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ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Frank Loesser

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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.

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Frank Loesser wrote songs in the usual manner of tin pan alley, but he also wrote musicals for Broadway – both music and lyrics – "Guys and Dolls" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" are the couple that spring immediately to mind.

He managed to gather a Tony Award, a Pulitzer Prize but only managed a nomination for an Oscar. Although Frank's dad was a piano teacher, he didn't teach him as even by the age of four he could play by ear pretty much any music he heard.

After dad died Frank had to go out and earn a living in non-musical pursuits. He eventually got hired to write songs and his future was assured (with some bumps along the way).

Let's get to the music itself, starting with the "Divine One", SARAH VAUGHAN.

Sarah Vaughan

It's been said by some that Sarah could have been an opera singer if the opportunity had arisen. We'll never know. She sings a song that many others have also tackled, but few as well as she. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year.

♫ Sarah Vaughan - Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year

Another song that many have performed – okay, I think you'll be able to say that about everything today – is Baby, It's Cold Outside. I considered a number of versions, but the one that tickled my fancy was by WILLIE NELSON and NORAH JONES.

Willie Nelson & NorahJones

Willie and Norah are admirably suited to the laid back nature of this song.

♫ Willie Nelson & Norah Jones - Baby It's Cold Outside

Here is MILES DAVIS with his classic early quintet.

Miles Davis

That is John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland piano, Paul chamber bass and Philly Joe Jones drums. It really doesn't get any better than that. Their contribution is If I Were a Bell from the musical "Guys and Dolls".

♫ Miles Davis - If I Were a Bell

From one of the musicals mentioned at the beginning, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", ROBERT MORSE sings to himself.

Robert Morse

This is from the scene when he is in the loo with a bunch of others and he serenades himself in the mirror. If you get a chance to see the film it's worth it for this scene alone. Robert assures himself that I Believe in You.

♫ Robert Morse and Co - I Believe in You

We have another film tie-in, this time it's "Thanks for the Memory" – that's the name of the film. You can probably guess who the singers are, but that's not the song we're using (although it was in the film, as you can imagine).

First, for those not familiar with that particular song I'd like to say that the singers are BOB HOPE and SHIRLEY ROSS.

Bob Hope & Shirley Ross

The song is Two Sleepy People. Frank had the help of Hoagy Carmichael for the lyrics on this one.

♫ Bob Hope and Shirley Ross - Two Sleepy People

Another musical/film is "Guys and Dolls", already mentioned, and from that we have the song, A Bushel and a Peck. This was all over the hit parade at the time, with multiple versions.

I listened to a bunch of them (that was a bit of a trial), and the one that least offended me was by FRANKIE LAINE and JO STAFFORD.

Frankie Laine & Jo Stafford

Here's what they sound like.

♫ Frankie Laine & Jo Stafford - A Bushel And A Peck

"Greenwillow" is not a musical with which I'm familiar, but I'm not a big musical fan so it's not too surprising. Lesser Samuels and Frank Loesser wrote it and Frank wrote all the songs for it – about two dozen of them.

One of those is Never Will I Marry, which has been recorded by a bunch of people. I'm not going with one you're probably familiar with, instead here is ANDREA MOTIS.

Andrea Motis

Andrea is a Spanish musician and on this track she not only sings, but plays trumpet as well.

♫ Andrea Motis - Never Will I Marry

I originally had Chet Baker pencilled in at this spot, but I heard BILLY ECKSTINE sing the song and changed my mind. It's pretty unusual for me to throw out Chet, however, I know that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, will approve of my including Billy.

Billy Eckstine

Billy really did have one of the finest voices in music. I wasn't keen on all those strings, but it was the fashion back then. Hear what he makes of I've Never Been in Love Before.

♫ Billy Eckstine - I've Never Been In Love Before

Frank's songs seem to lend themselves to jazz treatment, and the next is no different. In this case it's by BILL CHARLAP.

Bill Charlap Trio

Bill came from a musical family, his mum sang on Perry Como's TV program and dad was a Broadway composer. Bill plays piano and has his trio along to perform On a Slow Boat to China.

♫ Bill Charlap - On A Slow Boat To China

This is the sort of material that's really suited to MEL TORMÉ, so of course, he gets into the act as well.

