.
                  They came around to call.
                  I burned a hole in the dining room table.
                  And let me see, I guess that's all.

                  3.
                  Nothin' else for me to say,
                  and so I'll close. Oh, by the way,
                  everybody's thinkin' of you.
                  P.S. I love you.

                  Bridge 2.
                  I do my best to obey all your wishes.
                  I put a sign up. Think
                  now I got to buy us a new set of dishes,
                  or wash the ones that have piled in the sink.

                  4.
                  Nothing else to tell you, dear.
                  Except, each day feels like a year.
                  Every night I'm dreamin' of you.
                  P.S. I love you.
                  P.S. I love you.




                  P.S. As most people know, the Beatles wrote a song with the same title many years later. The mop tops also sang Mercer's song, "I Remember You," in concert numerous times (music by Victor Sherzinger).

                  Paul McCartney contacted Mercer in the mid-1970s in the hope they could write a song together. But at that point Mercer was dying of cancer so it never happened.

                  http://mercerjohnny.blogspot.com/201...s-beatles.html
                  Last edited by LCK; 07-05-2017, 06:12 PM.
                  “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                  Comment


                  • In 1962 a musical comedy named Foxy was produced in the Yukon Territory (one presumes as one of the strangest out-of-town try-outs in American musical history). It was based on Ben Johnson's play Volpone, written in 1606, and starred Bert Lahr as the title character. (Volpone = fox.)

                    The show underwent revisions for 2 years and finally opened on Broadway in 1964. It was not a hit.

                    Still, some wonderful songs came out of that show, including "Way Ahead of the Game."

                    "Way Ahead of the Game

                    Lady luck, it’s goodbye,
                    hate to see you go.
                    Fireworks fill the sky,
                    it was quite a show.
                    I just want to thank you for the free ride.
                    Out of all the others, it was the ride.

                    Whatever happens from here on in
                    I’m way ahead of the game.
                    Whatever comes up, it’s heads I win.
                    Your kiss was my claim to fame.

                    I rolled a seven and locked up the store,
                    walked into the heaven, right through the front door.

                    Whatever happens from here on out
                    I won’t be sorry I came.
                    I’ve had the kind of adventure I read of,
                    I’m way ahead of the game.

                    We shared a fun kiss, he'll never recall.
                    But better one kiss than no kiss at all.

                    Whatever happens from here on out
                    I won’t be sorry I came.
                    Whatever happens, it’s just like I said,
                    oh, I’m way ahead of the game.




                    Last edited by LCK; 07-29-2017, 12:15 PM.
                    “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                    Comment


                    • Yip Harburg. One of the all-time great lyricists:"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", "It's Only a Paper Moon," "April in Paris," and, with Harold Arlen, the score for The Wizard of Oz.

                      He was also a mentor for many of the upcoming lyricists and lyricist wannabees, including my favorite lyricist of the period, Johnny Mercer.

                      Here's one of my favorite Harburg lyrics:


                      "What Is There To Say"
                      (music by Vernon Duke, words by Yip Harburg).

                      1.
                      What is there to say?
                      And what is there to do?
                      The dream I've been seeking
                      has practically speaking come true.

                      2.
                      What is there to say?
                      And how will I pull through?
                      I knew in a moment
                      contentment and home meant just you

                      Bridge.
                      You are so lovable,
                      so livable,
                      your beauty is just unforgivable.
                      You're made to marvel at
                      and words to that effect.

                      3.
                      So what is there to say?
                      And what is there to do?
                      My heart's in a deadlock
                      I'd even face wedlock with you.

                      Last edited by LCK; 08-03-2017, 09:25 AM.
                      “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                      Comment


                      • Here's one reason why I call Sammy Cahn a second-rate lyricist.

                        In 1953 Cahn teamed up with Gene De Paul to write the hit song, "Teach Me Tonight."


                        "Teach Me Tonight"

                        Did you say I've got a LOT to learn.
                        Well don't think I'm trying NOT to learn.
                        Since this is the perfect SPOT to learn,
                        teach me tonight.

                        Starting with the a-b-C of it,
                        right down to the x-y-Z of it,
                        help me solve the mysteRY of it.
                        Teach me tonight.

                        The sky's a blackboard high above you.
                        If a shooting star goes by,
                        I'll use that star to write I love you,
                        a thousand times across the sky.

                        One thing isn't very CLEAR, my love.
                        Should the teacher stand so NEAR, my love.
                        Graduation's almost HERE, my love.
                        Teach me tonight.


                        Pretty simple, right? And not a bad lyric overall.

