Musical Stuff #socs

Remember Musical Chairs when you were a kid? The game where n kids walk around n-1 chairs while music plays, and when the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair, and the kid who doesn’t make it drops out, taking one of the chairs with him, so there are n-1 kids and n-2 chairs, and it all starts again, until there are two kids and one chair? An example…

The late Irish comedian Dave Allen had his own version on his 1970’s TV show.

I use the expression “the musical question,” (e.g. “that’s the musical question!”) even when there’s no music involved. Here are a couple of musical questions…

There are still musicals being written for the stage, but they don’t typically make them into movies like in the middle of the last century. Remember movies like Oklahoma!, Paint Your Wagon, Holiday Inn, and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying? How about Annie Get Your Gun, Fancy Pants, Paleface, and The Music Man? There are hundreds of them, all of which started on the stage and eventually were made into movies. Going to the theater (“thee-a-tah”) was a relatively expensive proposition, and that was if you managed to live in a town that actually had one. The movies, in contrast, were relatively cheap, and movie theaters were ubiquitous (there’s a word for you), and even if you missed it the first time around, it would almost certainly come to television eventually.

What was my point? I forget…

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Monday’s Music Moves Me: Jazz Standards from Musicals


Well, I had a choice this week: “either about kids growing up (such as Brad Paisley’s “if he’s anything like me”) or songs from Musicals, whichever you prefer!” I’ll choose the latter.

Songs from musicals have always provided fodder for jazz musicians, who can take a song, change the tempo, reharmonize it, and improvise (or “riff”) off the original melody at will. Many songs considered standards started their lives as show tunes. Here are but five examples of some of the greatest jazz musicians ever playing songs from Broadway musicals or movie musicals and turning them into pure magic.

Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise – George Benson: By Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 operetta The New Moon. One of my favorite movies is Deep In My Heart, a 1954 biopic about Romberg that starred José Ferrer as the composer. This song, and some of the more jazzy interpretations of it, figure prominently in the picture. Ferrer made two movies in 1954; the other was The Caine Mutiny.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Miles Davis: Written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta. Davis drew heavily from the Broadway stage in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

My Funny Valentine – Chet Baker with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet: From the 1937 musical Babes in Arms by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Wikipedia tells me that this recording “will be inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s ‘cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy’.”

My Favorite Things – John Coltrane: From The Sound of Music (1959) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. ‘Trane’s 1961 album of the same name signaled his switch from bebop to modal jazz and is considered a groundbreaker.

Cheek to Cheek – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: I’ve done all instrumental covers to this point, here’s a vocal performance by one of the great jazz pairings. From the movie Top Hat (1935) by Irving Berlin.

That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 5, 2015. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Ten Popular Songs From The Stage


My brother Kip, once again, came up with this idea after Tuesday’s tribute to Lerner and Loewe: Top 40 Hits That Came From The Stage. He gave a couple of examples, which I’ve included, and I was able to add the rest. A couple of shows (Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair) provide about half this list. Anyway, here we go:


James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt McDermott wrote this “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” in 1967, and it won the Grammy for Best Score For An Original Cast Show Album.

Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension Reached #1 in the US in 1969, and it won Record of the Year in 1970.

Good Morning Starshine – Oliver Reached #3 in the US.

Easy To Be Hard – Three Dog Night Reached #4.

Hair – The Cowsills Climbed to #2 on the Hot 100.


Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber released this in 1970, although the song “Superstar” came out in late 1969. The album was Billboard‘s #1 album for 1971.

Superstar – Murray Head On the US charts three times, eventually reaching #14 in late May and early June 1971.

I Don’t Know How To Love Him – Yvonne Elliman Elliman’s version reached #28, while Helen Reddy’s reached #13.


Written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (not the singer).

Try To Remember – Jerry Orbach The original version


Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for this gem.

Send In The Clowns – Judy Collins Judy’s version reached #36 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1975.


Tim Rice wrote this with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (from ABBA). Did well in the UK, not so well in the US.

One Night In Bangkok – Murray Head Reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1984-1985.


By Stephen Schwartz with book by John-Michael Tebelak. The recording was done from the Cherry Lane Theater Production.

Day By Day – Robin Lamont Reached #13 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in Summer, 1972.

And that’s the Thursday Ten for September 10, 2015. Thanks, Kip!