A Reason To Be Living

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about whatever we want for today, as it is the last day of this challenge.  I have had so much fun participating in this Love Is In Da Blog song challenge and this seems like a good time to thank Bee for hosting it.  What to choose, there are so many songs that I have not gotten to yet.  I messed up the favorite song from the country that I love the most, as I thought Bee was looking for a country song and it was supposed to be a patriotic song and I could have used Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’, or the Grateful Dead song ‘US Blues’, but that is water under the bridge now.  I have already written about the song ‘At Last – My Love Has Come Along’, so I thought about going with the Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’, or Stephen Stills ‘Love The One You’re With’ The Shirelles ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, or Eric Clapton ‘Wonderful Tonight’, but I decided to go with Love Is a Many Splendored Thing’.

This song was composed by Sammy Fain and the lyrics were written by Paul Webster.  Paul was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award.  Two of his three Academy Award wins were in collaboration with Sammy Fain.  He wrote lyrics for some Shirley Temple films, but then he went back to freelance writing.  His first hit was a collaboration in 1941 with Duke Ellington on the song ‘I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)’.  In 1972, Paul Webster and Sammy Fain were both inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Sammy Fain was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award for best song and, with lyricist Paul Francis Webster, won twice, with the first coming in 1953 for ‘Secret Love’, from the film Calamity Jane, and the second in 1955 for ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’, from the film of the same name.  Sammy composed songs for more than 50 films and among his best-known tunes are, ‘Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella’, ‘Tender is the Night’ and ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, all of which became standards.  Fain died on December 5, 1989 and Webster died on March 18, 1984.

The song was also used for the soap opera Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, which was based on the movie, and it ran from 1967 to 1973.  The Four Aces reached their peak with ‘Love Is a Many Splendored Thing’, the first song specifically written for a motion picture to hit No. 1 during the rock era.  The Four Aces consisted of Al Alberts, Dave Mahoney, Lou Silvestri, and Rosario “Sod” Vaccaro.  They had a number of songs that made the charts, including ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’, ‘Mr. Sandman’, ‘Heart of My Heart’ and ‘Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’.  Ultimately, the group had 30 Top 40 hits.

There is nothing more important than love in our lives and although this word is used to describe many feelings, over the centuries poets and authors have tried to define love, only to discover that it is like a soup made up of many ingredients.  Love can be an intense feeling of deep affection that drives people toward intimacy, or makes you want to care for someone, or become attracted to another, or something that allows you to make a commitment and stay attached to somebody.  The Greeks coined the phrase, “lovesick” and both Plato and Socrates described this emotion of love as being a serious mental disease.

In 1952, Han Suyin, the prolific Eurasian author became an international literary sensation when she published her book A Many-Splendored Thing.  The book was based on her romance with Ian Morrison, a married war correspondent who in 1950 became one of the first journalists killed in the Korean War.  The tale of forbidden love, which reviewers compared to Romeo and Juliet, was also politically topical, mixing revolution and romance with news making headlines in Hong Kong, China and Korea.  The 1955 film Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, featured two of the biggest stars in Hollywood, William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

The 1955 Romance Drama from 20th Century Fox was directed by Henry King and was filmed in Hong Kong.  The Eurasian Han Suyin half Chinese and half English is an overworked doctor who throws herself into work after the death of her husband.  She meets war correspondent Mark Elliott and reluctantly falls in love with him.  There was a famous scene where she agrees to go swimming with him.  They change into their suits on a small beach.  She lets her hair down as he reclines on a towel bearing his shaved chest gazing at her.  Suddenly they decide to swim across an inlet to an inviting home owned by friends of Dr. Han’s.  The swim is enchanting and gives a promise of things to come.  They climb stairs partially submerged in the sea and surprise their hosts.  They have a lovely dance while the others watch them (and speculate) while the title tune plays.  Later in their hotel room Mark quotes a passage by Francis Thompson the nineteenth century English poet and mystic from his poem called Kingdom of God.  “The angels keep their ancient places;– Turn but a stone, and start a wing! ‘Tis ye, ‘tis your estranged faces, That miss the many-splendored thing.”  This was this line that gave Han Suyin the title of her novel.

Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early Spring
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king
Once on a high and windy hill, In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed and the world stood still
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s a many splendored thing
Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early Spring
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king
Once on a high and windy hill, In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed and the world stood still
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s a many splendored thing

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “My Choice”.

We Felt This Magical Fantasy

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite song from a film.  I chose ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ which was sung by the duet of Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes and this song appeared in the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing.  John De Nicola, Donald Markowitz collaborated to write the music for this song and Frank Previte wrote the lyrics.  It is an iconic moment in Dirty Dancing when Baby played by Jennifer Grey and Johnny played by Patrick Swayze dance to ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’, as this was the final song in the movie.  The musical scores on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack were selected by John Morris and this album was a huge commercial success.  The film’s soundtrack started an oldies music revival, and demand for the album caught RCA Records by surprise.  Before a single had even been released, there were a million albums on back-order.  The Dirty Dancing album spent 18 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album sales charts and went platinum eleven times, selling more than 39 million copies worldwide and going on to became one of the best-selling albums of all time.  Nicola, Markowitz and Previte won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for this song and Medley and Warnes won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Jimmy Ienner was the key music producer for the 1987 film Dirty Dancing and co-executive who produced the soundtrack with Bob Feiden.  Jimmy is an American music producer, best known for producing albums for such artists as Bay City Rollers, The Raspberries and Three Dog Night.  Along with his brother Don Ienner they represented artists like Grand Funk Railroad, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Air Supply and Eric Carmen.  He has been awarded 85 gold and platinum albums, multiple Grammys and two Oscars, including one for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  Bob Feiden is a pop talent scout and consultant to RCA Records, who read the script for Dirty Dancing, and he immediately recognized the potential for music in the script, because it involved youth, dancing and coming of age.  RCA gave Ienner about $400,000 to work with on this film.  The songs were expensive, and ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ cost close to $70,000, while the others cost between S20,000 and S30,000 apiece.  Michael Jeffrey Lloyd supervised the music soundtrack for the movie Dirty Dancing, and produced the hit ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’.  He was also the producer for teen idol pop stars like The Osmonds and Shaun Cassidy and he worked with Belinda Carlisle, Barry Manilow and many others.

John Morris was an American film, television and Broadway composer, dance arranger, conductor, and trained concert pianist who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Song for the opening theme of Blazing Saddles as well as the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on The Elephant Man.  Morris worked with Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, creating the scores for many of their classic comedies, including Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs.  Morris helped Brooks create the music for his first film, The Producers.  John Morris passed away on Jan. 25, 2018 at the age of 91.

Don Markowitz began his career playing bass for Speedo and the Cadillacs and he performed at the Apollo Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, the Cotton Club and Roseland Ballroom.  He has produced, written, recorded and worked with Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bill Medley, and may more amazing artists and musicians and James Taylor sung on his records.  Franke Previte was the front man in the New Jersey pop rock group Franke And The Knockouts, who had a #10 hit in 1981 with ‘Sweetheart’.  Franke Previte and John De Nicola were songwriting partners and Don Markowitz was a friend of John’s and one day, while Franke was driving down the Garden State Parkway he happened to be listening to this instrumental track and he started grunting nonsense and then he scribbled ‘time of my life’, saying that his inspiration came from the man upstairs.  Previte and Nicola also wrote ‘Hungry Eyes’ which was performed by Eric Carmen in this film.

Ienner wanted the title tune to have a period feel and was set on getting Sixties soul singer Bill Medley to sing it.  Bill Medley thought Dirty Dancing was a porno movie and the former Righteous Brother was reluctant to be a part of it, and also his previous duet with Gladys Knight, ‘Loving on Borrowed Time’, for the soundtrack of Stallone’s Cobra had flopped, so he wasn’t that eager to do another soundtrack song.  Ienner offered to move the record session from New York to Los Angeles so that Medley could be close to his pregnant wife Paula, and that was when Medley reconsidered.  ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ became Medley’s third Number 1 single and it marked the longest span between Number 1 hits for an artist being twenty-two years and ten months.

Jennifer Warnes was selected to be Medley’s partner for this song, and she was already known for her successful ‘Right Time of the Night’ which became a Top Ten hit single in 1977.  She had achieved status in the business, with three more theme songs to her credit including ‘It Goes Like It Goes’ from Norma Rae (1979), ‘One More Hour’ from Ragtime (1981), and a Number 1 hit in 1982 with Joe Cocker, ‘Up Where We Belong’ from An Officer and a Gentleman.  All three songs received Academy Award nominations for Best Song from a Motion Picture and ‘It Goes Like It Goes’ and ‘Up Where We Belong’ both won.  ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ became Warnes’s second Number 1 single.

This ultra-romantic love song beat out 150 other songs that were being considered for the film’s climactic scene.  This song is an elegant, deeply emotional ballad where lovers openly express their feelings for each other.  Bill Medley says that he owes the time of his life to his woman and Jennifer Warnes comes in saying the same thing back to him.  The tempo increases as Johnny and Baby start to dance around, then Medley says, “finally found someone to stand by me” which Warnes responds with, “We saw the writing on the wall, And we felt this magical fantasy”.  They sing together, “Now with passion in our eyes There’s no way we could disguise it secretly’.  Johnny spins Baby around repeatedly as Medley and Warnes continue singing, “So we take each others hand ‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency”.  As the song progresses Johnny the dance instructor goes out into the audience to get the crowd up on their feet and dancing, while Baby wearing a pink dress watches from the stage.  She is lifted down and then she runs and leaps into the waiting arms of Johnny, who lifts her high in the air.  The crowd cheers as they are all having the time of their lives and everyone is dancing.

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt like this before
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you

‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you

I’ve been waiting for so long
Now I’ve finally found someone to stand by me
We saw the writing on the wall
And we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each others hand
‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency

Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love

Because I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
Hey baby

With my body and soul
I want you more than you’ll ever know
So we’ll just let it go
Don’t be afraid to lose control, no

Yes, I know what’s on your mind when you say
“Stay with me tonight” (stay with me)
And remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love

Because I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve searched through every open door (never felt this way)
Till I found the truth
And I owe it all to you

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before (never felt this way)
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you

I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before (never felt this way)
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life (I had time of my life)
And I’ve searched through every open door (you do it to me, baby)
Till I found the truth (you do it to me, baby)
And I owe it all to you

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “Favorite Love Song from a Film”.

Gliddy Glub Gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite Love Song in a musical and I picked the song ‘Good Morning Starshine’ from the 1967 musical Hair that was made famous by Oliver.   This song was written by two hippies Gerome Ragni and James Rado along with a Canadian composer Galt Mac Dermot who wrote all the music.  This pop song was a No. 3 hit in the United States in July 1969 and a No. 6 hit in the United Kingdom in October 1969, for Oliver.  ‘Good Morning Starshine’ is a song from the second act of the musical, that is performed by the character Sheila who is trying to escape the reality of Claude’s pending Army induction.

In 1964, Gerome Ragni and James Rado set out to write about the young people who were hanging out in the East Village, growing their hair and dodging the draft.  Rado had written music for his own pop band, he and Ragni decided to concentrate on lyrics and dialogue and find a composer to set their words to music.  After several false starts, they met Galt Mac Dermot, who was a conservative-looking husband and father who had never heard of a hippie when he met the shaggy-haired duo.  He had, however, released an influential album called Shapes of Rhythm, and Rado realized immediately that Mac Dermot was the man to help bring his characters to life.

If you are wondering why I think that ‘Good Morning Starshine’ is a love song, it is because this song represents the essence of the Summer of Love and all the free love that was taking place in this time period.  I am brought into an emotionally enhanced mental state every time I hear this song, as it represents a love for humanity, which emanated in the hippy community and beyond that to the entire world.  This love expands even further, being spread beyond Earth throughout the whole universe.  Sure it is full of meaningless made up silly phrases, but if you have a deep love for the universe, or if you have ingested enough LSD, you acquire this total freedom that was a big part of the sixties.

