Clockwise: Helen Kane; Billie Holiday; Anita O'Day; the moon; Patti Austin; and Jo Stafford.
So just the other night, I was watching television when I got a phone call from my sister Kathy. With trepidation I picked up, fearful this could not be great news. She sounded excited when she told me "You have to see the moon, you just have to!" She was outside with her dogs, Tigger and Pooh Bear, when she saw it for herself. I couldn't see anything out of my window on a quick glance, so I grabbed my camera, just i case the moon was so very special, and went outside. It was a bright, full moon, to be sure, and I snapped a few pictures. In fact, the shots of the moon in this post are from that night. So when I was trying to come up with an idea for a post, I came across the shots, and it inspired me. So the following are all songs with the "moon" in the title, all written in the first half of the last century. And in the first clip, I bring you the oldest recording of the group, and the first song I went to when I had the theme in mind. The 1920s belonged to the flapper, and young Helen Kane was the epitome of that woman. In fact, she was the basis for the character of 'Betty Boop', both in look and in sound. In case you aren't sure about that, I say give a listen to her 1928 recording of "Me and the Man In The Moon".
And how could I do this post without one of the many songs that would fit recorded by the great Billie Holiday? In 1936, Billie had a recording session in New York City with some great musicians, and they all seemed to inspire the best from each other. So, with Jonah Jones on trumpet, Harry Carney on clarinet, Lawrence Lucie on guitar, John Kirby on bass and Cozy Cole on drums, here is Billie Holiday singing "It's Like Reaching For The Moon".
Next up, we have a song composed by Burton Lane, with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg for the 1947 musical 'Finian's Rainbow'. While there are plenty of great songs in that score, only one qualifies for this post. This time out, I look to the wonderful Jo Stafford when she was singing with Paul Weston's Big band. Here, from the 1958 album "Swinging Down Broadway", we have "Old Devil Moon'.
I also have to admit to having an unnatural attachment to the music of this next singer. With a song off her 1955 album 'This Is Anita', her debut release on the Verve label, I offer to you Anita O'Day singing "No Moon At All", written by Redd Evans and David Mann.
While I usually stop at four videos, I found it impossible not to include our final post to the group. While many might hear the name Patti Austin an think of some of the great R&B singles from the 1980s, like "Baby, Come To Me". And while her gorgeous voice might be just right for R&B, she is also stepping up and making some fantastic Jazz. In fact, she took home the Grammy in 2008 for Best Jazz Vocal. Here is Patti singing "How High The Moon" in a 2007 performance. The Jazz standard has lyrics by Nancy Hamilton and music by Morgan Lewis.
I hope you have great weekend, and when you look up at the moon, you are reminded of some of the great songs written and performed in the last 100 years. The five songs above are just a drop in the bucket of all the songs inspired by the lunar light. Find some to play on your iPod the next time you get the chance to relax and enjoy the moon yourself, or with someone you love.