Saturday, April 11, 2020

Irving Berlin and Songs of Sequestering






 “How we love sequestering, 

where no pests are pestering” 



My music-history-loving husband, Gary, has created a radio show based on his selection of songs whose titles somehow tie into 
songs centered on sequestering...... “how we love sequestering, where no pests are pestering” (a line from Mountain Greenery, 1925), the opening song.


Tune in April 10 or 13 (3-6 pm Pacific) 
for Some “Songs of Sequestration”


By Gary Alexander


I’m planning a talk or panel on the centennial of “The Jazz Age” in July (if the event doesn't get cancelled), but my main musical interest is what I call “The Great American Songbook.” 

Before cruise ships were ghosted from the oceans of the world in March, I won my fifth crown in “Name That Tune” on the annual Jazz Cruise in the Caribbean February 6, hosted by clarinetist Ken Peplowski, with the Jazz Cruise musical director Shelly Berg at the piano (pictured below).



Pianist Shelly Berg, “Name that Tune” host Ken Peplowski, and Gary Alexander on The Jazz Cruise February 2020.   Photo credit: www.johnabbottphoto.com and The Jazz Cruise

On Friday, April 10 (repeated Monday, April 13), I’m planning a program of songs devoted to our enforced national sequestration, beginning with “Mountain Greenery,” a 1925 Rodgers & Hart song containing the lines “how we love sequestering where no pests are pestering.” 

After that, I’ll segue into a dozen categories of songs, beginning with social distancing songs (like “Too Close for Comfort”), then some nesting-at-home songs, like a rousing World War II song by Eddie Cantor, “We’re staying home tonight my baby and me, doing the patriotic thing.”

“We’re Staying Home Tonight
My baby and me
Doing the patriotic thing.
I’ve got my income-tax return to hurdle,
And she’ll be saving mileage on her girdle!

Don’t want to roam tonight,
We’re snug as can be,
Being alone is so sublime.
While I sit in my slippers, and munch a piece of fruit,
She’ll iron out the wrinkles in my Victory Suit.

We’re staying home tonight, my baby and me
Doing the patriotic thing.”
--Lyrics by Frank Loesser for the movie, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943)

A more modern expression of the same idea is by the late Bill Withers: “Just the Two of Us,” followed by similar titles like “Just You, Just Me” and that perfect oxymoron “Alone Together.”

There are a wide variety of songs about wanting to travel or eat out (but we can’t). It used to be we can’t afford it, but now we don’t dare. A small sampling would include Sinatra’s seductive siren songs, “Come Fly with Me,” “Come Dance with Me” and “Let’s Get Away from It All.”

I’ll have a special tribute to New York and their great spirit in taking the biggest brunt of this battle, and then songs about how are cities are closed down, with tunes like “It’s a Lonesome Old Town” and “Lonely Town” from the same Bernstein show that brought us “New York, New York” 75 years ago. Two generations will “Come Together” (if that is allowed these days) when Billy Joel and Tony Bennett celebrate Tony’s 90th birthday in “A New York State of Mind.”

Then comes Sound of Silence: “Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars” and a gorgeous song called “Turn up the Quiet” for those suddenly quiet nights at home with no movies, restaurants or shows.

The final hour takes us back to our “Dear Departed Past” in a series of nostalgic songs by Dave Frishberg about baseball’s opening day and what “My Country Used to Be,” including a “Walk Down Wall Street,” with Ira Gershwin’s trenchant verses to songs during the Depression era, beginning, “Let it rain and thunder, let a million firms go under, I am not concerned with stocks and bonds that I’ve been burned with” (the verse to “Who Cares?” 1931) or “The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend, the world and all its capers, and how it all will end” (the verse to “Our Love is Here to Stay,” the last song George Gershwin wrote before dying in July 1937).

The final 20 minutes includes five songs of hope about getting back together again, written in trying times: Frankie Laine’s “We’ll be Together Again” (1945) and Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” (1944) for families split apart by war, with soldiers perhaps not coming home, then “Pick Yourself Up” and “Smile” from 1936, a Depression year, and closing with “Look for the Silver Lining” from 1919, the last year in which America suffered a killer plague like this.

This program is not archived but streams live audio from 3:00 to 6:00 pm Pacific Daylight time Friday, April 10, repeated Monday, April 13 at the same hours. Most computers can link here, but if not go to www.KLOI.org and click “Listen live” and follow the instructions to listen live.


Another great find about sequestering songs!!  

This one thanks to Irving Berlin and Ron Wasserman.




= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

Now here is the whole radio schedule typed up in a slightly different format if you decide to follow along.


