Saturday, December 29, 2007

19 Versions of STARDUST

Once upon a starry night, Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" was considered the best song ever written. Everbody covered it. These days, few have "Stardust" memories, and "best song" might go to a more modern ballad, like "Yesterday," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," or "Loving You Has Made me Bananas." Over 1800 cover versions have been made, but most were recorded in the 30's and 40's. Since Spanky and Our Gang gave it a shot in 1968, it's been revived rarely, and mostly by retro-chanteuse types, and greasy guys who want to be the new Sinatra or Connick.
For a "best song," this piece is actually pretty quirky. It's not easy to sing and Hoagy was the Bacharach of his day, prone to odd tempos and a key that was usually full of sharps. Few know the words by heart (as opposed to, say, "As Time Goes By"), and these words aren't particularly great ones, either:
"Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie, and I am once again with you, when our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation is in the stardust of a song.
Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright you are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale of paradise where roses grew.
Though I dream in vain, in my heart you will remain my stardust melody
The memory of loves refrain."
Try remembering that, compared to "Yesterday."
Mitchell Parish added the lyrics in 1929, after Hoagy switched "Star Dust" from a jive syncopated jazz piece into the ballad "Stardust." A year later, the first major hit version arrived via Isham Jones, who chose it over "Ish You Ish, Or Ish You Ain't Mah Baby." Or maybe he didn't.
Your 19 song download features a variety of styles. Pick your own 20th as a personal favorite, since it's probably not here.
But here's Dinahs Shore & Washington, Ben Webster, Cab Calloway, Brubeck, Krupa, Coleman Hawkins, Isham Jones, The Ink Spots, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Kaye and even satire (Jackie Vernon). There's country nasal and country swing (Willie and Leon), and since you probably didn't know she could sing, Elke Sommer. Also, a 1933 solo from the Hoagster himself.
Hoagy's name was once synonymous with "songwriter." Either him, or Irving Berlin. "You could be another Hoagy," would've been quite the compliment in the 40's. Now, few could name more than a few of his jumpy little tunes. Oh, they know the songs, like "Georgia On My Mind" but associate someone else with them. No, Ray Charles didn't write that melody, Hoagy did (Hoagy usually wrote just the melodies). "Up a Lazy River" is typically lilting and shows where Bacharach got his shoulder-hunching quirky beats from. "How Little We Know" is a neat syncopated oddity, which Lauren Bacall gamely sang in "To Have and Have Not," and the late great George Harrison was a fan of both "Baltimore Oriole" and "Hong Kong Blues."
For those who have Stardust Memories, recall the Stardust in Vegas, or remember a star with dandruff, here's
star dust in your ears...the rapidshare download disappeared due to one of their typical purges of any file that didn't get downloaded often enough, but it's BACK via the BOX.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LINK IS BROKEN!!Fixx it?!?