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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread - Page 2



Rodgers & Hammerstein thread- Page 2

degrassifan
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#26
Posted: 5/20/20 at 3:52pm

Which Broadway/film composers and lyricists would you guys say are today's Rodgers and Hammerstein in terms of style and sound? 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#27
Posted: 5/20/20 at 4:45pm

If THE KING AND I doesn't seem to rank with R&H's greatest scores, we should remember that both of the leads were essentially non-singers. It's really rather remarkable that they got a musical out of the material, even if the best songs go to the supporting cast. The score absolutely works when the musical play is staged. (And I am shocked that anybody gets bored while watching "The Small House of Uncle Thomas", a beautiful fusion of western ballet with allusions to Asian performance styles. Dance is my least favorite of the musical theater elements, but that is one piece that always holds my attention.)

OLBLUEEYES, ALLEGRO also has "The Gentleman Is a Dope", which was a minor hit in its day, I believe. It's an interesting attempt by Hammerstein to write in the Rodgers and Hart vein (though I'm sure that's not what he thought he was doing).

The film of OKLAHOMA! seems dull because the song lyrics are all about painting a picture of the West that is right in front of your in Cinemascope. The scenery makes the score largely redundant. (Note, by contrast, that despite the sweeping shots of the Alps, the actual songs in SOM are mostly "in door" numbers, so the same redundancy doesn't accrue.)

I think OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I and THE SOUND OF MUSIC are major scores by any standard. And CINDERELLA has enough great songs to rank not far behind.

The other shows have some good songs, but I can't say the scores as a whole leave much of an impression on me.

 

Jarethan
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#28
Posted: 5/21/20 at 12:59am

As famous as he is, I sometimes think RR has not gotten enough credit as a composer.  As someone else pointed out, he was brilliant at adapting his music to the lyricist with whom he worked.  With Hammerstein, he wrote lush gorgeous melodies, that are firmly implanted in American musical history and enjoyed by EVERYONE.  With Hart, he also wrote gorgeous music, but it was just very different from the Hammerstein music.  Even though it was written years (even decades) earlier, I have always felt that it is as a portfolio more sophisticated than the Hammerstein.  While there are undeniable mega-standards in that portfolio, there are also many under appreciate gems, MAYBE because the did not get the same play as the Hammerstein stuff, particularly the 'Holy 5', for want of a better name.

I actually think TKAI is the best score that R&H ever wrote.  How many scores can you name in which almost throwaway songs are firmly entrenched in American music history, e.g., I Have Dreamed.  My second favorite score is Oklahoma, and I honestly must say that the main reason I have come to appreciate its greatness is the recent Daniel Fish production.  I never knew that Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and Surrey could be so erotic.  It also gave me a new found appreciation for Kansas City and I'm Just a Girl...  Note: I always thought that the title song, and People Will Say We're in Love were two of the greatest theatre songs ever written.  Also love SOM and SP, but just not as much.

I have to admit that, despite If I Loved You, Soliloquy, and You'll Never Walk Alone (all also in the music pantheon)I have mostly been indifferent to the total score for Carousel.  

 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#29
Posted: 5/21/20 at 5:09am
I definitely agree on Oklahoma. I always liked the score, and “Surrey” and “People Will Say We’re in Love” in particular, but the Fish production did a great job highlighting “Kansas City,” “I’m Just a Girl who Can’t Say No.” and “Many a New Day.” And “Surrey,” which I have always loved, went to another level in the revival.

I think I appreciated “The King and I” more the second time around in the London revival on BroadwayHD. I would probably put it behind South Pacific, though TKAI’s depth is impressive.
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OlBlueEyes
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#30
Posted: 5/23/20 at 12:15am

Only once in my life did I ever write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Richard Rodgers very inconveniently died on December 30, 1979. Due to all the New Year hoopla, and perhaps because he had rather been out of the public eye for quite some time, Rodgers' death seemed almost to pass unnoticed. One of the top ten composers of The American Century. Ignored. But it was in one of the places where it was not ignored that enraged me. 

