Sunday, 19 January 2014
ELDER MUSIC: 1943
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
What happened in 1943?
- Jim Morrison was born
- Things were still grim but slowly improving
- Italy surrendered, then switched sides
- Assassination attempt on Hitler failed when the bomb on his plane failed to explode
- The Ox-Bow Incident was released
- Richmond were premiers
I can think of no better way to start this year than with NAT KING COLE.
This is, of course, The Nat King Cole Trio we're talking about here and the song is All for You. It has the distinction of being the first of theirs to cross over and make the pop charts.
Which brings up to BING CROSBY. This year certainly wasn't the first time he'd made the charts.
The song, Moonlight Becomes You, was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke for the film Road to Morocco.
"You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"
Okay, you all know what I'm talking about. The film came out the previous year but the song was a hit this year, several versions of it in fact. There's only one I'd consider including though, and that's by DOOLEY WILSON.
Dooley was a singer and a drummer, but not a pianist. He just acted playing the piano in Casablanca because he was an actor as well. Even though he appeared in a couple of dozen films, there's only one we remember him for. But what a film.
Here is As Time Goes By.
The song Stormy Weather had been around since 1933. In 1943 they made a film with that as its title. It was a bio-pic based roughly on the life of Bill Robinson (who played himself).
Dooley Wilson was in that film too as Bill's best friend along with Cab Calloway and Fats Waller. It goes without saying than LENA HORNE had a lead role as well and sang the title song.
Why Don't You Do Right? was written by Kansas Joe McCoy. It was originally called The Weed Smoker's Dream and he recorded that with his band, The Harlem Hamfats.
Joe later wrote new words to the song and changed its name to the one we know. This was recorded by Lil Green with Big Bill Broonzy playing guitar. PEGGY LEE was impressed with Lil's version and she recorded it with Benny Goodman. She said that Lil was a big influence on her music.
Mister Five by Five was written by Don Raye and Gene DePaul. The song is all about Jimmy Rushing who was Count Basie's vocalist for many years.
Ella Mae Morse and Freddie Slack had a hit with it but the version we're interested in, also a hit, is by HARRY JAMES with HELEN FORREST singing.
Here are THE INK SPOTS with I Can't Stand Losing You.
Nothing more needs to be said. Just sit back and enjoy it.
This year saw early rumblings of the jump blues style of music that took off in the latter part of the decade. One of the first of the musicians who played in the style was LOUIS JORDAN.
Five Guys Named Moe started life as a musical short created by Louis. It then became a fully fledged musical, again with the music written by our man. Here he is with the title song.
Next is CHARLES TRENET with a song he wrote himself called Que reste-t-il de nos amours?
That means "what remains of our love?" You might recognise it.
The musical Oklahoma! opened on Broadway this year with ALFRED DRAKE playing the lead role of Curly.
Alfred appeared in many musicals as well as Shakespearean productions. He was an early TV actor as well but only made a few films. Oklahoma! was one of Rodgers and Hammerstein's many such vehicles and Alfred sings the title song.
1944 will appear in two weeks' time.