Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Small Moments on a Foggy Day

Cruising east with Roxie the Lab after a walk through the lovely but fogbound dog park at the Berkeley Marina, listening to Jonathan Schwartz on SeriusXM. The fog matches my murky mood. But then Schwartz plays three wonderful songs, wonderfully performed—and fog and mood slowly fade.

First up is Johnny Mercer, a great lyricist who had a parallel career as a singer, particularly in his early days. He’s singing a bluesy something I’d never heard (and not a song whose words he wrote): “I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City.”

I lost my sugar in Salt Lake City
Oh, why did I go there?
I should have stayed down in New Orleans
And never gone nowhere

A man which we talked from Kansas City
His words were sweet like wine
He gave us diamonds & limousines
And stole that gal of mine

At some point, Mercer flows into—for want of a better word—recitative:

Salt Lake City is renowned for it's beauty
The snowcap Sasquatch mountains are nearby
In 1929 the factory output was 43 million dollars
Wholesale trade amounted to
71 million five hundred & ten thousand five hundred & seventy three dollars
Retail trade ninety two million
There's salt beds & farm lands producing
alfalfa, green, sugar beats & vegetables in the vicinity
But as far as I'm concerned
I don't care if I ever set foot there again in Salt Lake City
That town is a nemesis to me

On paper, it sounds odd, but Mercer makes it work, and the recording is a delight.

Next comes Lena Horne with “It’s Love” from the great Bernstein-Comden-Green musical, “Wonderful Town.” A lovely song, beautifully sung:

It’s love, it’s love
Well, who would’ve thought it?
If this is love then why have I fought it?
What a way to feel, I could touch the sky
What a way to feel, I have found my guy

Finally, there’s Fred Astaire backed by the Oscar Peterson Trio (Ray Brown on bass, Alvin Stoller on drums), performing “I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket”:

I've been a roaming Romeo
My Juliets have been many
But now my roaming days have gone
Too many irons in the fire
Is worse than not having any
I've had my share and from now on:

I'm putting all my eggs in one basket
I'm betting ev'rything I've got on you
I'm giving all my love to one baby
Heaven help me if my baby don't come through

This is part of a four LP album released in 1952 as “The Astaire Story” (and yes, it’s available on CD). Wonderful stuff.

As Peterson hits his last note, Roxie and I pull up in front of the house. The sun’s shining, my mood’s lifting, all thanks to some great music. As Astaire sings in “I Got Rhythm”: Who could ask for anything more?
I know: no books, no movies mentioned. Let's just call it droit du bloggeur.


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