Ellen Goodman was a syndicated columnist for the Boston.Globe. I saw her column in Long Island's major newspaper, Newsday. Ellen actually went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1980. This was not really such a big deal, as any op-ed columnist who hung around one of the major northeast newspapers for a half dozen years almost invariably won a Pulitzer. The Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal.

But I was blindsided by this column, which was a pure example of damning with faint praise. Trying to find the column that had so enraged me was difficult, as Ms. Goodman, who in her column stated that "I knew he was no Beethoven or Verdi," was not herself any Dorothy Parker or even Maureen Dowd. Her books are out of print. But I pieced most of it together from fragments.

Goodman had grown up listening to Rodgers: "Carousel and South Pacific. They were very simply, the earliest tunes in a house that was more alive with the sound of politics than the sound of music..As I grew older, I knew he was no Beethoven or Verdi, or John Lennon for that matter."

Now I'm a Beatles fan. My car radio default is set to the SiriusXM Beatles' channel. But John Lennon and Richard Rodgers? Perhaps a better comparison would be John Lennon and Stephen Sondheim, since both wrote words and music. Are people aware of the contribution of producer George Martin to the Beatles' recordings? When I first heard "Eleanor Rigby," my estimation of the Beatles leaped up a notch. Here was a serious song about a serious problem, wrapped up in a pretty package. But Paul had wanted the accompaniment to be just the guitars and bass. What would we have had if George's suggestion of accompaniment by and only by two string quartets had not been adapted?

Ellen talked about Rodger's amazing output: "1,500 songs, 43 stage musical scores, 9 film scores, 4 television scores." But she did cited this only for quantity, not quality. He could and would write a song to fit a scene. if Woody Allen is right in saying that 'Eighty percent of life is showing up, well, Richard Rodgers showed up."

"Some Enchanted Evening" will never go into the annals of great classics. The King and I is not Aida. But Rodgers was very useful to provide a hard-working man in the blouse business with a method of expressing himself. If he likes a tune, he can whistle it and it will make his life happier?

I would just like to see Ellen Goodman square off with Alan Alda on the subject of South Pacific.

They didn't print my letter.

I've been here too long to be surprised that no one reacted to the songs I plucked from Pipe Dream. And if they had reacted, it would probably have been negative. But I still call this the catchiest tune Richard Rodgers ever wrote.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks9RtF1RPwA

 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#31
Posted: 5/24/20 at 2:37am

FTR and FWIW, BlueEyes, I like the Encores' PIPE DREAM and play it fairly often. But I still can't put it in Rodgers' top tier.

Taking his career as a whole, however, I don't know if any of the greats can be said to match Rodgers' fecundity of melody. Even after Hammerstein's death, the later scores remain tuneful even if the shows were flops.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#32
Posted: 5/24/20 at 3:59pm

OlBlueEyes said: "I’ve been here too long to be surprised that no one reacted to the songs I plucked from Pipe Dream. And if they had reacted, it would probably have been negative. But I still call this the catchiest tune Richard Rodgers ever wrote.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks9RtF1RPwA

"
I adore Pipe Dream! Though definitley not Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best, it does have some great songs: All Kinds of People, Everybody’s Got a Home, Sweet Thursday, All at Once You Love Her, The Next Time It Happens, all top-notch.

Now, regarding Rodgers & Hammerstein shows, I believe that their first five are some of the best/most interesting musicals ever written.

All right, maybe that’s a stretch for Allegro, but it is a very interesting show with a great score and set a precedent for “concept” musicals along with Love Life. But I don’t think that anybody could dismiss the greatness of Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific or The King and I.

And yes, their later shows weren’t as great, but you can still find some gems among those scores. Regarding The Sound of Music, I don't believe the score is great, it has some lovely melodies but I find the lyrics a bit dull (it's hard to reconcile the fact that the man who wrote the infamous “a lark who is learning to pray” is the same man who wrote A Puzzlement or What's the Use of Wond’rin’). But still, the film is undeniably a classic, even though they sadly dropped two of the best songs in the score, How Can Love Survive? and No Way to Stop It.

