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Mark Blackburn

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New favorite feature show on Channel 71

“IN CONVERSATION WITH JOE SOLDO” says the Siriusly Sinatra screen scroll. No Wiki entry for Mr. Soldo but his name comes up repeatedly as a "musician/contractor of musicians on great hits of the 60's/70's.” The interviewer asked a moment ago:

“Tell me about (working with) Barry Manilow.”

Joe Soldo: Well, he is all about the music: he knows all about the chords – the chords he wants in the arrangement. And it's ALWAYS fun working with him. I did a number of albums with him and it was always a lot of fun. A GREAT musician, who always knows exactly what he wants. He did an album with arranger Pat Williams – who changed a lot of his chords: Barry would come in and say, “No! – I want THESE chords! These are the chords I'm used to playing. I don't want these other chords.”

This by way of introducing Barry's take on a signature song from his Sinatra Tribute album

“Put your dreams away for another day . . .

Just one chorus, barely a minute and a half. But what an arrangement!

“Tell me about Pat Williams” (an arranging great who died two years ago).

JOE SOLDO: “Pat used to study – hang around Marion” (Marion Evans “swing band composer/arranger/conductor) “although he was much younger than Marion – maybe 15 years and he (Pat) became a really wonderful writer; then he came here to California. He did movies. He was a composer, not just an arranger. And he did a LOT of movies!

We hear Tony Bennett singing “Yesterday I Heard the Rain” – to an achingly beautiful arrangement (Williams or Evans? Tony worked with both). The song's lovely lyric composed by compatriot Gene (“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”) Lees. One of his best, you may agree.

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On learning Jack Sheldon has died

My Mom always said, "There ARE no coincidences!" This afternoon I was supervising two of my youngest grand daughters, Kaitlyn, who just turned five, and Adeline, now two years old. They were on the basement pool table, playing, not with the numbered balls, but with dolls, and the detritus of broken toys that somehow can stir the imagination more than 'new stuff.' You know how it is.

I had just shown Adeline how to operate the remote control for our Lionel “Polar Express” train -- how this button has Tom Hanks' voice saying, “All aboard! This IS the Polar Express,” and the other buttons that produce the steam engine whistle and the ringing of the bell. The light in her eyes! Her first solo flight!

I look over at the bookshelf where all my DVR and video cassette musical treasures are stored and . . . there it is: my all-time favorite music video: "JACK SHELDON – TRYING TO TO GET GOOD “a Penny Peyser (Jack's daughter) film.” I pick it up and look at the cover: “Compelling and Highly Entertaining” – said Leonard Maltin ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. "Featuring Chris Botti, Billy Crystal, Clint Eastwood, Tierney Sutton and many more.” And before little Adeline can call me back to reality (making the train run backwards) "How do I stop?" I'm already thinking: I have to play this for Irene – soon. Maybe tonight? (Instead of the new Downton Abbey movie.)

After waving goodbye to the girls (who blow me kisses as they walk to the car with their Dad, my son Aaron) I take a much-needed nap. And awake to the news that Jack Sheldon died (December 27 2019).

Just put the DVD into the dusty player and . . . immediately had to transcribe one of the opening interviews: “How I met Jack Shelton” and my “My unforgettable first gig with him as piano player” – by DAVE FRISHBERG one of my songwriting heroes.

“It was Los Angeles. I think the year may have been 1953 or 54. We are playing in the orchestra at Zardi's (sp?) It's a Sunday afternoon. The place is crowded. [The band] knew, in those days you wore a suit and tie – by the book: we ALL had suits and ties on and . . .

“Jack comes in, with a big Hawaiian shirt, and swimming trunks. And like, thongs on the feet. He's come from the beach: his hair was practically bleached by the sun. He was like a Golden Surfer Boy. And he is carrying a trumpet. He came up on the bandstand and played with us. I'll never forget it. I said, Who IS that guy? Somebody said, 'That is Jack Sheldon.'

“My first gig with Jack: I don't remember who called me, but someone said: Jack Sheldon wants you to work with him. What I remember most was when the gig ended, when I discovered my car had been towed away. And impounded. It was a terrible hassle to get my car back. So yes, I'll never forget my first Jack Sheldon gig. And, as it turned out, it was quite representative of all the gigs that followed!”

May I repeat, this is my favorite such music special on DVD “The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon: You may remember him as Merv Griffin's trumpet-wielding sidekick, or the indelible voice on SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK . . . Trying to get Good takes a look deep inside the eternally-dissatisfied soul of an artist who's not only just trying to get good on the trumpet, but in his life as well.”

The film's opening words, set to the sound of Jack playing Stardust set to early black & white home movies of Jack's wife – teaching babies in the neighborhood to swim in the backyard pool. Jack says,

“To me Jazz is freedom – a live solo on stage, to me it become validating: I become a different person, and become really valuable on stage; I become natural there. Like I am doing something really worthwhile. Everything else is just preparing to go on stage.”

They're not (yet) playing any Jack Sheldon on Siriusly Sinatra tonight. Channel 71 introduced me to my favorite of his latter day recordings – with the tightest jazz band arrangement of HERE'S THAT RAINY DAY. His vocal is artless genius. You think, Heck I could sing like that. Oh no you can't.

Listen again to the solo that begins about a minute in. To paraphrase Sinatra (in the original That's Entertainment film, introducing Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell's 8-minute spell-binding dance performance of Porter's 'Begin the Beguine') -- “You can wait around a hundred years and you'll never (hear) the likes of this again.”

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And I will love her – for life . . .
I will never let a day go by . . .
without rememb'ring the reasons why
She makes me certain that I can fly!

Just awoke today to my alarm clock -- Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio -- playing my favorite, latter-day composition (words & music) by Paul McCartney – MY VALENTINE. Loved his including it several years ago on his album of standards, and 'should-have-been-standards' – obscure but wonderful songs his father loved and sang to him when Paul was little. But I love this tender ballad even more today, knowing that only the “greatest composer of the latter half of the 20th century” is still capable of writing a song I believe Cole ("True Love") Porter would have admired. Yes, the 'most beloved Beatle' of almost 50 years ago, still going strong -- delivering 40-song concerts with an energy of someone half his age. Thanks, Sirius for this wake-up call today.

That's Joe Walsh – as featured guitarist (of three participating in the session) – and the singer employing Frank's own mic at the Capitol Tower in Hollywood. But you knew that.

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IT'S ONLY A PAPER MOON – a Sir Paul 'encore'

Just for me (I'd like to think) at this moment on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio, it's my favorite living singer Calabria Foti performing I HAD TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU – her late Dad's beautiful love song (words & music) to her Mom, – arranged by her good friend, the 'Dean' of living composer/arrangers (94 years young) Johnny Mandel. Calabria's father lived long enough to hear the recording; he died a few months ago. Wish it were at YouTube. Nope.

Minutes earlier, if to say, “I'll see you THAT one (by Sir Paul) and raise you THIS!” channel 71 played a second track from that same “Kisses on the Bottom” CD. The album has a sizeable Wikipedia entry. The melody a moment ago – Harold Arlen's “Paper Moon” – set to an ingenious, small jazz combo arrangement – simple yet brilliant harmonies, featuring a jazz violinist who evokes an earlier time when an uncle might pick up his fiddle in the front parlor and play to piano and guitar accompaniment. A fiddler who doesn't show his true speed and impersonates a more rustic sound. The harmony on the closing flourish is so pretty. Thanks again, Jersey Lou Simon for the all the joy you share. The 'live' studio recording is there at YouTube!


Has it really been a decade? From the Wiki entry:

The album was recorded during March 2010 at Capitol Studios[2][3] and Avatar Studios.[8] The album's title comes from the lead track "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", originally a hit for Fats Waller in 1935.[3][4] Said McCartney in the liner notes, "I worked with Diana Krall, and great jazz musicians like John Clayton. This is an album very tender, very intimate. This is an album you listen to at home after work, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea."[9] The disc was helmed by (the late) Tommy LiPuma The album is mostly standards, with two originals written in the same style ("My Valentine" and "Only Our Hearts").[4] "My Valentine", composed by McCartney, the first song released from the album, features Eric Clapton on guitar.[4] Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on "Only Our Hearts".[4][12][13] McCartney plays acoustic guitar on "Get Yourself Another Fool" and "The Inch Worm", but otherwise contributes only vocals.[14]

(The all star list of “Personnel” mentions the violinist, like a kiss, at the bottom)


Paul McCartney – vocals, acoustic guitar on (Get Yourself Another Fool, The Inch Worm), whistling ("My Very Good Friend the Milkman")[4]
Diana Krall – piano & rhythm arrangements except on Only Our Hearts
Tamir Hendelman – piano on (Only Our Hearts)
Stevie Wonder – harmonica on (Only Our Hearts)
John Pizzarelli – guitar
Anthony Wilson – guitar on (The Glory Of Love, My Very Good Friend The Milkman), rhythm guitar on (Get Yourself Another Fool)
Eric Clapton – guitar on (My Valentine, Get Yourself Another Fool)
Bucky Pizzarelli – guitar on (It's Only A Paper Moon, We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)
John Chiodini – guitar on (Only Our Hearts)
Robert Hurst – double bass on (1-4, 6-9, 11, 13)
John Clayton – double bass on (The Glory Of Love, My Very Good Friend The Milkman)
Christian McBride – double bass on (Get Yourself Another Fool)
Chuck Berghofer – double bass on (Only Our Hearts)
Vinnie Colaiuta – drums on (Only Our Hearts)
Karriem Riggins – drums
Jeff Hamilton – drums on (The Glory Of Love, My Very Good Friend The Milkman)
Mike Mainieri – vibraphone on (Home (When Shadows Fall), More I Cannot Wish You, The Glory Of Love & We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)
London Symphony Orchestra
Alan Broadbent – orchestra conductor, orchestra arrangement
Roman Simovic – concertmaster
Andy Stein – violin on (It's Only A Paper Moon)
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JACK SHELDON -- Don't Worry 'bout Me

The shuffle play miracle that is YouTube circa 2020 just sent this my way -- my second-favorite version of DON'T WORRY 'BOUT ME. As this thread nears its one-year anniversary, a trip back to 'month two' found that I'd celebrated this 11 months ago here:


Jack Sheldon (quoting Twain) My death was greatly exaggerated: Don't want to jinx my all-time favorite trumpet player (whose premature 'death' was reported briefly a decade ago) I just have to say a prayer that Mr. Sheldon is still healthy, happy and playing and singing in his 89th year.

After listening for . . . oh the umpteenth time in a week to Mr. Sheldon's speed-of-light rendition of HERE'S THAT RAINY DAY, the very next offering a moment ago at YouTube was this: Jack singing and playing a song our favorite singer rescued from obscurity, DON'T WORRY 'BOUT ME.

If Sinatra were in the control room listening to the very first playback of this, I'm certain he would have turned to the man (as he did once after the sax solo by Johnny Hodges on Indian Summer) and said, “My God, Jack – that's beautiful!”


Below the video a comment from a kindred spirit that is concise and profound:

Richard Condon
1 year ago
Nat sounded like his piano and Jack sounded like his horn.
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Bobby Darin -- my favorite version of STANDING ON THE CORNER

As I type this Siriusly Sinatra is playing my favorite version of Frank (Guys & Dolls) Loesser's best song from a 1956 Broadway show, “Most Happy Fella” – STANDING ON THE CORNER, WATCHING ALL THE GIRLS GO BY. In the show the song is sung in four-part harmony and that's the approach that was a hit for The Four Lads, the summer of 1956. I was nine, and I remember my Dad really enjoying the strong melody and memorable (funny) words.

The song has a Wiki entry but doesn't list Bobby Darin among the “other recordings.” Once a year Sirius plays it – just for me! Jersey Lou. I think I've celebrated this one before, but each time I hear it, another line makes me laugh. I'm old enough to remember when a 'Coke' cost a nickle, the summer of '56. Soon it would cost 7 cents; then, in the early 60's, 'one thin dime.' As he always did, Bobby changed the lyric just a little to make the song all his own:

Saturday … and I'm so broke
Couldn't buy a girl … a five cent coke
Still I'm livin' like … a millionaire
When I take me down to Main Street
And I review the harem
Paradin' for me there!

Love Bobby's decision to cut, to abrupt silence, the final “watchin' all the girls.” Never heard a song end that way. Used to think it was an error. But there it is today – on the “re-mastered 1995” version at YouTube (with 42 views and zero 'comments'). It deserves more, you may agree?

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On this date in Frank Sinatra history . . .