The musical Hair was controversial in 1968, with its rock music, hippies, nude scene, multiracial cast and anti-war irreverence.  It was billed as The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and it follows a young group of hippies fighting the establishment, dodging the drafts, getting high, living and loving in New York City.  It takes place in 1967 where the Vietnam War was raging and the Age of Aquarius is dawning, which is an astrological term denoting that many changes were coming for the entire planet.  Aquarius is an indication of the mystical world consciousness that the hippies possess, an age of peace, love, and positive use of sociological and scientific studies.  When Claude Hooper Bukowski whose birth sign is Aquarius receives his draft notice, he must decide if he will resist the draft like many others have done, or bow to the pressures of society and his conservative parents, thereby sacrificing his ideals and possibly, end up losing his life.  Claude is a naive Oklahoman who was sent off to New York City after being drafted by the Army.  In Central Park, he meets a troupe of free-spirited hippies led by George Berger the Extrovert and they become best friends.  Berger then introduces him to debutante Sheila Franklin, and their Tribe of friends struggle to balance the demands of the harsh and violent world with their dream for a more beautiful and peaceful world.  Wandering around in the streets, having complete freedom of sexuality and using drugs for expression are all completely new for Claude.  Sheila likes Claude, but she feels more attracted to Berger.

Set in an East Village park in 1967, Hair is the musical story of a group of hippies who celebrate peace and love in the shadow of the Vietnam War.  The loose plotline centers on Berger, the charismatic leader of the “tribe”, and Claude, a sweet-natured guy who feels indifferent about being drafted.  Other memorable characters include Berger’s war protester girlfriend Sheila, lovable flower child Crissy, Mick Jagger fan Woof, Claude’s straight-laced parents and many more.  But the real star of Hair is the rocking score, which includes such classic hits as ‘Let the Sun Shine In’, ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Good Morning Starshine’.

There is another great song in this musical, and besides ‘The Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley, this is the only other song that I know of, which mentions the Grateful Dead.  In the title song ‘Hair’ it says, “It’s not for lack of bread, like the Grateful Dead, darlin’.”  The Grateful Dead just formed in 1965 and two years later they made it to just Off-Broadway.

There is some nudity in the musical although not that much, it’s less than a minute, and the set is very dark, but this was controversial 50 years ago.  In the musical Hair, youths protest against war and military service, against intolerance, brutality and the dehumanization of society.  The hippie existence is shown as a possible alternate way of life in which love, happiness and freedom dominate.  When hippies give their opponents and enemies flowers, they are hoping that this gentle gesture of Flower Power will bring about a positive result.

Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below
Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we singing
Our early morning singing song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song

Good morning starshine
There’s nothing in the skies
We met in the sunlight
And my lovers eyes
Good morning starshine
So happy to be
My love and me as we singing
Our early morning singing song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song

Can you hear me singing a song, a love song
Singing a song
Loving a song, laughing a song
Singing a song
Sing the song, song sing, song, song, song, singing
Sing, sing, sing a song

Song, song, song sing, sing, sing, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Yeah, you can sing, sing, sing song, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song, sing

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “favorite Love Song in a Musical”.

Gonna Rise Up Singing

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite Love Song from an Opera.  The first thing that I did was to look for an opera that was in English and I found Porgy and Bess which has this lovely song in it titled ‘Summertime’, so that is my choice for today, even though it may not be a love song.  This soothing song from the folk opera Porgy and Bess, started out as a novel in 1926 by Du Bose Heyward called Porgy.  The novel is about a black community in Charleston, South Carolina, and it quickly became a top seller.  A year later, with help from his wife, Dorothy, Heyward turned the book into a Broadway play (without music).  In a musical, the singing is interspersed with passages of dialogue so words come first, while in an opera, the singing never stops and music is the driving force.  George Gershwin read the book and saw the play, and he thought it would make a great stage production.  George worked with his brother Ira, Gershwin and they collaborated with Heyward to bring the novel to the stage as a musical in 1935, which he called a folk opera.  Gershwin explained that Porgy and Bess is a folk tale in operatic form, thus Porgy and Bess becomes a folk opera.

