Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuneful Tuesday: Love Songs

Today is Onkel Hankie Pants's birthday! So while he's off at rehearsal I will post a few happy love songs in his honor, and for Valentine's Day coming in just two days. The songs come from several decades but none of them is exactly "Our Song." Um, that would be Morning Has Broken...the Cat Stevens version was popular during our brief engagement. So we often get to sing it in church, which not many people can say, I bet.

1. Always -- Irving Berlin -- 1925. Irving Berlin wrote this as a wedding gift to his wife Ellin Mackay, and it really was a gift -- he assigned the rights to her and it brought her a nice income. I have three recordings, one by Gordon Macrae, one by a British orchestra, and my favorite of the three is by Willie Nelson. For anyone who has never heard it, here's a nice young man doing a very creditable job of it:

2. Exactly Like You -- Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields -- 1930.
"I know why my mama Taught me to be true She meant me for someone Exactly like you!" I really like the version by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang about the best of all, but here's an instrumental version made only seven years after the song was written, by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.

3. As Time Goes By -- Herman Hupfeld -- 1931. Ah, Casablanca, Bogart, Bergman -- what could be more romantic? Oddly enough the two recordings I have are by Peggy Lee and Guy Van Duser; Rudy Vallee had a big hit with it and then, of course, Dooley Wilson played and sang it in the film. If you have 15 minutes, you can go here and scroll down to hear the NPR 100 piece about it, which ends with what Susan Stamberg considers the "definitive" version -- by Barbra Streisand. Well, it's pretty good. But I'll go with this one:
Some people might say this was a sad song because of the context of the film, but I'd say it's more philosophical.

4. Two Sleepy People -- Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser -- 1938. You can't go wrong with Carmichael or Loesser -- the latter being OHP's favorite Broadway lyricist. I've always loved this song, in spite of the cigarettes, and my favorite version is by Fats Waller. But I also found this one which is different, but quite good:

5. Twilight Time -- Ram, Nevens, Nevens and Dunn -- 1944.
It seems incredible that this great song was apparently written by a committee! This would be the first of the songs that OHP and I can actually remember from our childhood, or at least I can -- it was a hit for the Platters about the time I got my first radio. Although the beginning of the song is truncated, here they are performing it in France that year:

6. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face -- Ewan McColl -- 1957.
Well, if we had another song besides Morning Has Broken, this might be it. Although Ewan McColl wrote it (for Peggy Seeger, his wife and Pete's sister) in 1957, and Roberta Flack recorded it in 1969, it was not until 1972, the year we met and were married, that it was released as a single and became a big hit, after being used in Clint Eastwood's movie Play Misty for Me (filmed on the Monterey Peninsula where we met). And here is Roberta Flack, so amazing, just as powerful as the first time I heard it.

7. In My Life -- John Lennon and Paul McCartney -- 1965
. This song speaks to how, when you find that one special person, you still love your other friends, but there will always be one you love more. Someone has made a nice montage to go with the song.

Well, I could go on, but I won't, This is enough for one night!

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