Also, to anyone who is looking to get to know Rodgers & Hammerstein's scores, I would also recommend looking into the shows they wrote prior to their collaboration, then one can get an idea as to how these two geniuses combined early musical comedy’s use of popular music with operetta's need of character and plot development through tightly written scores to produce the single most influential work of musical theater, which led to the invention of the musical play as we know it today.

Some Rodgers and Hart shows you should get to know are Dearest Enemy, Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, On Your Toes and, of course, Pal Joey. You will find that some great standards come from these shows.

As for Hammerstein, definitley check out his and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, one of the greatest achievements in musical theater of the 20th century. It is one of the greatest scores ever written, a backstager of epic proportions tracking down the very history of musical theater along with the history of America from 1887 to 1927. Although some of the material may be considered dated, it still remains on of the greatest pieces of musical theater of all time.

Also from Hammerstein, you should check out some of his operettas, particularly The Desert Song and The New Moon, both with music by Sigmund Romberg (and collaborating on the lyrics and book, Otto Harbach).
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#33
Posted: 5/25/20 at 1:48am

I know what Sondheim says on the subject, but how would a nun-in-training in her late teens--I can't help it if Mary Martin was 50 when she created the role--describe birdsong better than "a lark who is learning to pray"?

That is EXACTLY what Hammerstein was known for: writing in the voice of the character rather than his own. If Sondheim finds that line cringeworthy, so be it; it doesn't belong in any of his shows anyway. But Hammerstein--however ill with cancer--knew exactly what he was doing.

A lark learning to pray is downright sophisticated compared to a small, white flower that looks "happy to meet me"! But though Hammerstein was literally on his deathbed when he wrote "Eidelweiss", millions of people were somehow convinced it was the actual national anthem of Austria!

It's a show about nuns and children, folks. I agree it's a corn-fest, but Sondheim is the one who is always nattering on about how content should dictate form.

/rant over

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#34
Posted: 5/25/20 at 2:22am

Funny you should bring up Show Boat. There's a separate thread going around labeled Show Boat, I think, which proposed that a new film should maybe be made. (I think for its centennial something will happen.) Someone brought up the 1988 John McGlinn three CD set of all music ever written for the show even if it has never been used. I had taken this out of the library a long time ago. I found and linked the box set for sale on Amazon along with the one disk condensed version. The 3 disk set is in stock and only $12.28 on Amazon. I think I'll throw it in with my next Amazon order.

(I just tried to get my Amazon smart speaker Alexa to bring up the McGlinn set and she is playing the 1962 studio version instead. Interesting. Have never heard this.)

I guess we have a lot of musical taste in common. I also miss the two "adult" songs from Sound of Music. They balance out all the children's songs and they are tuneful and witty on their own.

While somersaulting at a cockeyed angle,
We make a cockeyed circle 'round the sun.
And when we circle back to where we started from,
Another year has run.


I know my Rodgers and Hart pretty well. For one thing, my mother had obtained the double vinyl recording of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook and it got a lot of playtime. I haven't seen any of the musicals, I don't think, except for the Pal Joey film with Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. I wish I'd seen the Encores! Boys From Syracuse since I really like Rebecca Luker's "Falling in Love with Love" and the trio of ladies who sing "Sing for Your Supper." (These numbers are of course on YouTube. What isn't?)

For a long time,and maybe even now, I could rattle off the five standards from Babes in Arms, all of which were cut from the MGM film version. But you don't hear "Johnny One Note" and, surprisingly, "I Wish I Were In Love Again" very often.

FTR and FWIW, BlueEyes, I like the Encores' PIPE DREAM and play it fairly often. But I still can't put it in Rodgers' top tier. 

Gaveston, I only set out to see if I could find one or two songs in Pipe Dream that should have survived the show's failure. And I think that I did. I don't think much of the major love song, "All At Once You Love Her." I wondered if possibly the chorus of Cannery Row bums were supposed to serve the same function as the Seabees in South Pacific. Comic relief and plot advancement. Whatever, I think we see too much of them and they have too many songs.

How should I get my songs popularized? Laura Osnes keeps "Everybody's Got a Home But Me," in her repertoire, but I don't think her solo concert is extensive enough. "The Next Time It Happens" could develop into a general boy/girl duet. They can't keep singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" over and over forever.