APRIL 10 & 13: Gary Alexander’s “Joy Spring” on www.KLOI.org streaming audio, 3-6pm 

“Songs for Sequestration”

3:05      Mountain Greenery                      Bing Crosby                   3:38      (“How I love Sequestering’)

      Social Distancing Songs (+ a bit of “Get Back” by the Beatles)     
3:09 :08  Too Close for Comfort                 Bricker and Harris           3:12      Stay six feet away  
3:12:50  Close to You (though far away)      Frank Sinatra                  3:56      For enforced separations  
3:17:20  Don’t Fence Me in                       Johnny Mercer                2:35      For those Western states


      Nesting-at-Home Songs
3:20:20  We’re Staying Home Tonight        Eddie Cantor                  1:53      1943: “The patriotic thing”
3:22 :30  Just the Two of Us                       Rebecca Dumaine            4:22      Hit song by Bill Withers
3:27 :20  Give Me the Simple Life               Lorez Alexandria             2:15      “a cottage filled w/love & laughter”


      Wish We Could Travel (But Won’t) Songs
3:30      Let’s Eat Home                           Dave Frishberg               3:00      World travelers dining at home
3:33:30  Let’s Take a Walk Around Block   Doris Day                      2:39      Instead of a world cruise
3:36:40  I Wish I could go Traveling Again  Stacey Kent                    4:07      Forgetting the hassles of travel
3:41 :15  Let’s Get Away from It All           Frank Sinatra                  2:09      Dreaming of global travel


      Great American Standards about Sequestering
3:43:45  Don’t Get Around Much Anymore Tony Bennett, Mike Buble 2:41      Missed the Saturday Dance
3:46:30  You’d be so nice to come home to  Jackie Ryan                    4:51      Two People
3:51:40  Alone Together                           Catherine Russell             4:10      Hunkering Down
3:56:10  Just You, Just Me                        Lorez Alexandria             2:23      …how long will it be?


      Lonesome Songs
4:00      It’s a Lonesome Old Town            Woody Herman               3:00      Empty village
4:04      The Lonesome Road                    Frank Sinatra                  3:53      Empty streets
4:12:20  Lonely Town                              Chris Conner,                 4:12      Empty cities


      New York Medley
4:17      New York, Toddlin’ Town            Broadway cast album       1:29      A Tribute to the Apple
4:19      New York, New York Medley       Mel Torme, G. Shearing   6:00      The hardest-hit city
4:25      Do You Miss New York?              Dave Frishberg               3:57      For ex-New Yorkers
4:29:30  New York State of Mind               Billy Joel & Tony Bennett 6:40      From Tony’s 90th birthday party


      Come Together songs: Forbidden Actions now
4:36      Come Together                           Pam Bricker, Rick Harris  4:36      (Don’t you dare)
4:41      Come Fly with Me                       Frank Sinatra                  3:17      Airports are ghost towns
4:44:30  Come Dance with Me                   Frank Sinatra                  2:30      No dancing allowed


      Quiet Songs: From too much talk…to too much quiet?
4:47      Turn up the Quiet – Love Dance     Jeanie Bryson                 8:35      Turn off the TV, quiet descends
4:56      Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars         Frank Sinatra/Jobim         2:45      And the stars appear again


      Matt Dennis Rolls Back the Welcome Matt
5:00      Back in your own back yard          Matt Dennis                   3:05      The Welcome Mat is withdrawn
5:03      In the Gloaming, by the Fireside     Matt Dennis                   2:56      The fireplace reading returns
5:06      Let’s put out the lights & go to bed Matt Dennis                   2:46      Then early to bed


      The Good Old Days as told by Dave Frishberg
5:10      Dear Departed Past                      Dave Frishberg               6:20      The way it was (we think)
5:16:30  Play Ball + Matty                        Dave Frishberg               5:18      Baseball’s opening day (delayed)
5:22      My Country Used to Be                Dave Frishberg               3:18      When did we stop making things?
5:26      A Walk Down Wall Street             Dave Frishberg               4:36      What happened to my savings?
5:31      Quality Time                              Dave Frishberg               3:58      What yuppies used to do


      The Daily News: Ira Gershwin’s Verses about tuning out the News
5:35      Who Cares? (verse)                     Ella Fitzgerald                3:05      Let a million firms go under…
5:38      Our Love is Here to Stay (verse)    Liz Thomas                    3:47      The more I read the papers…      

  
      Finale: “We’ll be together again” songs – all written in bad times
5:42      We’ll be Together again               Tony Bennett, Bill Evans  4:36      Written in 1945: World War II
5:47      I’ll Be Seeing You                       Frank Sinatra                  2:46      Popular in 1944: Troops separated
5:50      Pick Yourself Up                         Rosemary Clooney          2:49      Written in 1936: Depression
5:53      Smile                                        Cyrille Aimee                 3:18      1936 for Chaplin’s “Modern Times”
5:57      Look for the Silver Lining             Rosemary Clooney       







1 comment: