Tag Archives: musical

49. Singin’ in the Rain – Gene Kelly – 1952

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Singin’ In the Rain” is a song with lyrics by Arthur Freed and music by Nacio Herb Brown, published in 1929. However, it is unclear exactly when the song was written; it has been claimed that the song was performed as early as 1927. The song was listed as No. 3 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs.

The song is probably best known today as the centerpiece of the musical film Singin’ in the Rain (1952), in which Gene Kelly memorably danced to the song while splashing through puddles during a rainstorm. The song is also performed during the opening credits of the film.

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24. Stormy Weather – Lena Horne – 1943

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Stormy Weather” is a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted KoehlerEthel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933 and recorded it that year, and in the same year it was sung in London by Elisabeth Welch and recorded by Frances Langford. It has since been performed by artists as diverse as Frank SinatraClodagh Rodgers, and Reigning Sound and most famously by Lena Horne and Billie HolidayLeo Reisman‘s orchestra version had the biggest hit on records (with Arlen himself as vocalist), although Ethel Waters‘s recorded version also sold well. “Stormy Weather” was featured in the 1943 movie of the same name.

The song tells of disappointment, as the lyrics, “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky”, show someone pining for her man to return. The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer: “stormy weather since my man and I ain’t together, keeps raining all the time.”

The original handwritten lyrics, along with a painting by Ted Koehler, were featured on the (US) Antiques Roadshow on 24 January 2011, where they were appraised for between $50,000 and $100,000. The lyrics show a number of crossings out and corrections.

Ethel Waters‘s recording of the song in 1933 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry in 2004.

Trivia

  • The first line of “Weather with You” by the Australian group, Crowded House, is “Walking ’round the room singing ‘Stormy Weather.'”
  • Lena Horne first recorded the song in 1941 for RCA Victor. In 1943, she recorded another version of Stormy Weather for the movie of the same name (which she made while on loan to 20th Century Fox from MGM). Horne recorded the song at least five times throughout her career. Horne’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
  • Horne was long involved with the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform “for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen” according to her Kennedy Center biography. Because the U.S. Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black U.S. soldiers and white German POWs. Seeing the black soldiers had been forced to sit in the back seats, she walked off the stage to the first row where the black troops were seated and performed with the Germans behind her.
  • Horne died on May 9, 2010, in New York City of heart failure. Horne’s funeral took place at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue in New York City. Thousands gathered to mourn her, including Leontyne PriceDionne WarwickLiza MinnelliJessye NormanChita RiveraCicely TysonDiahann CarrollLeslie UggamsLauren BacallRobert Osborne,Audra McDonald and Vanessa Williams.

17. Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland – 1939

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My favourite version – Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’oke

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“Over the Rainbow” (often referred to as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, and was sung by actress Judy Garland in her starring role as Dorothy Gale. Over time, it would become Garland’s signature song and, indeed, her theme.

About five minutes into the film, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get her preoccupied aunt and uncle to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). Dorothy’s Aunt Em tells her to “find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble.” This prompts Dorothy to walk off by herself. She muses to Toto, “‘Some place where there isn’t any trouble.’ Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…” from which point she begins singing.

Trivia

  • The “Over the Rainbow” sequence, as well as the entirety of the Kansas scenes, was directed by King Vidor, though he was not credited. The song was initially deleted from the film after a preview in San Luis Obispo, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer and producer Mervyn LeRoy thought it “slowed down the picture” and that “the song sounds like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard.” However, the persistence of associate producer Arthur Freed and Garland’s vocal coach/mentor Roger Edens to keep the song in the picture eventually paid off.
  • The song has been translated into Esperanto twice. The first translation was by Londoner Harry Holmes. The second, more recent, translation is by Pejno Simono.
  • In a letter to Harold Arlen, Garland wrote, “‘Over the Rainbow’ has become part of my life. It’s so symbolic of everybody’s dreams and wishes that I’m sure that’s why some people get tears in their eyes when they hear it. I’ve sung it thousands of times and it’s still the song that’s closest to my heart.”

10. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? – Bing Crosby – 1932

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“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, also sung as “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?”, is one of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression. Written in 1930 by lyricist E. Y. “Yip” Harburg and composer Jay Gorney, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” was part of the 1932 musical Americana; the melody is based on a Russian-Jewish lullaby Gorney’s mother had sung to him as a child. It was considered by Republicans to be anti-capitalist propaganda, and almost dropped from the show; attempts were made to ban it from the radio. The song became best known, however, through recordings by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee. Both versions were released right before Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s election to the presidency and both became number one hits on the charts. The Brunswick Crosby recording became the best-selling record of its period, and came to be viewed as an anthem of the shattered dreams of the era.

Trivia

  • In the song a beggar talks back to the system that stole his job.[3] Gorney said in an interview in 1974 “I didn’t want a song to depress people. I wanted to write a song to make people think. It isn’t a hand-me-out song of ‘give me a dime, I’m starving, I’m bitter’, it wasn’t that kind of sentimentality”. The song asks why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war (World War I), who tilled the earth, who did what their nation asked of them should, now that the work is done and their labor no longer necessary, find themselves abandoned and in bread lines.
  • During the malaise of the 1970s stagflation, the New York Times asked Harburg to update “Brother” for a new age, and he responded with: Once we had a Roosevelt, Praise the Lord! Life had meaning and hope. Now we’re stuck with Nixon, Agnew, Ford, Brother, can you spare a rope?
  • It refers to “Yankee Doodle Dum”, a reference to patriotism, and the evocation of veterans also recalls protests about military bonuses payable only after 21 years, which were a topical issue.
  • Denise Crosby, granddaughter of Bing Crosby is known for her role as Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for the recurring role of the Romulan Sela (daughter of Tasha Yar) after her withdrawal from the series as a regular cast member.
  • Seven years after this song, Yip Harburg captured the zeitgeist once more with ‘Over the Rainbow’, a wistful recasting of the American Dream – battered but still standing.