Hmm. This 1962 studio version includes Helen Morgan singing "Bill" and Paul Robeson singing "I Still Suits Me." How do they do that?

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#35
Posted: 5/25/20 at 11:12pm
OlBlueEyes, I have that Show Boat recording, it is my favorite recording of that wonderful score! I especially enjoy listening to all of the additional material, particularly It's Getting Hotter in the North, I love that number and I think it is a very clever development of the tune Magnolia plays on the piano prior to her meeting with Ravenal in Act One.

While we’re at it, I should also like to point out that I very much enjoy Ella Fitzgerald's Rodgers and Hart album, I guess we do have similar musical taste.

I have unfortunately never seen any Rodgers and Hart show, they don’t produce them that often here in Mexico. But I do have some recordings of them, I very much enjoy the Encores! Boys from Syracuse, Pal Joey and Babes in Arms.

Gaveston, I appreciate your input on that Sound of Music lyric. I get what you mean and I think it is a very good point.
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#36
Posted: 5/26/20 at 6:45pm

Thanks, Mack. Apparently I had been waiting for decades to get that off my chest! LOL.

I, too, like the "grown-up" songs from SOM. But with so many people watching the movie annually now, I'm sure audiences get restless during any number that isn't in the film. It's a shame, really, because the over-familiarity with the kid and nun songs make the show a virtual "sing-along" even when that isn't intended. I'm not sure it can be experienced as a "musical play" (however sentimental) any more.

I nearly wore out my drama teacher's records of Ella Fitzgerald singing both the Rodgers and Hart and the Gershwin songbooks. I now have the same recordings downloaded and consider many of the covers definitive. Linda Rondstadt and Nelson Riddle later did an equally excellent job with many of the best Rodgers and Hart hits. Their three collaborations are "recordings I'd take to a desert island" for me.

Mack, some of the Rodgers and Hart shows would wear you out. While I was teaching there, UCLA did the original libretto of BABES IN ARMS. It was a good production and very interesting historically, but it was extremely long and so full of obscure Depression references it was ultimately exhausting, despite one of the team's best scores. (The 1950s "revisal" is pure "Let's put on a show" derivative corn, but it plays better than an evening of jokes about the WPA.) To be fair, I thought the production was exactly the sort of thing a university should be doing; I just didn't see it as something with a lot of contemporary, commercial potential.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#37
Posted: 5/26/20 at 9:42pm

Did we three share a grandparent somewhere back there? Linda Ronstadt when she put on her prom dress for an hour on HBO with Nelson Riddle. I think I still have the VHS somewhere. I bought all the vinyl albums and then upgraded to the CDs. But you know, I don't actually listen to them much. But I don't listen to any of my CDs much anymore. I have to make a playlist of my favorites. 

Linda wanted to record "What's New" and was directed to Nelson Riddle who told her he only did albums. So she agreed to do an album. Nelson had never heard of her and asked his daughter if she knew who Linda was and if her checks were good.

Actually, I had a mixed opinion on her ballads. She wailed on some.. She did "Someone to Watch Over Me" all right. (Song approaching its centennial but there's no stopping it. Made it into Crazy for You and Nice Work. Now that's standing the test of time.) "Lush Life" was a difficult song that I thought she did well.

The playful songs. Perfecto. "Falling in Love Again." "You Took Advantage of Me" "Can't We Be Friends" "Crazy He Calls Me." "Straighten Up and Fly Right" 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#38
Posted: 5/26/20 at 9:54pm

Ronstadt's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" is a masterpiece. She introduced me to that and "I've Got a Crush on You" and "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons".

I love her on the ballads, too. She is, after all, more a belter than a crooner; of course, she sings the material differently than Ella did before her.

I have trouble believing Nelson Riddle had never heard of her! Maybe he just wasn't that familiar with her body of work and so turned to the next generation...

I had the three records on vinyl, then audiocassette, then CD (individually and box set) and now downloaded to my laptop.

To me she is the great pop voice of the 20th century, though when I saw her in concert, I found her performance a little dull. More an amazing musician than an "entertainer" in my experience.