‘Summertime’ is the most famous song from the musical/opera and it appears four times in the production, most notably as a lullaby to help put a baby to sleep.  The lullaby style became very popular and many children grew up hearing this song from their parents, but the variations of the song in the production helped demonstrate the song’s versatility, leading to its recording in a wide range of styles and tempos.  George wrote the song at the Elysee Hotel in Manhattan in his friend Kay Halle’s room.  One night Kay came in after a dinner and she heard George playing the piano and he said, “Sit down, I think I have the lullaby.”

‘Summertime’ is one of the most covered songs of all time, with more than 25,000 known recordings by artists of every kind. Blues singers like Billie Holliday and Janis Joplin were able to identify with this song and they tried to make it their own.  While it has a distinctive style in its original form, something about it makes it endlessly adaptable.  Gershwin wanted to create something in the style of a spiritual, and most critics feel that he succeeded.  ‘Summertime’ gives a lyric writing credit to Ira Gershwin, but it was entirely written by Heywood.  Heyward got his inspiration for the lyrics from a southern folk spiritual-lullaby ‘All My Trials’, which was assembled from fragments of earlier spirituals to sound like a traditional song when it was set to a mysterious Bahamian lullaby.  ‘All My Trials’ was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary as well as Joan Baez. ‘Summertime’ is often considered to be an adaptation of the Afro-American spiritual ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’.

Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston.  It deals with his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer.  The opera plot generally follows the stage play.  The plot followed the trials of the impoverished and poorly educated residents of a poor black neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina.  Porgy traveled about town in small cart pulled by a goat; Bess was a woman of shaky morals, and in some productions she is cast as a prostitute who is controlled by two abusive men: one a thuggish boyfriend and the other a pusher that feeds her drug addiction.  On Catfish Row, Jasbo Brown is playing the blues for a group of dancers.  Clara sings a lullaby to her child ‘Summertime’.  The drug dealer Sportin’ Life, Clara’s husband Jake, and some of the other men are playing craps.  Jake sings his child a lullaby of his own ‘A woman is a sometime thing’.  The beggar Porgy comes in to join the game; he defends Crown’s woman, Bess, who the others are talking about.  When Jake accuses him of being soft on her, Porgy says that he isn’t soft on any woman; God made him a cripple and meant him to be lonely.

On Saturday October 15, 1960, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded together for the first time in a studio in Hamburg and one of the three songs that they recorded was ‘Summertime’.  They were the backing group for Lu Walters, who was the bassist in Rory Storm’s band The Hurricanes, which also featured Starr on drums.  Around six copies of ‘Summertime’ were pressed onto acetate disc, though none are known to have survived.  They also recorded the Peggy Lee hit ‘Fever’ and Kurt Weill’s ‘September Song’ and this was about two years before Ringo became a member of the band.  In August of 1960, the group took Pete Best as their drummer and they changed their name officially to The Beatles while they were playing at a local club called The Kaiserkeller.  Pete Best was out buying new drumsticks on the day of this recording, so Ringo took his place.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “favorite Love Song from an Opera”.

And The Time Lost

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite Love Song in a Foreign language and I chose a French song that is sung by Nina Simone ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’.  The title of the song translates in English to ‘Don’t Leave Me’, or ‘If You Go Away’ and it was written in 1959 by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel.  I might be cheating a bit here because I read that Brel said this song was not a love song, but rather it is “a hymn to the cowardice of men”, and the degree to which they were willing to humiliate themselves.  He knew that it would give pleasure to women who assumed it was a love song.  ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’was written after Brel’s affair with his mistress “Zizou” (Suzanne Gabriello) the Paris impresario who threw him out of her life.  Zizou was pregnant with Brel’s child, but Brel refused to acknowledge the child as his own.  Zizou later had an abortion due to Brel’s actions.