Mel Torme

Mel's version of Once in Love with Amy is pretty well known, but it's always good to hear it again.

♫ Mel Tormé - Once In Love With Amy

INTERESTING STUFF – 2 December 2017


Last Saturday I mentioned that Marianna Sheffer, proprietor of Hattie's Web, was in hospice. Today the news is no less sad for not being unexpected – Hattie died on Tuesday. Her daughter Alice wrote:

My mom died peacefully in her sleep last night with my sister Julia and my father Terry by her side. There will be details about a memorial gathering to take place some time in December. I will post those details here once I have them.

“I don't have any eloquent things to say but I do know that you all and this blog were an important part of her life.”

Many of the same people read Marianna's blog and this one and we will all miss her. You can leave messages at Hattie's Web.

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Do you remember the dancing baby? That strange, horrid, creepy dancing baby?

It was the first meme to take over the internet and it first appeared – I would never have guessed it was this long ago – more than two decades ago. Here is its history:


Research tells us that 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and I doubt the statistics are much different in other countries.

That means if it's not you, it will be someone you know – probably more than one over time – and, also probably, someone who is close to you.

Jan Adams, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?, sent a link to this story by Malkia Cyril, with some “real talk” about how friends can help friends through chemotherapy. A couple of examples:

”Support the agency and self determination of those battling cancer. Sometimes you may feel you know best, but the person fighting for their life and those closest to their care are the ones who know best what is needed. Make offers to help in ways that feel right to you, but don’t pressure survivors or their caregivers to accept help they may not want or need.

Wash your damn hands. No, really, personal hygiene is the most important part of helping your loved one survive chemotherapy. Chemo can kill some bone marrow, lowering the body’s resistance to infection...And, don’t just rinse them, wash the shit out of your hands and carry some hand sanitizer around. Especially if you are coming to my house. Do it, often.

The entire list is worth reading and committing to memory. You'll find it here.


The U.S. has some excellent editorial cartoonists. I greatly enjoy them especially when they are on my side of the political divide.

But you haven't seen nuthin' until you've seen some Australian editorial cartoonists and their harsher takes on President Trump. A couple of examples, the first by freelance cartoonist, Judy Nadin:


This one if from David Rowe of Australian Financial Review:


The Washington Post has collected about a dozen more Australian editorial cartoons about Trump here.


As the Washington Post reported recently:

”An insidious fungus known as fusarium wilt has wiped out tens of thousands of acres of Cavendish plantations in Australia and Southeast Asia over the past decade. And the fungus recently gained a foothold in Africa and the Middle East, hitching a ride on the boots of workers helping to establish new plantations.

“Scientists say Latin America, the source of virtually all the bananas eaten in the United States, is next.”

I've been reading these warnings for at least a year. Bananas are my favorite fruit. Besides how good they taste and how they go with so many other foods, they come in their own nice, neat packaging, they don't drip down your chin or arm like peaches, oranges and some apples, and they are as sweet as any fancy dessert.

Cavendish is the name for the banana most of us know, the one banana producers have grown almost exclusively for many years and the one that is succumbing to disease:

”William Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food, one of the largest producers and importers of bananas, said in an email that the company is 'looking at how to develop a disease resistant banana through crop improvement and plant breeding methods,' but he didn’t go into specifics.

“Requests for comment from the three other top banana producers went unanswered,” reports the Washington Post.

There is additional information about how we have come to point of possibly losing bananas altogether at Wired.


You can't have missed the news that an American actress, Meghan Markle, is engaged to marry into the British royal family, Prince Harry to be specific.

For the past five years or so, Markle has played Rachel Zane on one of my favorite TV dramas, Suits. I got a good laugh at what her co-star Patrick J. Adams (who plays her TV fiance, Mike Ross) tweeted when he first heard the engagement news:


Later Adams sent this further message on Twitter and Instagram:

“Playing Meghan’s television partner for the better part of a decade uniquely qualifies me to say this: Your Royal Highness, you are a lucky man and I know your long life together will be joyful, productive and hilarious. Meghan, so happy for you, friend. Much love.”