It hurts my heart every time I remember that she can't sing any more. If God were still on the job, she would have been allowed to age vocally gracefully, like a Julie Wilson or Mimi Hines.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#39
Posted: 5/27/20 at 7:04pm

I think God on the whole was pretty damn good to Linda. She sang everything. Well, I don't think she did Johnny Cash. But she ended the HBO hour with "Desperado" and in her Mexican incarnation she had my mother's approval for "Perfidia", an old favorite of hers.

As has just about every vocalist who ever made a recording, Linda at least once was the guest host for an hour of playing favorites on the Sirius Sinatra channel. She told the Nelson Riddle story on herself, but could easily have exaggerated so that she would have a good anecdote. She and Riddle became quite close, and Nelson was supposed to be on the withdrawn side, at least compared to Sinatra's other major arranger, Don Costa.

Just as I wonder how the Beatles' body of work would have been affected if George Martin had not been their long-time producer, I wonder how many pop hits attained that status primarily due to the arranger and orchestrator of the the accompaniment. 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#40
Posted: 5/27/20 at 8:08pm

You are right as usual, Blue. I was speaking for myself, not Miss Ronstadt. In the interviews I've read on her condition, she hasn't sounded the least self-pitying, much less one to blame God.

And I didn't know Nelson Riddle. It's just that Ronstadt succeeded in so many genres, I wonder how Riddle could have never heard of her, even if he wasn't very familiar with her recordings. It's as if someone claimed Stephen Sondheim has never heard of Lin Manuel Miranda: maybe, but I kinda sorta doubt it. I think you are right: there is a grain of truth, but Ronstadt was improving the story. What I can believe is that Riddle didn't trust his own sense of then-current pop performers and was asking his daughter, who better knew the folks on the radio and MTV in the 1980s.

This may be heresy, but I think Ronstadt's "Desperado" is even better than that of The Eagles, and Don Henry is a giant to me, as a singer and writer. A woman singing those perfect lyrics adds an extra layer of poignancy.

Of course, nowadays, the producer of a pop recording IS the primary artist. Singers are just a place to get product for auto-tune. (There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole, pop, rock and R&B have become producers' media.)

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#41
Posted: 5/28/20 at 3:06am

I didn't even know there was a "Desperado" before Linda. It seemed like a song to be sung to a man by a woman who was concerned about him.

I'm someone in the position of Nelson Riddle who would never have heard of Linda. I pay absolutely no attention to the pop music scene. I didn't know what Hip Hop was until Hamilton, and I still don't really, even though SiriusXM has three Hip Hop channels. I'm stuck in the past. How can new bands built around two guitars, a bass and a keyboard generate anything that I haven't already heard? I would rather go back to the late 30s and 40s to hear the great jazz and swing bands. SiriusXM axed their 1940's station a few years ago. Everyone who grew up during that decade was gone, so they thought. But it received the most complaints of any channel they had cancelled, so they brought it back. That's encouraging.

Here's a review of Linda and Nelson probably performing the act that appeared on HBO. 

https://www.nytimes.com/1983/09/26/arts/pop-music-linda-ronstadt-and-riddle-at-music-hall.html

 

Nelson Smock Riddle Jr. (June 1, 1921 – October 6, 1985) was an American arrangercomposer, bandleader and orchestrator whose career stretched from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s. He worked with many world-famous vocalists at Capitol Records, including Frank SinatraElla FitzgeraldNat King ColeJudy GarlandDean MartinPeggy LeeJohnny MathisRosemary Clooney and Keely Smith. He found commercial and critical success with a new generation in the 1980s, in a trio of Platinum albums with Linda Ronstadt. His orchestrations earned an Academy Award and three Grammy Awards.

Nelson arranged (wrote the charts?) for Ella's last two songbooks, Kern and Mercer.

I get carried away posting things but since we're talking about Riddle, here is his single famous most arrangement, from Sinatra Live at the Sands. Sinatra recorded two Cole Porter songs that are rather similar: "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "I've Got You Under my Skin." But the Riddle arrangement of the latter brought fame to song and Riddle. There's a booming trombone solo, followed by a chorus of syncopated horns.