This is a sad but hopeful ballad, the lyrics are told from the perspective of someone telling their lover how much they’d be missed if they left.  The singer pleads for his lover not to leave him, begging earnestly in a self-humiliating tone.  If the lover stays, the narrator promises them both devotion and good times.  Some lines show that the narrator is speaking to the lover as they are already leaving, or considering doing so.  This is a hard break-up that is a real proof of love.  He tries to deny it, that everything will be alright, that “anything can be forgotten” and then he starts to bargain saying, “I will give you pearls of rain from countries where it doesn’t rain”, which is not even possible.  The song is sung in a pleading, desperate manner with voyeuristic, sexual and sinister lyrics, but you always lose something when songs are translated and the English language has a way of taming Brel’s meanings.

Scott Walker recorded several Jacques Brel compositions between 1967 thru 1969.  In 1973, Terry Jacks had a hit with ‘Seasons in the Sun’ which is an English-language adaptation of Brel’s song ‘Le Moribond’ and this song hit number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.  In July 1974, Brel bought a yacht and set off on what was intended to be a circumnavigation of the globe.  But in October, while in the Canary Islands, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He went to Brussels for an operation to remove part of his left lung.  Jacques Brel died from lung cancer in October 1978 at the age of 49.  An amazingly broad selection of rock, pop, jazz, and country artists that have performed his songs includes Glen Campbell, Ray Conniff, John Denver, Dion DiMucci, Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias, Brenda Lee, Olivia Newton-John, Mitch Ryder, the Seekers, Dusty Springfield, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and many others.

Memorable cover versions of this song are done by Sting, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand and Cyndi Lauper, plus the pop standard ‘If You Go Away’ an English version of the tune which was made famous by singer/poet Rod McKuen.  The wistful song, with its alternating happy and sad lyrics and lush melody, became a pop standard recorded by dozens of singers, including Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond.  Nina Simone recorded this song on her June 1965 I Put a Spell on You album.  Simone’s cover is a beauty to listen to, and it is easy to became enamored with her rendition.

There is something about French, a certain je ne sais quoi (I do not know what) that makes it sound so sexy.  French is a syllable-timed language which means that the duration of every syllable is perceived as being equal. English, on the other hand, is a stress-timed language, thus English speakers divide stresses so that they are separated by equal amounts of time, not by syllables.  The iambic pentameter of Shakespeare (which I am not getting into) is a good example of how stresses work in English.  Maybe my fascination with French stems from them writing the book on kissing with their deep amorous kiss, where the participants’ tongues extend to explore each other’s lips and reach inside their partner’s mouths.

Nina Simone’s career spanned over four decades from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic ‘I Loves You Porgy’, to ‘A Single Woman’, the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album.  Her music was enjoyed by the masses due to the CD revolution, discovery on the Internet, and exposure through movies and television.  Nina sold over one million CDs in the last decade of her life, making her a global catalog best-seller.  Nina recorded more than 40 original albums in her career.  Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003 at the age of 70 after battling breast cancer and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Don’t leave me
We must forget
All can be forgotten
That has already passed away
Forget the time
Of misunderstandings
And the time lost
Trying to know “how”
Forget those hours
That sometimes kill
With slaps of “why”
The heart of happiness
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me

I will give to you
Pearls made of rain
From countries
Where it never rains
I will work the land
All my life and beyond
To cover your body
With gold and with light
I will make a land
Where love will be king
Where love will be law
Where you will be queen
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me

Don’t leave me
I will invent, for you
Fanciful words
That you’ll understand
I will tell you
About those lovers
Who have twice seen
Their hearts set ablaze
I will tell you
The story of the king
Who died of not having
Ever met you
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me

We’ve often seen
Fire flowing again
From an ancient volcano
Considered too old
It’s said that there are
Fire-scorched lands
That yield more wheat
Than the best April
And when evening comes
With a burning sky
The red and the black–
Are they not joined together?
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me

Don’t leave me
I won’t cry anymore
I won’t talk anymore
I will hide over there
To watch you
Dance and smile
And to hear you
Sing and then laugh
Let me become
The shadow of your shadow
The shadow of your hand
The shadow of your dog
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me
Don’t leave me

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “favorite Love Song in a Foreign language”.

How Blind Can He Be

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite song from the country that you love the most.  I chose ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ from the super group that included Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris off their first album Trio which was released in 1987.  ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ was written by Phil Spector and in the Trio version, Emmylou Harris sings lead vocal.  This song hit Number One on May 16th, 1987, and the album peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums and it got to #6 on the U.S. Billboard 200.  Trio earned the threesome a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, the LP was nominated for Album of the Year, it produced four top ten hits and it sold over 4 million copies worldwide.