                        Here's the thing, though (and some might find this a bit nit-picky), in the second verse the prosody is off. In this case how the rhythm of the words matches (or doesn't match) normal conversational speech patterns.

                        If one were speaking about "the mystery of it..." one would normally put the emphasis on the first syllable, not the last: the MYS-ter-y of it, eg., not the mys-te-RY of it. No one would ever speak that phrase with that odd emphasis.

                        Cahn either has a tin ear for such things or he just doesn't care.

                        It seems like a small thing but it's not. Great lyricists -- and this includes everyone from Cole Porter to The Beatles -- never make that kind of mistake. Cahn does.

                        Last edited by LCK; 08-20-2017, 08:15 AM.
                        “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                        Comment


                        • One Sammy Cahn song Frank almost didn't record (till late in life)
                          In 1953 Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer were working on songs for the movie SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (released the next year with additional music by Saul Chaplin). During a break, Gene shared with Johnny a melody in need of a lyric -- for what Gene hoped might be a popular hit song based on the idea of 'Teach Me' (how to make love). Johnny Mercer was unable to come up with any words that would fit the unusual cadences of the melody; in particular (I believe) the triplet ending of notes to each line of the verse, that left him stumped.

                          So Gene de Paul contacted the un-stumpable Sammy Cahn who immediately asked “How much?” (I just made that last part up, based on the anecdote that Sammy used to say, in answer to the age old question of “Which comes first, melody or lyric?” Sammy's only half-joking reply and speaking for himself, what always came first is “The cheque”.

                          Sammy was far and away the best lyric writer for “Songs we need right now" for movies: He was nominated more than two dozen times for the 'Best Original Song' Academy Award (no other song writer is even close to his record). Sammy won four Oscars, a record he shared with his friend . . . Johnny Mercer!

                          The song Mercer couldn't write a lyric-for was TEACH ME TONIGHT. I just checked Wikipedia for a list of important singers who treasured this song. The entry begins with

                          . . . published in 1953.

                          Cahn wrote a new verse for Frank Sinatra's 1984 recording on L.A. Is My Lady.

                          Five versions charted in 1954 and 1955, namely:[2]
                          Janet Brace was apparently first, making the Billboard chart on October 23, 1954, and eventually reaching No. 23.
                          Jo Stafford - No. 15 in 1954
                          Dinah Washington - an R&B hit in 1954, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999
                          Helen Grayco - No. 29 in 1954
                          The DeCastro Sisters - No. 2 in 1955

                          Wiki's partial list of artists who delighted in recording amounts to a Who's Who of singers:

                          Nat King Cole - single release (1954)[3]
                          Sammy Davis Jr. - Our Shining Hour (1965)
                          Aretha Franklin - Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics (2014)
                          Erroll Garner - (instrumental) Concert by the Sea (1955)[4]
                          Al Jarreau - Breakin' Away (1981)
                          Count Basie - Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings (1955)
                          Steve Lawrence - Winners! (1963)[5]
                          Brenda Lee - This Is...Brenda (1960)
                          Peggy Lee - Sugar 'n' Spice (1962)
                          The Mills Brothers - The Mills Brothers – Sing Beer Barrel Polka and Other Golden Hits (1962)[6]
                          Liza Minnelli - Live from Radio City Music Hall (1992)
                          Anne Murray - Croonin' (1993)
                          Patti Page - From Nashville to L.A.: Lost Columbia Masters 1962-1969[7]
                          Louis Prima and Keely Smith - Together (1960)[8]
                          Johnnie Ray - Til Morning (1958)[9]
                          Cliff Richard - Bold as Brass (2010)
                          Anne Shelton - single release (1954)[10]
                          Phoebe Snow - It looks Like Snow (1976)
                          Sarah Vaughan - single release (1960)[11]
                          Nancy Wilson - Something Wonderful (1960)
                          Blossom Dearie . . .

                          ----

                          I know of no written source for the extra stanza Sammy wrote for Frank intended for the 'L.A. Is My Lady' album that wasn't included originally (Frank wasn't satisfied with his vocal) but given a Torrie Zito arrangement it was as a bonus track on a more recent version of that album. So, I just transcribed Sammy's additional stanza customized for Frank. Wonder how many minutes (or seconds?) it took for Sammy to write these words . . .

                          I've played love scenes in a flick-or-two
                          And I also [pause] 'met' a chick-or-two
                          But I still can learn a trick-or-two!
                          Teach me tonight.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZclMFfZmXfY

                          A good friend in Boston provided a foot 'note-or-two'

                          The new lyrics by Sammy Cahn include much more than the three lines Mark quoted—everything from those to the “post-graduate…articulate…matriculate” verse at the end of the song.

                          Written source: —> Todd Peach's Sammy Cahn Lyrics Page

                          Frank mentions Sammy’s special contribution in the intro to this live version (and he sings those final rhymes in a different order), two months after the album recording:

                          —> Teach Me Tonight (Live At Carnegie Hall, New York /1984), a song by Frank Sinatra on Spotify

                          "What I need most is post grad-u-ATE,
                          what I feel is hard to articulate:
                          If you want me to matriculate,
                          you'd better teach me tonight
                          (What do you get for lessons?)
                          Teach me . . .
                          Come on and teach me -- tonight.
                          Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 12-11-2018, 06:14 PM.

                          Comment


                          • LCK
                            LCK commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Hi Mark! Nice to hear from you again,

                            But I still think this lyric is second rate because of the prosody problem, which is probably why Mercer had a problem with the tune! He was much more meticulous about such things than Cahn was.

                            The fact is, a person talking would never say "the mys-ter-RY of it." They would say, "the MYS-ter-ry of it." Lyrics are supposed to be sung conversation, something Cahn failed at time after time.
                            Last edited by LCK; 12-12-2018, 01:48 PM.

                        • Oscar Hammerstein (he wrote important Broadway musicals with Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern) once expressed the belief that each of us may have "one good song" within us, waiting to "come out into the light." Shortly before his death in 1960 Oscar wrote that,

                          "If I meet a man with just one song, I'd be more interested in that man than those who have 'written 400.' I believe that anyone who stated sincerely what was in his heart, could not only write a song, but get it published, because it would be sure to be a good song."

                          "The most important ingredient in a good song," wrote Hammerstein, "is sincerity: Let the song be yours and yours alone. However important, however trivial, believe it. Mean it from the bottom of your heart, and say what is on your mind as carefully, as clearly, as beautifully as you can. Show it to no one until you are certain you cannot make one change that would improve it. After that, however, be willing to make improvements if someone can convince you they are needed."


                          Comment


                          • A 60th anniversary "stereo edition" of my all-time favorite album of ballads, SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY has been issued. More than a decade ago I reviewed this one for Amazon.com -- referencing the future father of two of my (eight) grandchildren, back when they were just a gleam in his eye, as Mom used to say. What I wrote then, I still feel now.

                            ------

                            I like to make friends laugh, but like the proverbial clown who is 'crying on the inside' (and as the singer is depicted here on the original album cover) -- I feel most in tune with life's poignant moments . . . the ones cynics like me usually dismiss as 'wallowing in self-pity.'

                            I've identified with Johnny Mercer's protagonist in "One For My Baby" since I first saw Frank Sinatra perform it on black and white TV, 45 years ago. But it's the Sammy Cahn classics on this album -- especially the title track --- that resonate, most deeply in my heart.

                            I close my eyes and listen in amazement to what many consider the single most beautiful ballad-recording Frank Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle ever created together --- Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne's "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry." I listen and see in my mind's eye the girl who broke my heart, in that 'very good year, when I was 21.'

                            Shortly after my youngest son (now teaching English in Japan and in love again) had his heart broken for the first time, he "discovered" his favorite Sinatra recording, among his dad's CDs -- "Only the Lonely."

                            Like his father, he prefers up-tempo Sinatra -- and singles out "I Thought About You" as his favorite 'swing' tune (mine too). But "Only the Lonely" he considers the "best song about lost love." (We agree on so few things!)

                            The same version of this song, on the 3-CD "Capitol Years" box set, opens with an additional 25 seconds of Sinatra giving expert instruction to Felix Slatkin -- who actually conducted the Riddle orchestra, that night of May 29, 1958.

                            The heartfelt liner notes, penned by Pete Welding, seem to speak to me personally. And the frustrated song writer within me, identifies with composer and lyricist as the two collaborators recalled, "attempting to write (this) song of loneliness for Frank Sinatra -- the challenge of matching words with notes."

                            "The melody came first," said Jimmy Van Heusen. "The lyric came very hard; session after session without the glimmer of a line. Sammy is as facile a man with words as there is in our business and I wanted to change the melody here and there to be helpful. He wouldn't permit me to change a note."

                            Said Sammy Cahn: "(It's) one of the best melodies Jimmy ever composed (and) I'm delighted now the melody is exactly as I first heard it."

                            Sinatra once singled out this album as his personal favorite, among those he recorded for Capitol. It is mine. Perhaps it'll be yours too?

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLCU...q2KNrjufZOKj4_

                            Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 01-11-2019, 08:06 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Yeah, Cahn got that one right... (except for "some little small cafe...") which is redundant.
                              “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X