I've Got You Under My Skin (live at the Sands

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#42
Posted: 5/28/20 at 8:18pm

As we've established, Blue, my musical taste is quite similar to yours. But I have "heard" of Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, even if I can only name one song between the two them. (I think "Wrecking Ball" was Miley Cyrus; somewhere I saw a few seconds of her riding a wrecking ball.) Similarly, I can name two or three Katie Perry songs (though I couldn't sing them for you, not even the choruses). If I were suddenly asked to write for any of these women, I would probably call my grandchildren!

On the other hand, I have everything Amy Winehouse and Adele recorded.

Do you know a Palm Springs radio station called "Mod FM"? You might enjoy it. They play at least one, classic Frank Sinatra song per hour, and they also play every man in the 1950s and 60s who sang LIKE Sinatra (which was almost everybody). Their local call letters here are 107.3 FM, but you can listen to them online here:

https://www.radio.com/1073modfm/listen

They also play a lot of Ella and Armstrong, and a lot of "jazz" covers that I somehow missed. Minimal commercial interruption.

I don't have Sirius, so it's possible Mod-FM merely duplicates what you've already got.

We bought a new car several months ago and the radio station has never been changed!

Thanks for the Sinatra cut. Not my favorite song--I prefer the number from ANYTHING GOES--but I agree the arrangement is amazing! I really appreciate early Sinatra, but the older he got, the more his inner-a$$hole showed, IMHO. I can't stand any singer who thinks he can just casually improvise the lyrics, much less one who repeatedly adds the word "cuckoo".

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread#43
Posted: 5/28/20 at 8:45pm

Gaveston, if you enjoy Amy Winehouse, I recommend Lana Del Rey. She's covered some older songs, including "Blue Velvet", "The Other Woman", "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and her original songs are quite gorgeous. I personally recommend her albums Ultraviolence and the unprintable Norman Fvcking Rockwell! (which I personally would compare to Joni Mitchell's Blue in terms of astounding singer-songwriter works). As for Swift, some tracks on her Red album are gorgeously rendered - "All Too Well" has some beautifully specific lyrics that are so often missing from the pop sphere (Personally, I enjoy Swift's last three albums, but they are certainly more pop-oriented, and as such have lost her lyrical touch - though sonically Reputation is pretty incredible).

Back to Rodgers and Hammerstein, it's interesting to hear the dislike for Allegro. It's certainly the most fragmented of R&H scores, but there are several top-tier songs there: "You Are Never Away", "A Fellow Needs a Girl", "So Far", "Money Isn't Everything", "The Gentlemen Is a Dope", and "Come Home." Sure the show might not work, but the score is not the issue in my opinion. Of course, the show can't compare to The King and I, which is perfect in every word of the book and note of the score, but it's certainly no Me and Juliet or Pipe Dream.

"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium." - Patti LuPone, a Memoir
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#44
Posted: 5/29/20 at 9:25am

The Sinatra channel on Sirius is surprisingly really the only place to hear "Song Book" songs and vocals. The channel is run by the Sinatra family. For about the last fourteen years daughter Nancy has had a weekly three hour radio show on the channel in which she is full of rare songs, recording session outtakes, and a lot of expert knowledge on the man and his friends and his work. 

Sinatra is about the last person that I would expect to like as a person and as a performer. Incredibly successful, macho, crude (in later years), Walking out on his wife and children for another woman. Having so many other women. But the excellence of the music drew me in and listening to daughter Nancy over the years humanized him. He always remained "married" to his first wife, the mother of his daughters and always tried to be there for holidays and birthdays. To those he liked, he could not have been more gracious and charitable. Jimmy Webb when he did his hour on Sirius as guest host recalled how Sinatra had treated him and his father like kings out in Vegas when he was still a green young songwriter. His politics were heavily civil rights and his buddies in the 60s, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis were top shelf in talent and character. He had of course his ugly side. His daughters adored him, and still do. His habit of giving credit to the composers and the arrangers of every song he sung in concert was generous.

 All agree that the fifties years on Capitol were his peak. I roll my eyes (not in the racist sense) when people go over the top to "greatest singer in history," But I would come a lot closer to agreeing on the excellence of the fifties albums and singles because they were not just a product of Sinatra, but also of the best composers, arrangers and musicians of the time. His daughter credits him with lifting many Rodgers and Hart songs from obscurity to lasting fame.