This song launched Phil Spector’s career in 1958.  He was a 17-year-old high school senior when he recorded this, and he quickly became a top producer after working with prominent songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  By the time he was 23, he was already a millionaire having produced hits like ‘Be My Baby’ which he co-wrote with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich for the Ronettes and ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ which was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil for The Righteous Brothers.  In the early 1960s a group of musicians, now known as the Wrecking Crew became the house band for Phil Spector and they helped realize his Wall of Sound production style.  He produced the Beatles album Let It Be and worked on solo albums for George Harrison and John Lennon, and after the 1970s, Spector mostly retired from public life. From 2007 to 2009, he was the subject of two trials, the second of which ended in him being convicted of second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson, a struggling 40-year-old actress.  He is serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life and he will be 88 years old before he becomes eligible for parole.  Spector continues to claim his innocence in the murder of Clarkson, saying that she committed suicide.

Phil Spector was inspired to write this in early 1958 by a photograph of his father Ben’s tombstone that said “To have known him was to have loved him.”  Phil changed the tense of the epitaph on the tombstone and matched it to the music of ‘When the Red, Red Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along’, which was written in 1926 by Harry Woods.  Phil’s father, Benjamin Spector was a steelworker who killed himself 9 years earlier, when Phil was 9 years old.  After he died, Phil’s mother moved the family from New York to Los Angeles.

Along with some high school friends, Phil put together a group The Teddy Bears which was named after the Elvis Presley song ‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’, and wrote this so their new vocalist, Annette Kleinbard, would have something new to sing at a recording session.  A radio station in Fargo, North Dakota, began playing ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ regularly, and orders began coming in for the record.  ‘To Know Him Is to Love Him’ went on to become the No. 1 pop song in the nation, topping the Billboard singles chart for three weeks beginning December 1st, 1958.  It sold more than a million copies before Christmas that year and it ended up selling more than two million copies.  Less than a year later, the group disbanded.

The three superstars Parton, Harris and Ronstadt began performing and collaborating together during the 70’s, occasionally appearing on each other’s albums.  Perhaps the best-known of these tracks was their cover of the Pop classic ‘Mr. Sandman’.  Due to scheduling conflicts, and record company politics, it took another decade for a proper album to be recorded and released.  The three iconic women couldn’t really explore each other’s talents to the extent that they wanted to.  However, with Dolly’s recording contract with RCA coming to an end in 1986, the time was certainly right for a collaborative effort.

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt have all received individual distinctions aplenty over the years, with both Dolly and Emmylou being members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Ronstadt a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Dolly Parton has been bestowed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 2019, the Trio will be part of the  Hollywood Walk of Fame getting their own star.  Linda Ronstadt retired in 2011, and it was revealed in 2012 that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  The Trio video features the legendary David Lindley on mandolin.  He founded the band El Rayo-X, and has worked with Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon and Curtis Mayfield.

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I)

I’ll be good to him, I’ll bring love to him
Everyone says there’ll come a day when I’ll walk alongside of him
Yes, just to know him is to love, love, love him
And I do

Why can’t he see, how blind can he be
Someday he’ll see that he was meant for me, oh yes

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I) yes I do (and I do, and I) yes I do

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “favorite country song”.

She Said To My Surprise

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite Heartbreak Song, so I chose ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ by The Four Seasons.  According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as of January 2012, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ is one of the 16 songs from 1962 that is in The Top 500 Most Influential Rock Songs.  This was initially a list of 500 songs, but it was later updated with another 160 songs.  ‘Walk Like A Man’ also made this list.  Lead singer Frankie Valli is rated 80th in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.  The Four Seasons made the Top 10 thirteen times and besides Valli the other three bandmates at the time of this recording were Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio.  Nick Massi sang the bass vocals on this track, repeating the phrase “silly boy” and then switching to “silly girl”.  Massi’s vocals were a big part of the group’s early success, but he left the Four Seasons in 1965, as they moved away from the bass sound.  He was temporarily replaced by Charles Calello who in turn was replaced by Joe Long.

Although the Four Seasons were a self-contained performing unit (with road drummers Ron Roach and Joey Cass) and they did play the instruments on many of their records, but their studio recordings were augmented by top session players.  They composed their own material, but their manager Bob Crewe had a core group of Studio musicians that provided the music for a lot of their hit records.  These musicians include Al Gorgoni, Vinnie Bell or Ralph Casale on guitar, Louis Mauro on bass, Buddy Saltzman on drums and Dave Carey or George Devens on percussion.

‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ was written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, and this song arrived at a time when the Four Seasons were already riding high in the charts, a status best evidenced by the fact that it was the group’s second single of 1962 to spend five weeks at #1.  Their previous single, ‘Sherry’, had done the same thing.  In the Jersey Boys movie, Gaudio says that he came up with the song while watching the 1955 Rhonda Fleming/Ronald Reagan movie Tennessee’s Partner.  In the movie, Fleming’s character is slapped in the face, to which she replies, “Big girls don’t cry.”

History is not an exact science, even though it is mostly based on facts, when certain pieces of the puzzle are missing, historians determine what happened by speculation.  Napoleon said that history is what people have decided to agree upon.  It is odd that two different people can have different recollections of the same events, but this happens all the time and contradictory interpretations by various individuals is called the Rashomon effect.  Crewe and Gaudio have different stories as to how they came up with the title of the song, but they both involve John Payne being in a movie with Rhonda Fleming.

Gaudio said that he was watching the 1955 film Tennessee’s Partner when he heard John Payne slap his co-star, Rhonda Fleming, across the face, after which she snapped back, “Big girls don’t cry.”  Inspired, Gaudio scribbled down the line, only to fall asleep immediately thereafter, but when he awoke the next morning, he penned the tune.  Crewe has a different story saying that he got the brainstorm for the title when he woke up to see Payne smacking around Fleming in the 1956 film Slightly Scarlet.  Bob Crewe said, “I was up late one night in my apartment, watching a dreadful movie-I think it was with John Payne and some blonde bombshell.  I had been drinking …and I was drifting in and out of sleep.  I woke up at one point and Payne was smacking the blonde across the face and knocked her on her bottom.  He said something like, ‘Well, whadda ya think of that, baby?’  She gets up, straightens her dress, pushes her hair back, stares at him and says, ‘Big girls don’t cry’, and storms out the door.  I ran and jotted down the line.  The next day we turned it into a song.”  Since the line “Big girls don’t cry” isn’t actually in the movie Tennessee’s Partner, and it is in Slightly Scarlet, Crewe has more credibility with this one.

The Four Seasons sing about this guy who breaks up with his girlfriend, thinking she’ll fall to pieces and he’ll have the upper hand, however his girl calls his bluff about this break up, telling him that “big girls don’t cry.”  He is shocked and he feels like a fool.  This couple breaks up then banters on about whether or not big girls cry.  Everyone cries, girls and boys alike.  By the end of the song, the girl is crying in bed, forced to admit she’d been lying.  This may not be the best example of Heartbreak and I probably should have went with Elvis and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, but it is about a breakup and that can cause heartbreak which can lead to crying.

Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry-yi-yi
(They don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry

(Who said they don’t cry?)
My girl said goodbye-yi-yi
(My oh my)
My girl didn’t cry
(I wonder why)

Told my girl we had to break up
(Silly boy)
Hoped that she would call my bluff
(Silly boy)
Then she said to my surprise
“Big girls don’t cry”

Big girls don’t cry-yi-yi
(They don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry

(Who said they don’t cry?)
Baby I’m a fool
(I’m such a fool)

“Shame on you” your mama said
(Silly girl)
“Shame on you, you’re cryin’ in bed”
(Silly girl)
“Shame on you, you told me lies”
Big girls do cry

Big girls don’t cr-yi-yi
(They don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry

(That’s just an alibi)
Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry
Big girls don’t cry

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “Favorite Heartbreak Song”.