Here is a very short vid of the official engagement announcement:


Here is part of one answer to that age-old question, and it's been a long time since I've heard anyone have as much fun with wordplay:

”How would I tell you, for example, that one of my chickens seems depressed? I might say she’s brooding, that she’s cooped up because she’s no spring chicken. Same thing I might say about your or me of course, but with my broody hen getting her feathers ruffled there is no metaphor involved. When I tell you I get up with the chickens, I mean it!”

You can listen to or read the transcript of Dan Libman's full answer here.

Reed Scherer made a rebuttal to Libman's argument. Here is part of it:

”The classic question you claim to answer was directly stated: 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The question is not, "Which came first, the chicken or the chicken egg?' Given the explicitness of the language, there is in fact an unequivocal answer.”

You can read or listen to Scherer's entire rebuttal here. I find Libman's answer much more persuasive - or, anyway, more fun.

Thank TGB reader Cathy Johnson for this edifying debate.


Time was that I was fairly good at figuring out what had gone wrong when my email or web browser wasn't working.

In recent years that has changed – I'm not as good at techie things as I used to be - and I think this Wizard of Id answer, which TGB's Sunday music columnist Peter Tibbles sent, is as good as any other when computer things go wrong.


Many more cartoons at GoComics.


The name of the construction workers in this iconic photograph are not known, nor is the name of the photographer who was brave enough to get the shot.

Here is the story behind the famous image of these men having lunch 800 feet above the ground.


Here we go again - I cannot resist cross-species friendships.

As the YouTube page tells us, a dog and a pigeon might seem like unlikely friends, but Oscar and Pipi are inseparable when they go for walks by the beach.

That's because Oscar the pigeon was hand-raised by documentary maker Barry Ion and now thinks he's a human, even treating his own kind with “disdain.”

There is more to know about Oscar and Pipi at the Daily Mail, and thank Cathy Johnson again today for this item she send in addition to the one above.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

The Amateur Cancer Patient

Aside from a flu now and then, and a mystery illness 40 years ago that was never diagnosed but involved 11 days in hospital, I have never had a serious disease or condition until now.

Throughout my adult years, when I felt sickly or was overly tired there was a reason: too little sleep, too much to drink (when I was young and stupid), too many social evenings back to back. In regard to the last one, I've always had a rule to not be out and about two nights in a row, but that wasn't always possible to keep.

Things are different nowadays. The evening schedule is easy to keep without as many social obligations as when I was working and I have hardly had a bad day in these 12 or 13 years since I retired.

That is, if you don't count a couple of colds. In my old age, a cold feels as bad as a flu did in my younger years and have required bed rest. But I haven't had one if five or six or more years.

Generally, I'm amazed at how good I feel – in fact, enough so to fantasize now and then that someone has made a terrible mistake and I don't have cancer. Of course, that's not true but my sense of it reinforces the point that until now I had no idea one can have a frightening disease and feel normally healthy.

But now I cannot count on that every day.

On Tuesday, I had a 9AM appointment for an interview with a local reporter. I'm at my best both physically and mentally early in the day. I'd had a restful night's sleep and should have felt as good as I do on my best days. But my ass was dragging and all I really wanted to do was go back to bed.

Why should be this be? Chemotherapy might be a reason: in addition to the infusions I undergo each week, I take oral chemo pills twice a day and this week was at the end of the 21 day cycle before a week off.

That's a guess although the nurses told me early on that fatigue would probably become a problem during the six months of chemo treatment and would increase as time passed. But aside from the short period of low red blood cell count a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't noticed.

Maybe the cancer itself causes me to be tired although I like to think that the chemo treatments are killing off those bad cells.

Or perhaps it's how busy having such a big-deal disease keeps me (which I wrote about here). And the daily cancer chores seem to increase as time passes – one of them being more nap time because the chores wear me down.

The fact is, I'm not just an amateur at cancer treatment, I'm also an amateur at anything less than good health, and not feeling entirely well is a new experience I have not integrated into my life yet.

I've always been able to count on feeling good enough to do whatever I have planned or comes up on a given day. No more. Learning has been my most trusted life-long companion – always a joy. What I hadn't counted was the need to learn some not-so-joyful lessons.