It's hard to believe now that way way back when we were young the TV networks regularly put top vocalists on in prime time. Sinatra did three hour specials from 1965-67. I still carry the third around on my iPhone. Sinatra, Ella, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Count Basie. Half of the time is devoted to song exchanges and duets with Ella. You can see how he worships her just from the way he looks at her while she is singing. They end with a swinging "Lady is a Tramp" that when I first heard it I was sure had to be the best recording of it ever made. Not sure I would go that far now. Frank sings a surprisingly effective "Ol' Man River," which he introduces with "a few songs become standards and a very few of those become classics." The only defect in his performance with Jobim is that it is too short.

https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=0BPRYiZOlig

So that is my long, off-topic defense of my board name. Not surprisingly, I eventually overdosed on too much Sinatra and my default Sirius channel right now is the Beatles Channel. 

That concert of Linda and Nelson that turned into the hour HBO program is up on YouTube. Maybe it is transfer from the VHS, since the video is dark with a lot of the color washed out. But it's still good musically. 

Was it in Henry V that Shakespeare promised the return of the popular Falstaff, but then never followed through? Linda promised the inclusion of the next song on her next album with Nelson, but never followed through. But she did record it here, and if you've never seen her on the stage doing this familiar little gem then you should enjoy it.

Linda Ronstadt does Fats.

 

Updated On: 5/29/20 at 09:25 AM
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Sally Durant Plummer
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#45
Posted: 5/29/20 at 5:45pm

I generally detest all Gilbert and Sullivan, but Ronstadt's "Poor Wand'ring One" is certainly one of the best - and unexpected! - performances of that song in existence. She is truly one of the most versatile artists of the last 60 years.

"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium." - Patti LuPone, a Memoir
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#46
Posted: 5/29/20 at 7:15pm

Sally, are you saying them that the score of Allegro fits in neatly between The King and I  and Pipe Dream/Me and Juliet in quality? I was happy to be able to see Pipe Dream. The score pretty much met my expectations. Below the quality of their best known shows, but with some nice songs that it certainly seemed should have been popularized. 

I would certainly be there if they produced the other two.

Do you find it odd that not one blockbuster or semi-blockbuster emerged from the three poor sisters? "All the Things You Are" wasn't even in the overture of the Kern/Hammerstein flop Very Warm for May, That didn't stop the song from becoming one of our most recorded ballads. Artie Shaw tells the story of how he rescued "Begin the Beguine" from a short lived Cole Porter show by speeding up the tempo and adding a little more Latin beat to it.

 

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#47
Posted: 5/29/20 at 8:31pm

Blue, I was talking more in terms of Allegro as a whole - score & book. The King and I certainly has a score that I believe works far better in the context of the show, but is is - generally speaking - a collection of songs sung by the principal characters about their actions & feelings. Allegro has a wonderful score, but it isn't exactly a work that works just as a listening experience. The complete recording is tiring too listen to because so much of the score is fragmentary and sung by the "greek" chorus of secondary characters who only appear briefly. The songs that I listed above are the ones that do translate to the more traditional idea of R&H songs. In many ways Allegro is the opposite of Carousel: Carousel takes us directly into the psyche of the characters through complex and lengthy musical sequences, whereas Allegro attempts to make us understand a character primarily through other people's perspective - both the people in his life and a group of seemingly omnipresent onlookers.

If I do recall, "The Gentlemen Is a Dope" became a minor hit. And in high school and college, plenty of young men used "A Fellow Needs a Girl" as an audion or performance song - though it was generally taken out of context, sung as a young lover to his beau as opposed to a father singing to his son.

I don't find it terribly odd that none of the shows produced a hit just because Rodgers and Hammerstein were so esteemed the disappointment in these shows probably tainted the initial reception. I remember that Merrily We Roll Along was savaged by the reviewers (though Frank Rich made a special point to praise the score as separate from the show) and even though someone (was it Sinatra?) had recorded "Good Thing Going" before the show opened, the score's nadir in public perception was most definitely in 1981. Since then, that score has only grown in stature.

