Monday morning, peeking through the bedroom blinds. Art Garfunkel and pianist Larry Knectal did 72 takes for the studio version of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the last of which eventually landed on the best-selling album. Above is an early version which has some different lyrics from the final version, and a lot less orchestral backing. While the lyrics in this version are a bit more filled with college-level angst, especially the cheesy “bedroom blinds” line, I like the simpler music arrangement a whole lot more, with less bombast than the released album version.
Ellie Stone’s version of this Jacques Brel song from the Off-Broadway play was mesmerizing, but here Geraldine Turner amps it up to the truly spooky and horrifying. And to think she recorded it *before* this week.
I wasn’t familiar with Geraldine Turner, but evidently she is a big musical theater star in Australia, kind of on a par with Angela Lansbury. She was the federal President of Actors Equity (MEAA) in Australia.
I recently posted John Prine singing his song “Summer’s End.” I ran across this cover done by Brandi Carlile who has performed with Prine in the past, and I’ve been playing it non-stop all week, so I thought I’d share it with you. The purity of her voice makes a nice contrast to John Prine’s growl.
Our friend of the blog, Dennis Mayne, wrote me and said that since I like tap dancers so much I just had to read Rusty Frank’s book, TAP!: The Greatest Tap Dance Stars & Their Stories, where she interviewed all the tap dancing legends! Well, I got the book, and for the last month every morning with my coffee I have been delightedly reading these wonderful primary source interviews with Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Hermes Pan, Shirley Temple, Ann Miller and so many more. Fortunately I was able to contact Rusty and we had a delightful interview about her book and she even gave me a little on-air tap dancing lesson!
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Rusty Frank as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
And let’s end the year with this amazing clip of Eleanor Powell tap dancing. What she does, just from a percussion point of view, is incredible. I recently interviewed tap dancer Rusty Frank, a tap dance historian and preservationist, and a tap dancer herself, who maintains that it was the tap dancers who moved popular music forward with their taps. The innovative percussive rhythm steps of the tap dancers were picked up by the drummers, pianists and guitar players of the bands who in turn shaped the new ideas in music. Watch and listen to what Eleanor Powell does with this George Gershwin song from Lady Be Good. It’s a long way from “Tea for Two.”
Monday morning, Carson McKee makes with the crooning, and Josh Turner futzes with his guitar, performing one of my favorite Christmas songs.
And here’s some cheery news. It seems the original lyrics to the song were much darker, but Judy Garland who sung it originally in Meet Me in St. Louis, asked that the lyrics to the song be made more upbeat. Songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane changed the lyrics to the more upbeat ones heard today.
But for fun, here are the old nasty lyrics. I like them better:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past. Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Pop that champagne cork. Next year we may all be living in New York. No good times like the olden days. Happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who were dear to us. Will be near to us no more. But at least we all will be together. If the Lord allows. From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow. So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
Nellie McKay stops the music to talk to her audience in a way you probably have not seen before. This was the first in-person concert she had done since the advent of the pandemic. It was an outdoor concert in a small field in a small town in Ohio. If you watch the video of the whole concert (see the link below), you realize that some have walked out, but by the end of the concert she wins the crowd back over again.
I’ve previously posted video of Sammy Davis Jr. as a child dancing. Here he is, later in his career. The opening clip as part of the Will Mastin Trio sure convinces me that breakdancing isn’t anything new. Later in the video, Sammy can be seen tapping with some of the other tap dancing greats.
I was led to Montreal-based singer/songwriter activist Louise Dessertine by poet Steve Bloom who had sent me a YouTube video of her singing her extraordinary song, “Put Your Red Dress On.” I was able to contact her and we had a lovely Zoom talk. You can listen to our conversation as well as some of her wonderful songs by listening to the radio segment I put together, which was broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica radio affiliates across the country.
Monday Morning, Mr. Wonderful, as Sammy Davis’s character in his first Broadway play was called.
If Sammy Davis were only a dancer he would be known as one of the greatest tap dancers of the 20th century.
If he were only a singer he would be known as one of the greatest male vocalists of the 20th century.
He was both.
Here he is with a song from his second musical, Golden Boy, from 1964, about an African-American boxer who falls in love with a white woman.
Paula Wayne who played Sammy’s lover, Lorna, in the show, said that when the time came during rehearsals for Sammy to kiss her, Sammy was very reluctant to do so. It was the first time an interracial kiss had happened on the Broadway stage; but Paula insisted that there would be no problem. She was soon to find out otherwise—the day after the show opened there were pickets in front of the theatre from white supremacists groups denouncing the show.
But the show ran for 500+ performances and had a great, under-appreciated score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams—probably the best score they ever created.
The heppest cat ever, Cab Calloway singing a post-Thanksgiving Song.
The song was written by Jeanne Burns who I could not find out too much about except that she was once briefly married to Broadway composer Harold Arlen’s younger brother, Jerry. In the thirties she was a big-band singer and also wrote songs for the Cotton Club revues.