Happy St. Patrick's Day
In honor of the holiday, here again is a video I particularly like from The Muppet Show, and post each year. So, pull up a beer, grab a shillelagh, and raise your voices high, as once more we join in with The Leprechaun Brothers...
Another New Rainbow
Randy Rainbow has a new song parody out (or more accurately, "parodies," since he blends a couple). The lyrics are a lot of fun, and it's an especially-good production. For a very easy, but highly deserving target.
Adler and Ross Redux
After sending a link to a friend for that Phil Silvers production of Damn Yankees I posted here the other day, it got us into a discussion of the team who wrote the score, Composer Richard Adler and lyricist Jerry Ross. They have a very interesting and unfortunate story. They wrote two shows together – both of which were massive hits. Damn Yankees was their second show, written only a year after having written The Pajama Game. Both shows ran over 1,000 performances. And then very sadly, only a few months after Damn Yankees opened, Jerry Ross died at only age 29.
Richard Adler wrote a few shows on his own. One was Kwamina, a very different show from his others. It takes place in Africa with a largely black cast about an interracial love affair. It had a respectable cast lead by Sally Ann Howes, Brock Peters and Terry Carter (who later who co-star opposite Dennis Weaver as his partner in the series McCloud.) The score is not particularly Broadway-ish, but tries to have a native sound. (I have the album. For my taste, it’s only fair.) The show flopped, just 32 performances. Adler also wrote a flop musical with Will Holt. And I have the album of a musical he wrote for TV, about Greek gods, Olympus 7-0000. Again, not a score I especially like.
He did, however, have a hit song that he wrote with another lyricist for Doris Day, “Everybody Loves a Lover”. When I was a kidling, I remember that we had a copy around the house and enjoying it, though I of course had no idea who wrote it. It’s light and frothy, and interestingly is significantly more in the style of Adler's work with Jerry Ross -- so much so, in fact, that it sounds like something that could have been in The Pajama Game. Some of you may know it. If not, here it is –
The Movies Rides Again
The past few years, on the day of the Oscars, I wrote the following, about a quest I've been on.
A long while back, I was on a mini-mission to get the Motion Picture Academy to open their Oscar broadcast with a particularly wonderful song that, though it had a bit of shelf-life in country music (reaching #10 on the country charts), I figured they wouldn't know. I actually came close -- not to accomplishing my task, but having access to making the suggestion -- when my former boss at Universal Studios, Bob Rehme, was year later made president of the Academy. Alas, I didn't have the contact information that would have helped and didn't make the effort -- which probably wouldn't have been too difficult, even it was before Google searches -- to track it down (hence never getting beyond being just a "mini-mission").
The idea time has long-since passed, since the group who sang the song, the Statler Brothers, have retired, and also some of the references in the song -- while many are still classic -- aren't all likely as impactful on today's audience. Still, it's a very fun song, and would make an thoroughly enjoyable number in the middle of the broadcast, sung by a cobbled-together group of movie stars singing. And classic movies are just that – classic.
(Hey, the Statlers themselves could even come out of retirement. They did briefly a few years back for an event when elected into a country music Hall of Fame.)
But no, it's not likely to happen. But that doesn't stop me from at least presenting the song on the day of the Oscar broadcast. So, here it is -- one of the most affectionate tributes and truly clever songs I've heard about movies. And it fits perfectly into the portfolio of "list" songs that the Statlers were so well-known for, over a career that began with “Flowers on the Wall, written by the group’s Lew DeWitt…who, as it happens, wrote this song, as well.
Indeed, the name of the song is "The Movies."
As a bonus, this below is my favorite version of the song, though it's performed a bit faster than the one above -- and unless you've heard the song as many times as I have, it may be hard to make out all the words. But the reason it's my favorite, and why I want to include it here, is because it performed by all the original Statlers, including Lew DeWitt who, as I mentioned, wrote the song and has a wonderful, unique voice. However, he had to retire from the group for health reasons and later passed away. He's the fellow on your far right, with the guitar and wearing tinted glasses.
Today's Piano Puzzler
This week's contestant is Beatrice "Bee" Newman from Kapaa, Hawaii. As for the hidden song, I didn’t have a clue. It’s hugely well-known, but I found it deeply very well-hidden, even when I knew what it was and composer Bruce Adolphe played it again. Though host Fred Child got it, so it’s clearly guessable. I didn’t get the composer style either, though at least it was the same guess as the contestant, and as Bruce Adolph said, “You couldn’t have been closer.” But it doesn’t count.
Wild About Harry
This a joyous find. It’s from Nat King Cole’s short-lived (though ground-breaking) TV show in 1956, and features a tribute to the great, but little-known composer Harry Warren – along with an appearance by Warren himself, chatting with the host.
If you don’t know Harry Warren, you know some of his songs. Probably many. He won three Oscars for Best Song and was nominated 11 times. He wrote the score to 42nd Street (which included “Lullaby of Broadway, that won the Oscar, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” and the title song), as well as such other songs as (are you ready?) -- "I Only Have Eyes for You", "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby", "Jeepers Creepers", "We’re in the Money,” “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" (which also won a Best Song Oscar), "That's Amore," "The More I See You" (that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had a big hit with), and "Chattanooga Choo Choo,” which became the first gold record ever.
As I said, I’m sure you know many of his songs. And so it was great fun seeing him on the Nat King Cole TV show.
I also have a person appreciation with Harry Warren that has pretty much no connection to reality. But the screenplay I wrote, which had finished second in the Lucille Ball Comedy Screenwriting Contest at UCLA, and which is what got me into the Writers Guild was titled, Harry Warren of the Mounties. I honestly don’t remember why I called it that – I don’t think it was an homage to the songwriter, and was just happenstance. But I don’t know. And I like the connection regardless.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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