On this day January 9, 1956 Frank Sinatra recorded I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU. I can say with authority that our favorite singer was aware that this was “my favorite” of his recordings. In a letter dated

December 17, 1992

Dear Mr. Sinatra:

This letter may never reach you, but it needs to be written, because of the way I'm feeling right now. About your music.
I'm a 'baby boomer' 45 years old from a musical family. I live in a very cold Canadian city you may never have visited (and perhaps never will) . . .
My two-page letter, to which Mr. Sinatra responded immediately, with a thank-you note signed with a bright blue fountain-pen signature, concluded with these words (below) – Just as true today, 28 years on. (Still singing this one to my youngest grand daughters, who know every word and sing along with me!)


“My absolute favorite song of yours for reasons I can't really explain is 'I Thought About You.' Maybe it's the deceptively simple, elegant music by that genius who began life as Chester Babcock. Or the brilliant lyric by the century's greatest lyricist. Or the gem of an arrangement by my favorite American arranger (with all those train sounds, that have you swinging down the track).
All wrapped up in a song I never heard before – there's not too many of those! Oh hell, let's face it – it's the singer! The song wouldn't be what it is, without you. Merry Christmas 1992. Or '93, if this reaches you before then!
Best wishes for a long and healthy life.
Mark Blackburn
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

[A "remastered 1998" recording at YouTube]

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Favorite 'live' version of OVER THE RAINBOW

She was only 33 when she died of cancer – Eva Marie Cassidy. She didn't live long enough to know that her songs, released posthumously, would touch the hearts of tens-of-millions of us.

The English people were the first to really appreciate Eva: Her SONGBIRD black vinyl LP featuring “Over the Rainbow” sold 6 million copies in Britain alone, (where Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton were among her earliest fans according to a still-expanding Wiki entry).

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio just played her OVER THE RAINBOW – a 'live' recording uploaded to YouTube with “improved video quality.” I'm a guitarist and always loved Eva's deceptively simple but brilliant self-accompaniment (on a then-new American GUILD brand steel-string acoustic-electric seen here):


What made Eva Cassidy so special? “Comments” below this video convey some heart-felt insights:

Roger C (5 years ago)
I lost my bright and beautiful daughter to cancer at age 25. The day of her memorial service was one of heavy rain and gusty winds. But then a hour or so after I was home the storm passed, the skies began to clear, and in the East there was a perfect unbroken rainbow, and in the West, a orange sunset. Yes, it may have been a coincidence, but I want to believe that it was a sign that after a difficult life my "little girl" had reached a safe harbor. My wish for Eva Cassidy is that she too did the same. 01/09/2015

Call me Sully (4 years ago)
I've been everywhere on YouTube, and it would seem that nothing is sacred. Folks fighting in the comments, trolls everywhere. But when you go to any of Eva's songs the comments are filled with young and old, different cultures, different nationalities, singing of their praise and adoration for this amazing woman. We are all filled with a serene sense of sadness thinking of her early loss. We have all been moved to tears by her powerful voice dancing over these lyrics. And we are all brought together by this one amazing thing that we have in common. I can't help but think that's the way she would've wanted it. I wish you all happiness and peace, and hope that you will continue spreading her love through this music. : )

Wren Spence (2 months ago)
One microphone, one guitar, on one stage, with one stool and one incredibly talented performer! They will never be another Eva Cassidy. Rest with the angels Eva. You are one of them!

Brenda Wagner (2 days ago)
I’d like to think that this beautiful lady’s voice must’ve impressed God so much that he wanted her there in heaven singing for him.
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Favorite version of The Gershwins' SUMMERTIME (yours too?)

I'd just been thinking about Louis Armstrong's definitive recording with Ella Fitzgerald of SUMMERTIME – arguably the finest reading (my own all-time favorite recording by Armstrong) of the most-recorded song from the Gershwin brothers. I love that the lush orchestration retains all the haunting elements of George's original arrangement for the musical Porgy & Bess. Yes, The Gershwin's greatest ballad, elevated by this gorgeous duet: Ella & Louis's 'Finest Hour'? I think so!

Coincidentally, this day, an American musician friend reminded me of something music critic Gary Giddins had observed, in the award-winning (2001) Ken Burns documentary series JAZZ:

“Louis Armstrong did not distinguish between being an artist and being an entertainer,” something that tends to be forgotten: that the genius musician who, in the second half of his career, was routinely dismissed as “the square’s jazzman.” Armstrong “was a great artist.” Giddens wrote that Armstrong made it a point always to . . .

“ . . . entertain you. He wasn’t offering his art as, you know, homework. It wasn’t for credits. It was to have fun. He could be almost a vaudevillian and do a kind of low-humor routine. . . . He could joke with the musicians, with the audience. He could tell slightly off-color stories, and then he could pick up the trumpet and play something that would bring tears to your eyes. He did not distinguish.”


In the documentary On the Road with Duke Ellington (1967), Armstrong, who went to hear the Duke in concert, visits him backstage afterward. As they banter, Ellington kisses him, twice on each cheek. “I always come backstage,” Armstrong comments to onlookers in the dressing room. “Not for no particular reason, but” — here he folds his hands over his heart — “for warmth.” Hearing himself, he stops for a second and widens his eyes and then his whole face, a peacock spreading his feathers. With the back of his hand he taps Ellington on the chest. “Ohh! Dig that word.”


Google the words “Louis and Ella and Summertime” and this is the first offering at YouTube. Only three comments in the six years since it was posted, but 9.9 million (correct) views.

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Whenever I hear Frank sing "100 Years From Today" . . .

. . . a song by Sinatra's friends, Ned (When You Wish Upon a Star) Washington and Victor (Stella by Starlight) Young -- I'm reminded of something an American friend shared with me: he was asked to write words of introduction to an inspirational book about another mutual friend's daughter who died at age 20 of cancer. Michael Josephson composed these thoughts concerning 'What will matter' after we have taken our last breath. Would you agree?


Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned, or what you were owed.

Your judgments, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where you came from or which side of the tracks you lived on at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance . . . not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character. Not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.
[About that Sinatra song:  best 'live' in-studio video recording of A Hundred Years From Today -- conducted by Quincy with the cream of West Coast jazz musicians]
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Bob Dylan's Imagination

I was just reading a quote (or ten) from Bob Dylan when Siriusly Sinatra reads my mind, and plays perhaps my favorite track from Dylan's album of GAS 'standards' -- most especially those recorded by his life-long hero Frank Sinatra: in this case, IMAGINATION. My favorite track of his, because its up-beat charm is so infectious!

One of Johnny Burke's earliest hits with Jimmy Van Heusen, Bob Dylan puts his stamp on this one: Instantly I'm transported to a Western Swing bar in Austin TX and I imagine Asleep at the Wheel's guitarist/lead singer Big Ray Benson, introducing “Our special guest with us tonight!” Bob emerges, stage right, to a standing ovation. (I can dream, can't I?)

Is it at YouTube? Not that I can find. Hope this link takes you to Spotify. Two and one half minutes worth of 'Country Swing' at its very best. Some stellar musicians – especially the steel guitarist and whoever is playing lead on a Fender Telecaster (to my ears).


Oh yes -- the Bob Dylan quote I'd been reading the moment when this came on Channel 71:

Look, when I started out, mainstream culture was Sinatra, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Sound of Music. There was no fitting into it then and of course, there's no fitting into it now.
-- Bob Dylan

[That, and THIS:]

Nothing can affect my voice, it's so bad.
-- Bob Dylan
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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EVER HOMEWARD: Favorite Polish song sung by Sinatra [ ! ]

Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio this day played Sinatra singing a song in Polish --  just for me, or rather for my wife Irene, whose people hail from Krakow (Pope Saint John Paul II country) there is Frank, singing -- in perfect Polish, the entire first stanza of a pretty song titled EVER HOMEWARD. As if to say, "Here's one you never heard, for sure!"

On a personal note, 45 years ago, my Irene taught me some Polish phrases; back when Bobby Vinton had a hit record that began, (phonetically -- not Polish dictionary spellings) "Oh, oh, MOY-ah, DRO-Ghee, yet-chee KOH hum . . . KOH-hum, CHEB-yet SOW-em CERTZ-eh."

I asked the Wise Men at Sinatra Family Forum, "What is this from?"  Said my Irene: "Frank's pronunciation is perfect!"
"Andrew T" a "mentor" at the site responded with a quote from Nancy Sinatra:
Quote Originally Posted by Frank Sinatra: An American Legend / Today in Frank Sinatra history
JANUARY 31, 1982: Dad participated in a television special entitled Let Poland Be Poland. He said, "I'm not a politician, I'm a singer, but when I see people being forced from their homeland to seek freedom someplace else, it makes me realize all over again how grateful I am for the freedom I have-and how terrible I would feel if I had to leave the country I love. When the troubles began in Poland this winter, I remembered a song I recorded some time ago. It's based on a Polish folk song. I sang it in both English and Polish. If I were a politician I would probably make a speech right now. But since I'm not, here's the song. The title is 'Ever Homeward.'" President Reagan wrote: "An estimated 172 million people in 42 countries saw the production and some 100 million heard it on radio...It was a forum for the champions of human freedom throughout the world. Because of people like you who care, the message will continue to ring loud and clear."
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Gladys Knight -- BUT NOT FOR ME

I love a Gershwin tune – how about you? At this moment Siriusly Sinatra is playing one of my favorites – BUT NOT FOR ME. I've always been crazy about the singer Gladys Knight and she and a piano jazz quartet (supplemented by vibes) deliver my “new favorite version.” The lyric by Ira Gershwin is one of his best – not least for his wry observation about – what Kahlil (The Prophet) Gibran called “The Art of the Russians (is in sadness).

“With love to lead the way, I've found more clouds of gray than any Russian play could guarantee.”

Really, isn't this beautiful in every way? First comment below the video from a kindred spirit:

Sky Glider2 years ago
Beautiful, Ms. Knight, simply beautiful. Thanks!

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SEAL - Love For Sale

“Who's prepared to pay the price, for a trip to paradise?”

The father of my best friend in high school – I can remember asking him, when I was 17 (a very good year) “What is your favorite song?”

“Love for Sale” said Mr. Alec Officer. And I don't think he added a word about 'Why.' I remember thinking it sounded like a song about prostitution – but I'd never heard of it! In those days my family had LPs of Cole Porter's best songs, but that one wasn't one of them! And never since has anyone answered that question (I've been asking my elders all my life) with LOVE FOR SALE.

Sometime when I wasn't looking, Wikipedia included a tiny entry (still the shortest note I know for any of Porter's songs).

“"Love for Sale" is a song by Cole Porter from the musical The New Yorkers which opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances.[1] The song is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising "love for sale".

When the song came out in 1930, a newspaper labelled it as 'in bad taste'.[2] Radio stations avoided broadcasting it.[3] Porter took the song to the Cotton Club in Harlem where it was sung by Elisabeth Welch instead of Kathryn Crawford.[4] Popular recordings in 1931 were made by Libby Holman and by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians.[5]


In 1952 Billie Holiday recorded a version of the song.[3].[3]
Instrumental versions were recorded Sidney Bechet, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, and Cecil Taylor. There is a version of the song by Hal Kemp's Orch. & The Smoothies, 1940

Elvis Costello released a version of the tune, including the opening verse (prologue), on a Rhino re-lease of his album, "Trust".
Seal recorded a version of the song for his 2017 album Standards.


That most recent rendition by Seal was played by Siriusly Sinatra a moment ago. I'm a sucker for jazz sambas and this one is about as good as the sub-genre gets, you may agree? 

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The most 'uplifting Beatles song -- for personal reasons

Let's call this one, Mr. Diana Krall's favorite Beatles tune (mine too).

At a White House ceremony a decade ago, honoring Sir Paul McCartney for winning The Gershwin Prize, the “other Elvis” recalled his own Mom (the winter of 1967) expressing delight that a street in her hometown of Liverpool had been so honored in song. “My Mother knew all those places!” said Mr. Costello then performed his favorite Beatles tune. (Is it at YouTube? Not that I can find.)

Other artists must have recorded PENNY LANE – but I can't recall any of their cover versions. Like a great song by Richard Rodgers (or the Best of The Great American Songbook) you only needed to hear Penny Lane once-or-twice, and the melody was there forever in your mind's ear. Same with the lyric, which has an almost organic perfection – such evocative words. (McCartney wrote this one, words and tune. But you knew that).

The line I always reference when I sing it out loud (like a moment ago at our kitchen sink while cleaning up dishes) is about the fireman polishing his engine – “It's a clean machine.” In our home that's always been rendered “She's a clean Irene.” (The Blackburn clan . . . not so much.) I just sang 90 per cent of PENNY LANE to Irene who indulged me with: “You have a nice singing voice. You sing that well.”


Indulge me, please: The winter of 1967 my Dad was in London England to try to get a play produced. In our hometown of Ottawa, his comedy “A Button Missing” starring Rich Little, broke “50 years of box office records” and with friends as 'backers' putting up 20 or 25 thousand dollars (an immense sum in those days) Dad was off to London's West End. He quickly succeeded in lining up “The Third Man” TV Michael Rennie to play the lead role of “Drinkwater” an inventor trying to patent an artificial woman. But then Dad also had to find a director too. He did: I forget the name but he'd directed a comedy about the love life of flight attendants “Boeing, Boeing” and told Dad A Button Missing was “much funnier” and would be a hit. But days turned into weeks and Dad had to return home empty-handed. A measure of his integrity: he found ways to return ALL his backers' money.

I remember this because he brought me back one gift from London: The Beatles' latest hit – PENNY LANE. The 45-rpm “Parlophone” (no big hole in the middle – an attractive, factory-made insert instead). The only-in-England version featured a seven note closing flourish by the cornet player. You never got to hear that in North America. Just checked for the latest “remastered” version at YouTube and sure enough, it's the “American/Canadian” version, whose final seven seconds consists of 'feedback' – a single note from guitar or synth (or both). Pretty, but not nearly as nice.


“Why is no one talking about the trumpet solo?” asks a comment below the video. The un-sung English virtuoso is singled out in Penny Lane's Wiki entry. He left us nine years ago, age 85. He now has a Wiki entry of his own.

David Mason (2 April 1926 – 29 April 2011[1][2]) was an English orchestral, solo and session trumpet player. He played the flugelhorn for the premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams's ninth symphony and the piccolo trumpet solo on the Beatles' song "Penny Lane".[2][3][4]

Main article: Penny Lane

On 17 January 1967 at Abbey Road Studios Mason recorded the piccolo trumpet solo which is a prominent part of the Beatles' song "Penny Lane".[6] The solo, inspired by Mason's performance of Bach's 2nd Brandenburg Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra,[7] is in a mock-Baroque style for which the piccolo trumpet is particularly suited, having a clean and clear sound which penetrates well through thicker midrange textures.[8]

Mason recorded the solo using a piccolo trumpet in A (this uses a slightly longer leadpipe than the piccolo trumpet in B-flat, which itself is an octave higher than a standard B-flat trumpet).[9] Although such piccolo trumpet solos became almost commonplace in some types of pop, this was seen as innovative at the time and was among the first such uses: George Martin later wrote, "The result was unique, something which had never been done in rock music before".[10]Mason also contributed to several other Beatles songs, including "A Day in the Life", "Magical Mystery Tour", "All You Need Is Love" and "It's All Too Much".[3]

Mason died of leukaemia in April 2011, at the age of 85.
P.S. Google for Elvis sings Penny Lane at the White House. Lo and behold. At song's end, Mr. Costello credits "Master Sargent Mathew Harding of the president's own Marine Band on the piccolo trumpet!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSo-VFTq5PU
P. P.S. Google for "Boeing Boeing" and get this Wikipedia note about what was obviously a very funny comedy!

"Boeing-Boeing is a farce written by the French playwright Marc Camoletti. The English language adaptation, translated by Beverley Cross, was first staged in London at the Apollo Theatre in 1962 and transferred to the Duchess Theatre in 1965, running for a total of seven years.[1] In 1991, the play was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most performed French play throughout the world.

"Boeing Boeing (1965 film), American film adapted by Edward Anhalt with John Rich directing, stars Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis and Thelma Ritter, released by Paramount Pictures."

P.S.3 Michael Rennie played the priest who impersonates a German officer in VON RYAN'S EXPRESS. For any of you too young to remember, my favorite such movie about WWII has a Wiki entry that opens . . .

"Von Ryan's Express is a 1965 World War II adventure film directed by Mark Robson and starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard. The screenplay concerns a group of Allied prisoners of war who conduct a daring escape by hijacking a freight train and fleeing through German-occupied Italy to Switzerland."
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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I remember YOU, Diana Krall

One of Sinatra's favorite lyricists Johnny Mercer told fellow-lyricist Gene Lees (who wrote Mercer's best biography) that his favorite of his lyrical children was I REMEMBER YOU – written to a pre-existing melody by film director Vic Schertzinger (they wrote one other hit together, Tangerine). Gene (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) Lees considered the lyric a perfect poem – incorporating the vowel sound that is sweetest to our ear, rhyming as it does with our favorite word spoken to us, namely YOU (to borrow the title of a Mercer song from L'i'l Abner). Yes, through the song: “remember you . . . dreams come true . . . a few . . . kisses ago . . . I love you too, I do! . . . stars that fell like rain out of the blue . . . life is through . . . I remember you . . . “

My generation was introduced to the song by an Australian Frank Ifield who had a million-selling No. 2 hit in America recording. If our favorite singer had been holding off on recording I REMEMBER YOU, Frank Ifield's indelible impression on our minds might have had something to do with it – why Sinatra stayed away from what is arguably Johnny Mercer's best song.

Tony Bennett recorded the definitive version more than a decade ago for his ART OF ROMANCE album (arranged by Johnny Mandel, now 94 to Tony's 93 years young). And moment ago, Siriusly Sinatra played my favorite latter-day recording by Canada's other greatest gift to jazz – arranged by either Mandel or Claus Ogerman (the latter, I believe). From her album of two decades ago, Look of Love. To coin a song title, Isn't she lovely?

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Even if you didn't love Glen Campbell . . .

My guitar virtuoso hero, Glen Campbell copied to a 'T' Frank Ifield's million-selling (1962) rendition of I REMEMBER YOU – knowing how it introduced the song to my 'boomer' generation:  The same walking tempo, as well as the single-note yodels (upward sliding major 5ths) on each “YOU.” Glen Campbell -- entertainer that he was – knew how evocative this arrangement was, for millions of viewers who were watching 'The Tonight Show' that February night in 1988; Glen is introduced by a very young Jay Leno, guest-hosting for Johnny who was out with a “bad cold”).

I remember watching this appearance, and loving the artless virtuoso picking – by one of the greatest 'sessions' musicians who ever lived. This night he played a cream-colored Telecaster (Leo Fender's very first electric guitar model from the late 1940s).

Yes, to millions who were raised at some distance from the 'Great American Songbook' this was exactly like the ONLY version they'd ever heard! To judge from comments below the video, Glen Campbell's performance endeared this song to a new sub-generation of TV viewers. Give credit where credit is due.


[comments below the video]

Mickey Cook (2 years ago)
Never knew he had done this song..... EXCELLENT. Just heard this on Laura Ingraham radio show as she pays tribute to Mr Campbell

Charles Winokoor (1 year ago)
Having never seen this I was really quite surprised by everything: the song choice, the straightforward arrangement and rendition and the Telecaster. I’ve always had a soft spot for the song, which years ago I sang in (what else?) a wedding band. But I never even came close to yodeling!
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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Picturing a young Nancy Sinatra getting the joke -- same day Capitol executives DIDN'T. If they were sitting around a boardroom table chatting, they wouldn't have been paying close attention to the long-legged lyric, even while admiring the gorgeous arrangement (just listen to the opening orchestral flourish!) while half-listening to Frank's usual, impeccable vocal texture. Favorite stanza? No. 2

Your lovely face, in my fireplace, was all that I saw
But now . . . it won't draw
My flue has a flaw

Words by Johnny (But Beautiful) Burke -- to a really lovely tune by Jimmy Van Heusen. The album has a Wiki entry but no reference to this sardonic gem, except that it was a "bonus track" No. 14 on the CD. [Wiki says]

CLOSE TO YOU is the eleventh studio album by American musician Frank Sinatra, accompanied by the Hollywood String Quartet.

The album was recorded over a period of eight months and five different sessions, and was arranged by Nelson Riddle.

Nelson Riddle commented that the structure of popular songs does not lend itself to arranging in the true string quartet style of the classics and felt that he hadn't really achieved as much as he had hoped. However, when the album was released it received critical praise and as Riddle remarked, "Sinatra liked it!".[3]

For its CD release, the album was retitled Close to You and More, referencing the bonus tracks.


[Comments below video include this informed note]

bob07024 (3 years ago)
Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke wrote this song as a gag for a musical segment (Your All-Time Flop Parade) of the Bing Crosby Philco radio program of the late 1940s.
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DIVERSITY -- in color and gender, yes -- but not in political thought

A moment ago my son Ben, a very good guitarist shared an instrumental version of the Sinatra song the astronauts awoke-to, on the day of the first moon landing in 1969.  Ben lived in Japan, teaching English, long enough to fall in love with a beautiful student, "Eriko" and, to cut to the chase, they've given us 7-year-old Luke and 4-year-old Charlotte.  The video he shared is of a Japanese guitar virtuoso, Kent Nishimura.  
A propos nothing but what I was reading the moment this video came my way, I'd just made this note to myself:
Each time I've seen actor Robert Davi interviewed on TV I've remarked (to myself) on "the intelligence of his reflections." But never more than today, with this article Davi has just posted online, titled, WOULD FRANK SINATRA HAVE BEEN A DEPLORABLE? Mr. Davi recalled that,

When I first came on the scene as an actor in 1977, Jimmy Carter was at the end of his presidency and Iran was in the news constantly. DEATH TO AMERICA, hostages, and the left’s strategy of appeasement was failing.

Ronald Reagan was on the horizon to becoming President and fighting the establishment’s stronghold. In Hollywood, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese were the team every serious actor was hoping to work with. One big difference was the political scene in Hollywood. While many were religiously leftists, there were major forces that were courageously conservative and were not afraid to state it. I remember the absolute vitriol against Ronald Reagan by many in Hollywood. The difference was back then there were many A-list stars who supported Reagan, who was one of their own.

A force of nature, Reagan was called “a one man wrecking crew of the communist party in Hollywood” by actor Sterling Hayden, who was said to be a major communist sympathizer. Names like Frank Sinatra , Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne all supported Reagan. There seemed to be a balance of political expression.

Imagine if someone back then said “Frank Sinatra is a Deplorable.” You snicker, laugh, and say “but Sinatra would never have supported Trump.” I’m not so sure. My guess is that he would. Now I know many are saying “oh, but Sinatra would want open borders?!” Look I knew him, and while he hated bigotry and prejudice, while he fought for racial equality his whole life, he loved America and was outspoken about it. He loved Israel and would have supported the embassy in Jerusalem. Also, I can tell you Sinatra’s friends, his best friends like Jilly Rizzo and others definitely would have supported Donald Trump.

Why do I bring this up? Like Reagan, Donald Trump had strong ties to entertainment and Hollywood. The difference is there is no Sinatra watching Trump’s back today as Frank and others did for Reagan. While some of us are vocal, we are not considered “A-list” enough to shroud political protection. But we must try. I am a small David compared to the Goliath Paul Schrader — the acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter and director who posted a Facebook message on Wednesday in which he proposed the possibility of assigning his screenwriting students an assignment about a plot to kill President Trump.

Today we find a Hollywood and media that is the mouthpiece for the left, ignoring and disrespecting half the nation and the rule of law. Paul Schrader, would you have ever thought to have your students write a script on “The plot to kill Obama”? And if you did, there would be such outrage you would be fired from the school you teach at.

We are in a different America today. An America that is on the verge of being “fundamentally changed,” as President Obama promised. The sole obstacle for the accomplishment of this change is “a one man wrecking crew” in Donald J Trump, who, like Reagan, was hated by the left. The one difference is, as I mentioned earlier, there were those movers and shakers in Hollywood who stood up for Reagan. Today, those that might have stood up for Trump have been rendered silent for fear of repercussion.

As I wrote at Breitbart several years ago, the deck is stacked. So, we will continually see exercises like Schrader’s “plot to kill Trump” pop up by an emboldened Hollywood whose call for diversity lies only in color and sexuality, not thought or politics.

-- Robert Davi (1/22/2020)
[We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming . . . ]
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YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT -- JT does Rodgers & Hammerstein

James Taylor has just completed an album of standards – that includes one my father called “the best song about racial prejudice” – YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT, one Nancy Sinatra has included on her weekly Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio shows. James' new album 'American Standard' will be out on Amazon at the end of next month (February 28). His Facebook page sent me an alert an hour ago, and I said, with joy, in reply (quoting a line from James' own 'Home By Another Way' song):

“They tell me that Life is a miracle and I figure that they're right!”

“I'm a life-long fan of James Taylor,” I like to tell my sons and grandkids. Not quite true, of course, since James is almost exactly (his March 12th to my March 13th ) one year younger than me. So better to say, “Since my late 20's” – 50 years of feeling this same way.

Dozens of truly memorable tunes (like a Great American Songbook 'standard' – hear them once, and they're with you a lifetime) and of course, perfectly unforgettable lyrics that only James could have composed.

Oh yes and James' very best songs – like melodies by Richard Rodgers) feature wonderful bridges – those 'middle parts' – where the melody soars, in a new direction – providing wings for the words -- simultaneously peaceful and uplifting: Which is what all of us want most from Life itself, not just our favorite music (if we but knew it!)

Consider the moment in SECRET OF LIFE (my favorite, along with DON'T LET ME BE LONELY TONIGHT if I could keep “only one or two”). After referencing Einstein's theory about 'Time' (measured here on earth, not hurtling through space at light speed): “Now the thing about Time, is that Time isn't REALLY real – it's just your point-of-view, how does it seem to YOU

Einstein said he could never understand it all:
planets spinning through space,
the smile upon your face
Welcome to the Human Race!”


I love that James eventually included in his travels Winnipeg, Canada -- our city of 700,000 (world's coldest of this size, according to the U.S. Consular services). I'd pestered him for years about coming here (“You visited Saskatoon!” Why not us?”) My guitarist son Ben and guitarist grandson Thomas were with me for his first visit, a few years ago. (We watched, in envy, as he reached down from stage left, to shake a few hands, during intermission.)

In April I'll take five members of the family to James' next visit. Hope he will include Secret of Life again. Wish he could sing his more obscure, 'Home By Another Way' – my all-time favorite from his 'Never Die Young' album: about the Magi (“wise guys” in the Bible) taking a detour to avoid King Herod – the insight about how we can project 'badness' even onto those we love most. (From memory imperfect)

Home is where they want you now; you can more-or-less assume that you'll be welcome, in the end. Mustn't let King Herod haunt your soul -- or fantasize HIS features when you're looking at a friend.


Which is all leading up to tonight – learning for the first time that James will fulfill another of my dreams and do an album of standards – Broadway Show Tunes (This Nearly Was Mine) and Hollywood musical film numbers (Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat) most all of them personal favorites! In recent years I'd teased James on his Facebook page, that I could hear him putting his own stamp on such timeless classics – “as he did with 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' – you'd swear James Taylor composed that Gospel song!”

What little I've heard, for the first time this night – little snippets to tease us into buying “American Standard” – are warming my heart with anticipation. Thank you Mr. Taylor, for fulfilling my life-long 'dream album' of yours. See you in Winnipeg (if only from row 24).

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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You've Got to be Carefully Taught . . .

“ . . . it has to be drummed in your dear little ear . . . ”

My Dad was an award-winning playwright in Canada and, in the 'racially turbulent' 1960's, he wrote a drama about a white family who awake one day to find that they are black (a tanning-drug run amok). They're soon asked to leave their brand new neighborhood, by the property developer, who is Jewish, and must explain that he cannot live (isn't allowed) in his own sub-division. (He offers to repay them several times over, what their new home is worth.)

His soliloquy culminates in a recollection from his own childhood – as he closes his eyes and impersonates the screamed epithet of another teenager: “You dirty k*ke!!!” The silence in the theater was deafening, I remember -- the single most powerful moment I've ever witnessed on the stage. The play THERE GO I (as in “there but for the Grace of God”) won an award of some kind in a long-forgotten provincial competition.

Not incidentally, my father headed the 'Fair Employment Practices' branch of the Federal Labor Department in our hometown of Ottawa; I remember in those days Dad saying that "this particular song from South Pacific is the best ever written about racial prejudice."

A further aside: my parents were big fans of Rodgers & Hammerstein: On their second honeymoon at the end of WWII they were in NYC for the Broadway opening of their favorite musical (mine too) CAROUSEL – featuring Bonnie Raitt's Daddy playing the central character, Billy Bigelow. Just to come full-circle with this -- Bonnie Raitt is listed as guest artist for James Taylor's next appearance here in a few months.

Okay, one more synchronicity! John Pizzarelli is co-producer of James' new “American Standard” album which includes this one. John recorded his own version of this song in 2010. Alone in the studio with just his seven-string guitar, he plays opening notes and chords reminiscent of James Taylor, you may agree? “Prescience by Pizzarelli” let's call it! Bet James Taylor loved this version too.

Edited by Mark Blackburn
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I'm looking up my street tonight -- all dark, after everyone has taken down their Christmas lights; I'm humming one of my favorite seasonal songs, WINTER WEATHER, which belongs (in my mind's ear) to Tony Bennett:  from the first (of his three) Christmas albums -- the one arranged by a friend of my Dad's – Robert Farnon. Half the album was recorded in London at the same CTS studio where Sinatra's "Great Songs from Great Britain" was taped. Tony's version of WINTER WEATHER was recorded as a medley with Irving Berlin's I'VE GOT MY LOVE TO KEEP ME WARM -- a perfect pairing!

Yes, a lesser-known seasonal song, "from circa 1941" composed by two Americans – Ticker Freeman (words) and Earl Brown (music); Neither has a Wikipedia entry. Since the last time I checked Wiki, someone in England has enlarged the entry for this album, SNOWFALL, to include a photo of the original black vinyl LP cover -- plus a few entertaining anecdotes that weren't there before.


Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album is a 1968 studio album by Tony Bennett, his first Christmas album.[3] It was arranged and conducted by Robert Farnon.

Even though they had been friends since the early 1950s, Bennett and Farnon had not recorded together before, Bennett having such reverence for Farnon's work that he felt he "wasn't ready...(and) not developed enough as an artist to record with him".[4]

Farnon, who normally recorded in London, came to New York City for one of the two sessions that produced this album. Six tracks were recorded at Columbia's recording studios in New York City, and four in London.

In Bennett's autobiography, he recalls that the New York session was attended by such notable American arrangers as Don Costa, Marion Evans and Torrie Zito, all curious to see how Farnon worked. Quincy Jones subsequently threw a party for Farnon in New York City, and at the party there were so many famous musicians that Jones joked, "If a bomb goes off in this apartment, there won't be any more records made!"[5]

The album was reissued on CD in 1994, with new cover art and a bonus track, "I'll Be Home for Christmas", recorded during a live appearance by Bennett on The Jon Stewart Show. It was reissued once more in 2007, again with different cover art and including a bonus DVD containing excerpts from Bennett's 1992 television special Tony Bennett: A Family Christmas.
Bennett later recorded two additional Christmas albums, Hallmark presents Christmas with Tony Bennett and the London Symphony Orchestra (2002) and A Swingin' Christmas (Featuring The Count Basie Big Band) (2008).
Edited by Mark Blackburn
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TEACH ME TONIGHT – my all-time favorite version by James Taylor

[Just left James Taylor a note on his Facebook page]

My God, and I say it reverently – he's done it again! James Taylor has taken a Great American Songbook 'standard' and made it all his own. His arrangement has everything to do with it: I've heard dozens of renditions by great singers, but now, and till my dying day, I'll hear this arrangement in my mind's ear. Suddenly James Taylor owns this great song. Your ascending chords on the bridge (“the sky above . . . “) is such a fresh sequence – with a brilliant simplicity. And it's like these words were written by you, and not my favorite humorous/romantic lyricist Mr. Cahn. A bit of history you may appreciate:

Gene de Paul was working with America's greatest non-Broadway lyricist Johnny Mercer on the movie score for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” when he offered him this melody in need of a lyric: Johnny couldn't do anything with the tune. I'm guessing Mercer was stumped by the triplet notes at the end of each sentence (“near-my-love” “here-my-love”).

Gene offered it to Hollywood's go-to-guy 'if you need a lyric right NOW' -- Sammy Cahn. With Oscar Night looming now, it's worth recalling that Sammy holds the record -- nominated for Best Original Song 26 times; Mercer a distant second with 18. Each won four – denying each other, year after year, a record fifth Academy Award.

Thanks for singling out this one to share with us!

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DINAH SHORE – Love Is Here To Stay

Awoke today to the lovely sound of Dinah Shore singing LOVE IS HERE TO STAY – George Gershwin's last song before he died, age 38 in Los Angeles (while working on a film score). To borrow a line from his lyricist brother, Ira -- I've had a crush on Dinah since I was little – but never heard her version before this hour! Thanks, Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio. Set to a gorgeous jazz orchestra arrangement by the great Nelson Riddle. Yes, there is something about Dinah's voice – blending a gentle vulnerability, with deceptive strength and . . . something else that makes her vocal timbre instantly recognizable.

Dinah included the seldom-heard opening verse. The first offering at YouTube this day.


There is an expanded Wikipedia entry with a short list of great singers who helped define this song, including Frank's (best-ever?) reading on 'Songs For Swinging Lovers.' That, and expanded sad notes about tone-deaf movie executives:


"Love Is Here to Stay" was the last musical composition George Gershwin completed before his death on July 11, 1937. Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics after George's death as a tribute to his brother. Although George had not written a verse for the song, he did have an idea for it that both Ira and pianist Oscar Levant had heard before his death. When a verse was needed, Ira and Levant recalled what George had in mind. Composer Vernon Duke reconstructed the music for the verse at the beginning of the song.[1][6]

Originally titled "It's Here to Stay" and then "Our Love Is Here to Stay," the song was finally published as "Love Is Here to Stay." Ira Gershwin said that for years he wanted to change the song's name back to "Our Love Is Here to Stay," but he felt it wouldn't be right since the song had already become a standard.[6]

The Goldwyn Follies[edit]

Ira Gershwin recalled, "So little footage was given to 'Love Is Here to Stay' — I think only one refrain — that it meant little in The Goldwyn Follies."[1] Oscar Levant remembers the producer for the film calling Gershwin into a conference one afternoon and insisting that he play the entire score for a panel of attendees. The experience infuriated George, who thought that he had progressed past this stage in his career as a composer.[7] S. N. Behrman visited Gershwin a few days before he died and wrote that George told him, "I had to live for this — that Sam Goldwyn should say to me, 'Why don't you write hits like Irving Berlin?'"[8]
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DINDI ('gin-gee') -- Favorite Brazilian love song

Quick trivia question: What was the largest outdoor stadium crowd in human history? "On this date JANUARY 26, 1980: The largest paying audience ever assembled for a solo performer—175,000 people—gathered at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to hear Frank Sinatra sing (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records)." The singer's own recollection of this day, 40 years ago:


I had never been to Rio. My records had been popular there for years, going back to when F.D.R. was President, when they received our broadcasts. I had been all over the world, but for some reason, never to Brazil.

You know, there was an expression they used down there. When a young man was courting a woman, and things would get pretty far along, and the girl would put on the heat about doing something with marriage, the young man would stall her with, "When Frank Sinatra comes to Brazil..."

Well, when we did get there, a lot of weddings and babies date from about that time.

The day of the concert, it was raining. I kept looking out the window all day, wondering whether it would let up. But it kept on coming down. Not a light rain; a real downpour. And, do you know, the people started taking their seats at eight o'clock in the morning and they kept coming in, sitting there all day in the rain.

When we got to the stadium at night for the concert it was still raining—and I have never seen a place as big as Maracanã. It was a soccer stadium, of course, and there were 175,000 people in it. It was immense. They had a huge center stage with six wings, all miked, and while I sang, I had to keep running from one wing to another to each mike, until I was out of breath. But before that, there was a long walk to the stage and when I got there, and picked up the first mike, the rain stopped. At that instant.

Everybody gasped.

I looked up to the sky, toward heaven, and I said, "Thank You." They dissolved. Brazilians are a religious people, you know...

The concert went well and I was in the midst of singing a song I know as well as my hand when I lost the lyric. Just blew it. Nothing. I had been singing "Strangers in the Night" and when I stopped and couldn't remember how it went, the whole stadium started to sing it for me—in English.

I was touched...

The event came 13 years after Sinatra had recorded GIRL FROM IPANEMA and other great songs composed by (the man I call Brazil's Cole Porter) Antonio Carlos Jobim. My favorite track, with a lyric by a compatriot, the late Gene Lees who was present at the creation – in the studio that night at Frank's request. Lees considered this a high point in American music history. We may agree.

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