[Dixielandjazz] Songs for us old folks.
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 13 08:24:08 PDT 2011
For us old folks, songs from the World War 2 years are still fresh
in our ears. Wish I'd seen this show. Funny thing is, that at our
prostate cancer survivor gig last sunday, we had requests for, and
played many of the songs mentioned here. Like "It's Been a Long, Long
Time", "Ill Be Seeing You", Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree", "G.I.
Jive" and one not mentioned, "I'll Be Home For Christmas".
Wartime Songs Keep Luster From Long Ago and Far Away
NY TIMES - By ZACHARY WOOLFE - JUNE 12., 2011
“Someone Talked!” the World War II propaganda poster screams. A
terrified young soldier, drowning, points his finger in accusation
toward the viewer, with the implication that his friend’s or
neighbor’s gossip about his ship’s location was overheard by a German
The poster lent its title to a concert of songs from the period
performed at the Metropolitan Museum on Friday evening by the mezzo-
soprano Joan Morris, the tenor Robert White and the pianist (and
celebrated song composer) William Bolcom. Hazen Schumacher provided
Mr. Bolcom and Ms. Morris are married, and the show was a cozy,
familial affair well stocked with little anecdotes — Mr. Bolcom’s
memories of his boyhood newspaper route, Ms. Morris’s story about
Frederick Siebel, who designed the “Someone Talked!” poster — and
gentle laughter: more a casual get-together for “Bill, Joanie and
Bobbie,” as Mr. Schumacher called them at one point, than an
exhaustive, formal survey.
But the 28 selections, by names like Loesser and Mercer and Berlin,
gave a good sense of the range of work during the period, from peppy
anthems to melancholy ballads. The audience was told to “just imagine
you’re in a radio station during World War II,” but the mood was
really closer to Mr. Schumacher’s observation about Eddie DeLange and
Sam H. Stept’s stirring “This Is Worth Fighting For,” which closed the
first half: “It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting in music.”
Mr. White’s sweet tenor warmed up as the concert progressed,
culminating in a series of intimate confessions that he delivered with
expert, easy grace: perfectly wrought songs like “It’s Been a Long,
Long Time,” “Long Ago and Far Away” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.” As
“Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)” proved, Mr.
White is also — good to know — a first-rate whistler.
Ms. Morris, a wonderful artist who introduced many of Mr. Bolcom’s
works, including his masterpiece, “Songs of Innocence and of
Experience,” pointed the texts of her selections with purpose, but she
sometimes aimed for unrealistically big, high climaxes. It was brave,
but it wasn’t always pretty.
When the range was more congenial, and she settled on a charming
speech-song, she was quietly moving, as in Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s
“Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night in the Week),” far more
devastating here than in Frank Sinatra’s suave version, and “I Came
Here to Talk for Joe.” Mr. Bolcom’s accompaniment was self-effacingly
It’s natural for an evening bathed in nostalgia to value the era it’s
depicting, but there’s never a good reason for the infamous
proclamation that Mr. Schumacher made in reference to the cute Johnny
Mercer lyrics for “G.I. Jive,” which play on Army abbreviations. “They
don’t make ’em like that anymore”? They do, and sometimes even better,
but these 28 were pretty darn good.
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