Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lady be good!

"Lady Be Good!" is a 1924 song by the brothers George (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics). This song marked their first Broadway collaboration; a musical about a brother and sister who are both in dire financial straits, but both remained helpful to one another. It starred Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire. It ran for 330 performances in its original Broadway run.

A rendition of this song became a huge hit for Ella Fitzgerald when she recorded it in 1947.  Notable with her scat solos, the song became identified with her, and it had become a regular part of her live performance repertoire.
Hailed as one of America’s important composers, George Gershwin (1898-1937) along with his brother, Ira (1896-1983), collaborated to create timeless music for some of Broadway’s remarkable musicals – “Lady Be Good, “Strike Up The Band,” “Showgirl,” and “Funny Face.” There was also their folk opera "Porgy and Bess” which produced the hit song, “Summertime,” as well as George’s orchestral works, “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American In Paris.”

His music had become classic standards and no respectable jazz artist would be without a Gershwin in his repertoire. Balladeers from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennet, as well as song stylists from George Michael to Rod Stewart had delved into the Gershwin catalog. And filmmakers like Woody Allen had used Gershwin's orchestral work as soundtrack to his film "Manhattan."

His songs — such as “ ‘S Wonderful,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “But Not For Me” — will remain forever etched in most music lovers’ hearts.

According to Jane Erb’s biography of this great American composer, “He never experienced a dry spell or the composer's equivalent of writer's block, and he was equally adept at composing music to which words were added or fitting music to book and lyrics already written, as he did in Porgy and Bess.” And always a self-promoter, “He loved nothing more than parties where he could (and did) monopolize the evening at the piano, playing and singing his own works for the friends who adored him.’

George Gershwin (named Jacob Gershovitz at his birth on September 26, 1898) was the second of four children born to Morris and Rose Gershovitz, Russians who had immigrated to New York and married in America. He died on July 11, 1937 of brain tumor.

Incidentally, my father immensely adored Gershwin's music -- both in standard and jazz forms. Suffice it to say, it was Gershwin's music that marked my introduction to jazz while growing up. When I started singing as a youngster, my father played me Frank Sintra’s recording of “Someone To Watch Over Me" and asked me to learn it. Since his death when I was 15, every time I find myself alone and in desperate situations, I would sing this song to myself to assuage my anxiety.

My most favorite version of this song is the one recorded by Heb Alpert as sung by him and embellished with his haunting trumpet solo.

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  1. Indeed, those songs will be forever utilized in new arrangements as well as loved as the originals♫

    1. Yes, that's true. Those songs will go through various renditions/arrangements, especially in the genre of jazz. But hopefully, many younger artists, like Michael Buble, will promote standard versions.

  2. Thanks for this post. It's good to mention two such great composers as George and Ira Gershwin! Good choice.

    1. My pleasure ... and many thanks, too, Reader Wil! I'm glad I discovered ABC Wednesday because it inspires me to post smart blog posts :)

  3. Yes. I LOVE the Gershwins. Great artists.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    1. They were incredible artists, and their collaborative efforts pretty much remind me of Burt Bacharach's and Hal David's.

      Many years ago, in NYC, I saw an old black & white film on George Gershwin's life played by Robert Alda, Alan's father.

  4. She's beautiful!

    Catching up with ABC. Got busy the past couple of days and just now have the time to visit entries.

    Leaping Chipmunk
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  5. My husband has quite a collection that you mentioned. That music will NEVER die... Your post was most interesting and well said.

    1. Your collection will provide you with great music by some of America's finest artists, Wanda :)