Thursday, 19 November 2009
The Cult of Manhattan Tower
Two or three times over the life of this blog, I have written about a 1945 recording titled Manhattan Tower. I was a little girl of no more than five or six when my parents obtained it when it was first released, and I adopted it as my own. I played those two 78s hundreds of times and I am convinced it is what began my love affair with New York City – nothing else explains my yearning to live there from earliest childhood.
The album is a love story to New York City, a suite composed and conducted by Gordon Jenkins with the lead performances sung by Eliot Lewis and Beverly Mahr. Never heard of them? Me neither – except on this album.
For the longest time, decades, I believed Manhattan Tower was a private obsession. But ever since I blogged about it in 2005, people regularly stop by having, I assume, googled the title. Some leave comments about how happy they are to rediscover an old favorite, and many others turn up in the blog stats having visited the page, but not left a comment. There is, apparently, a cult surrounding Manhattan Tower.
Having long lost the album, I found it a few years ago on a CD of old, old New York songs, some much older than these. A check yesterday at Amazon turned up a newer CD titled Manhattan Tower, but because it references the 1956 release, I can't tell if it is the version made in that decade with a different cast, or the original 1945 release. The one I bought is still available at Amazon, but only from outside vendors at a horrendously high price: $63.66 and $39.69.
Jenkins' arrangement is, by today's standards, overblown, grandiose and almost-but-not-quite sticky sweet. But that doesn't matter to me and other members of the Manhattan Tower cult. And the story, in a way, matches my own New York story, a city a still miss every day.
Now that audio is possible on this blog, I've posted the entire suite below. There are four movements, each about four minutes long. For those of you who don't find it too treacly – enjoy.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson: What's Up, Doc?