Saturday, June 22, 2013

With Love, From (Irving) Berlin...

Maxine Sullivan photo maxine-sullivan_zpsba9ad7da.jpg Rosemary Clooney photo Rosemaryclooney_zpsca6a8082.jpg
Dinah Shore photo DinahShore_zps1dbe3795.jpg Jo Stafford photo jo-stafford_zps68eb7446.jpg
Clockwise: Maxine Sullivan, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford and Dinah Shore.

I decided I wanted to hear some of the music of Irving Berlin tonight, and thought his love songs would be fun. Berlin is best known for his rousing uptempo songs, and his patriotic numbers. But he was no stranger to the ballad, having written some beautiful ones for Broadway and Hollywood musicals. The first song I have on the list is the beautiful "Blue Skies", written in 1926, a last-minute 'fix' for the Rodgers and Hart musical, 'Betsy'. While the show didn't survive, the song definitely did. The song went from a song in a Broadway flop to a great addition to the Great American Songbook, with some great versions sung by many artists. I decided to go with a version by Maxine Sullivan, a wonderful singer who paved the way for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. Many considered her the greatest Jazz singer of the 1930s. Here is her version of "Blue Skies", recorded in 1937.

The next song was written as a duet, and comes from a Broadway show that was also a hit movie musical. "You're Just In Love" was written in 1950, and first performed by Ethel Merman and Russell Nype in 'Call Me Madam' on Broadway. Rosemary Clooney and Guy Mitchell recorded the song at the end of 1950, and it became a Top 40 hit. Berlin wrote the song with a charming counterpoint style, with the two parts of the song seemingly at different tempos, yet they blend together beautifully.

"You Keep Coming Back Like A Song" was written by Berlin for the 1946 film 'Blue Skies', and was introduced by Bing Crosby. Like much of Berlin's music, the song went on to be recorded by many, so I had plenty from which to choose. I decided to go with Dinah Shore's lovely version, released in 1946. In the recording, Shore has such lovely tone and control, so please enjoy Dinah singing "You Keep Coming Back Like A Song".

The next song was from the 1949 Broadway production of 'Miss Liberty', a musical written about the wonderful gift from the French, the Statue of Liberty. "(Just One Way To Say) I Love You" is the song that closed the first act, and it is a beautiful one. So lovely, it caught the eye of the talented Jo Stafford, who released it in 1949. The song was a hit, making it to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Of course, Stafford was a popular singer, being the first woman to have a #1 song on the UK music charts. So please enjoy Jo as she sings "(Just One Way To Say) I Love You".

Have a great weekend!

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