FLASH SPECIAL: S'Romantic! Top Ten Gershwin Love Songs
As enticing as a Valentine's Day bouquet, as delectable as a box of chocolates and as heartwarming as a kiss from your betrothed, today we are honoring one of Broadway's most romantic musicals - absolutely perfect to take in on a big date-night like tonight, no doubt - NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, as well as the sumptuous, sonorous songs of George & Ira Gershwin - those featured within the hit musical revue and far beyond. "S'Wonderful" to "Someone To Watch Over Me" to "An American In Paris", "Rhapsody In Blue" and more, this clip collection is the ideal way to fall under the heady spell of Cupid's arrow while also enjoying Broadway songwriting at its best.
The words and music created by brothers George and Ira Gershwin over the course of their astonishingly remarkable if all-too brief partnership collectively comprises some of the very finest American songs ever written, as well as one of the most masterful dramatic musical pieces ever composed, PORGY & BESS - an opera which was just reconceived and revived on Broadway last season to much acclaim (and a Tony Award for Best Revival, as well) under director Diane Paulus. Featuring one of the most gripping and harrowing romantic scores in theatrical history, PORGY & BESS is musical drama at its most moving, potent and powerful. In addition to their stage musicals like PORGY & BESS, the Pulitzer Prize-winning OF THEE I SING and the little-seen rest, the stunning concert music of the Gershwin oeuvre also continually impresses audiences old and new. It is in this music that George Gershwin gives actual sonic voice to deep emotions and precisely exacting instrumental timbre to buried feelings in a way contemporary symphonic music rarely did or does even now - look no further than the simply astounding "Rhapsody In Blue" for one legendary example of the transcendent power implicit in the vast Gershwin catalogue.
So, too, is the prominence of George & Ira Gershwin's expert musical compositions in one of the finest movie musicals ever crafted, Vincente Minnelli & Gene Kelly's 1951 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS - one of the many reasons why that film has remained so classic and universally beloved more than fifty years after its premiere, looking better than ever right here and now in 2013 on the recent, remastered Blu-ray re-issue of it.
Yet, even beyond brilliant Broadway revivals and breathtaking Blu-ray releases, the current Gershwin legacy proudly lives on and gives a whole new generation a chance to fall in love with their musical mastery in the form of an original Gershwin revue created just for Broadway today - the multi-Tony Award-winning hit NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, created by MEMPHIS mastermind Joe DiPietro, choreographed and directed by Kathleen Marshall. Featuring "Someone To Watch Over Me" and many more of the most well-known, most-loved and most memorable Gershwin gems as well as some lesser-known jewels and a titanically bejeweled and star-bedecked cast of actors enacting it all - among them, NICE WORK Tony Award-winners Judy Kaye and Michael McGrath, as well as leads Matthew Broderick, Kelli O'Hara and new cast addition Blythe Danner - NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is the ideal way to spend your Valentine's Day, whether taking a loved one along with you to re-experience the laughs and mellifluous melodies or freshly experiencing the immensely entertaining show for the first time, together. It's a date!
Check out my 2012 InDepth InterView with NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT conceptualist and bookwriter Joe DiPietro here.
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is on Broadway at the Imperial Theater. More information is available at the official site here.
But, before we formally begin the countdown, enjoy the sights and sounds of NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT on Broadway with this trailer for the show, featuring Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Broderick's beguiling "S'Wonderful" and much more!
Rhapsody In Red
Now, let's take a look at the very best of the best Gershwin love songs of all time.
First up, witness maestro Leonard Bernstein taking to the piano and leading "Rhapsody In Blue" at the Royal Albert Hall in this two-part video you will not soon forget.
Next, Ella Fitzgerald jazzes up the wedding anniversary dance staple "(Our) Love Is Here To Stay", abetted here by the brilliant musical arrangements of Nelson Riddle.
While not a traditional love song, perhaps, the most popular song of the 20th century, "Swanee" (introduced by Al Jolson), undoubtedly deserves a place on any list of the top Gershwin love songs (this one with lyrics by Irving Caesar) given its lyrical content alone. After all, how can you not love dear old "Swanee" - or, better yet, Judy Garland singing it?!
Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro sensitively collaborate onstage (and onscreen) to create a movie musical moment for the ages with "The Man I Love" in Martin Scorsese's NEW YORK, NEW YORK - a song originally written by the Gershwins for 1924's LADY BE GOOD.
Another legendary duo give voice to another well-remembered classic Gershwin love song, "I've Got A Crush On You", courtesy of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Like buttah - gooey, melting, syrupy, smooth butter.
Showing off the sassier and saucier sides of courtship, here is the caustic "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" - a Gershwin classic featured eight times a week on Broadway in NICE WORK, no less - as humorously done by jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
Billie Holiday brings her own unique style to the most famous song from PORGY & BESS, the scintillating "Summertime" - a lilting, loving lullaby. Enjoy this vintage 1936 recording of it.
Jazz vocalist Diana Krall lends her smoky instrument to another romantic staple of the Great American Songbook by George & Ira, "S'Wonderful", as seen in this superb live concert capture.
Take in one of the most romantic moments in movie history with this unforgettable final sequence from the "An American In Paris" finale portion of the film of the same name, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Swoon!
Lastly, here is the song no Gershwin love song list would be complete without, the stirring and immensely lush "Someone To Watch Over Me", here magnificently sung by tragically deceased music icon Amy Winehouse.
As our first bonus, George Gershwin himself takes to his prized celesta and plays "Rhapsody In Blue" as no one else but the composer of the masterpiece ever could. Rhapsodic, to say the very, very least!
As a second special bonus, check out the new trailer for NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT on Broadway. Don't miss it!
So, what is your absolute favorite Gershwin love song? Is "Someone To Watch Over Me" the one you can't forget or is "Rhapsody In Blue" what moves you most momentously over and over again? Better yet, perhaps all of PORGY & BESS is just impossible for you to resist? Furthermore, is AN AMERICAN IN PARIS not one of the most romantic movie musicals ever made? And, most of all, is NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT on Broadway not a total lark from beginning to end?
It seems clear judging from these clips and in looking at the vast songstack of the Gershwins enduring that our love for them is here to stay for many decades - and centuries - to come.