As for "All the Things You Are", sometimes composer's don't know the forest from the trees in their own work. But Kern's work on "All the Things You Are" is so towering that it has rarely been touched by other composers. Also, I don't know when it was recorded, but I seem to remember whatever was billed as the "Original Cast Recording" for Very Warm For May contained something around four different versions "All the Things You Are"!

"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium." - Patti LuPone, a Memoir
Updated On: 5/29/20 at 08:31 PM
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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#48
Posted: 5/29/20 at 10:36pm

Thanks. You really appear to have a high level of knowledge. I wonder if musical composers, including R&H, give any thought to what songs in a score can be covered and what songs are so intrinsic to the musical that they can't stand alone. I think that one of the great jobs of doing minor surgery on a song that allowed it to be sung outside the context of the show was "If He Walked Into My Life." Some changes had to be made, like dropping "that boy with the bugle," but not all that much, and it became a signature song for Eydie Gorme (I used to think of Steve and Eydie as second tier, but listening to a lot of her work on the Sirius Sinatra channel really upped my opinion of her.)

I used to listen to Jonathan Schwartz a lot which meant I used to hear Nancy LaMott a lot. One of my favorite recordings of Nancy was her intertwining (do they call it a mashup these days?) of "Good Thing Going" and "Not a Day Goes By" accompanied by a lovely mournful cello.They were really the first songs of Sondheim outside of "Clowns" that I could see would be popular songs to cover. Sinatra recorded both, separately, but I don't know when he began singing them.

It sometime seems to me that they keep doing major surgery on Merrily because they want to preserve the score and in particular the songs that other artists can perform.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#49
Posted: 5/29/20 at 10:41pm

Thanks for the recommendations, Sally. I will check out Del Rey. I've only heard Swift live on TV and she always sounds pitchy to me; but I know she is highly regarded as a songwriter.

Yes, the CD of the OBCR of VERY WARM FOR MAY has exactly four covers of "All the Things You Are", including the first recording, a commercial recording and a "bonus" version.

OlBlueEyes, I was just expressing my personal reaction. I do understand intellectually why Sinatra was a giant of the century. I, too, prefer the Capital years and have the boxed set. And of course I grew up watching all the Rat Pack on TV. I think Davis could have been an even better singer but he was influenced too much by Sinatra. Or maybe that's just how he sometimes sounds to me. I'm no pop expert.

As for Ronstadt and "Poor Wandering One", I've probably told this story on some thread here, but I attended the last preview of PIRATES in the Park, with an invited audience of theater professionals and insiders. There was a lot of chatter beforehand about the "rock singer from California and what is she gonna do, belt G&S?"

"Poor Wandering One" began and people got very quiet. Then mid-song you could hear the buzz of viewers whispering excitedly. By the end of the aria, Ronstadt stopped the show cold as the house exploded! It remains one of my favorite audience moments ever!

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Rodgers & Hammerstein thread con#50
Posted: 5/29/20 at 11:01pm

Gaveston, I love Del Rey very much (she is probably my favorite musical artist of this century, along with Lady Gaga) but do note her most famous record, Born to Die, is certainly her most pop-oriented. Although it has her gorgeous ballad "Video Games", it has her weakest lyrics. In a highly publicized (and misogynistic) review, Pitchfork called it something along the lines of "the musical equivalent of a faked orgasm." As her career has gone on (and she proved she wasn't a flash in the pan, what with 5 albums and 1 ep released in the last decade) and she has receded into the alternative/indie sphere, her songwriting has grown. Her last album is a gorgeous (though certainly 21st century) version of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, or even Alanis Morissette.

As for Swift, I've never seen her live so that probably allows me to appreciate her more. I also like pop styling, which she has been pushing for her last 3 albums. She is an expert at marketing, I'll give her that. 

Thanks. You really appear to have a high level of knowledge.

Well that certainly brightened my day! Thank you. You know a lot as well - it's seldom a pleasure to have a discussion on this site (I've been using it less and less) but these past few days it has been a welcome distraction.

"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium." - Patti LuPone, a Memoir