Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tinseltown Torch

Ella Fitzgerald photo ella-fitzgerald_zpsaeb15ee3.jpg Billie Holiday photo Billie-Holiday_zps4535609a.jpg
Linda Ronstadt photo LindaRonstadt_zpsdf11001d.jpg Aretha Franklin photo Aretha_Franklin_zps197e1a9e.jpg
Clockwise: Ella Fitzgerald; Billie Holiday; Aretha Franklin; and Linda Ronstadt.

Tonight I thought I would pick some amazing songs I first heard in films coming out of Hollywood. Much of my early music education came from the black and white movies I watched when I could, featuring the greats of the business like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Ann Miller, and just so many other talented artists. I will begin with "Isn't It Romantic", a song composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Lorenz Hart. It was introduced in the 1932 film 'Love Me Tonight', sung by Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. For tonight, I offer a version by Ella Fitzgerald, recorded in 1957. This is Ella's "Isn't It Romantic".

The next song was written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931, but it wasn't really known until it appeared in a film in 1942. When pianist Sam played and sang "As Time Goes By" in the bar in 'Casablanca', the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, it became an instant classic. Sam, played by Paul Dooley, delivered the song perfectly, a perfect theme for the love heroically lost in the film. Tonight, I offer you a version of the song by the great Billie Holiday. She recorded it with Eddie Heywood & His Orchestra in 1944. I hope you enjoy Billie Holiday singing "As Time Goes By".

"When You Wish Upon A Star" was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's 1940 adaptation of 'Pinocchio'. The song became a theme for Disney Studios, and I remember hearing it every Sunday night when I watched 'Walt Disney's The Wonderful World of Color' television series in my youth. It is such a wonderful song filled with hope. I chose a version sung by one of my favorite singers, the amazing Linda Ronstadt. She was perfect for the song, having such clarity and crispness in her notes. I love this live performance from 1986, as she sings "When You Wish Upon A Star", off her 1986 album, 'For Sentimental Reasons'.

The final song of the evening was written by James V. Monaco, the lyrics by Joseph McCarthy in 1913. One of the earliest recordings of "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)" was by Al Jolson, and it has been sung by so many, from Screaming Jay Hawkins to Cookie Monster to Rufus Wainwright. But one of the most memorable versions for me was sung by the young Judy Garland, with special lyrics written as a birthday tribute to Clark Gable. When I found a version by the great Aretha Franklin, I just knew it had include it in this post. I hope you love Areatha's "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)", featured on her 1962 album, 'The Electrifying Aretha Franklin'.

Hope your weekend is a great one!


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