Category Archives: Music

Song of the Day #2087

Song of the Day: Gunga Din (“Across the Bridge / Battle at Tantrapur”) [YouTube link], composed by Alfred Newman, is from the 1939 George Stevens-directed adventure film, starring Sam Jaffe in the title role, along with Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Victor McLaglen. Loosely based on the 1890 Rudyard Kipling poem, the film concludes with the same classic line: “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.” But the movie offers up quite an adventure, both comedic and tragic, before we get to that conclusion. There’s been a long debate over the film’s legacy, its British colonialist and racist subtext, and the controversial use of dark make-up in Hollywood. That said, this cue from the score by Alfred Newman is one of his most stirring, a highlight from Hollywood’s Golden Year of 1939. The movie’s adventurous scenes influenced Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and Alfred Newman had a significant impact on Spielberg’s musical comrade, John Williams, to whom our attention turns tomorrow.

Song of the Day #2086

Song of the Day: Three Little Pigs (“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”), words and music by Frank Churchill and Ann Ronell, made its screen debut in the 1933 Disney short, “Three Little Pigs“, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Check out the original version from the short, as well as very different renditions by Barbra Streisand and LL Cool J [YouTube links]. Though neither a pig nor a wolf, Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Groundhog, has predicted an early spring. His prediction has been confirmed by Staten Island Chuck, who has the added virtue of having scuffled with a couple of New York Mayors. Chuck also boasts an 80% accuracy rate, compared to Punxsutawney Phil’s 39% accuracy rate. Either way, in two weeks, pitchers and catchers report to Spring training, and that’s as sure a sign as any that the Vernal Equinox is just around the corner!

The 20th Annual Film Music February Festival / Song of the Day #2085

Song of the Day: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (“Someday My Prince Will Come”), words by Larry Morey, music by Frank Churchill, was first heard in this classic Walt Disney 1937 film. The original version featured in the film is sung by Adriana Caselotti [YouTube link]. While this movie and a promised 2025 reboot have had their share of controversy, this timeless song has become a part of the Great American Songbook. It has been covered by scores of artists, including Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans (below), Miles Davis, and Chick Corea, among jazz instrumentalists, and singers as varied as Barbra Streisand and Sinead O’Connor (in a duet with Andy Rourke) [YouTube links]. Today marks the beginning of my 20th consecutive year celebrating cinematic music in all its hues. I’ll be featuring a few additional songs from the Disney library, along with other original or adapted songs and themes from memorable film soundtracks and scores.

Song of the Day #2084

Song of the Day: Swing 39, composed by jazz violin virtuoso Stephane Grappelli, was first performed with jazz guitar pioneer Django Reinhardt in their days with the Quintette du Hot Club de France. Check out the sweet 1939 original and a swinging 1972 rendition off Grappelli’s album, “Homage to Django” [YouTube links]. I was privileged to see Grappelli in-person twice, with his own band and with David Grisman. Magnifique! On this date in 1908, Grappelli was born—and his musical legacy lives on.

Song of the Day #2083

Song of the Day: Better Call Saul (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”), words and music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, is performed by Juan Garcis Esquivel, in BCS, Season 1, Episode 2 (“Mijo“), which aired on February 9, 2015. Check out the BCS scene in which this track is used, as well as vocal renditions by Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Tony Bennett [YouTube links]. After a long delay due to the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the 75th Annual Emmy Awards, which I tributed in my 2023 Summer Music Festival, will finally air. Tonight, BCS’s final season garnered several Emmy nominations. Despite 53 Primetime Emmy nominations, it has only won 2 technical awards in the Creative Arts category over its 6 seasons. Whatever the outcome tonight, it gets my vote for one of the all-time greatest television series.

Happy New Year: Holiday Vids!

Happy New Year 2024!

On Facebook, I’ve posted a total of nine Holiday Videos. Here, for Notablog readers, are my own site links to each of these videos.

Holiday Vid #1: Charlie Brown & Snoopy (Jingle Bells)

Holiday Vid #2: The Christmas Song Music Box

Holiday Vid #3: Peanuts Christmas (Charlie Brown Theme)

Holiday Vid #4: Christmas Carousel (Joy to the World)

Holiday Vid #5: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Tribute

Holiday Vid #6: Snow Man & Dog Duet (Jingle Bells)

Holiday Vid #7: Christmas at Home (The Christmas Song)

Holiday Vid #8: Happy Solstice! (Let it Snow!)

Holiday Vid #9: Singing Mice (“… and a Happy New Year”)

A Happy & Healthy New Year from All of Us to All of You!

Song of the Day #2082

Song of the Day: MacArthur Park Suite [YouTube link] includes the Jimmy Webb-penned song in a medley with “One of a Kind” and “Heaven Knows“, composed by Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, and Donna Summer, who delivers this nearly 18-minute dance extravaganza on her #1 1978 album, “Live and More“. Today’s date, 12/31/23 (1-2-3-1-2-3), may offer a once-in-a-century numerical sequence. But it’s also the 75th anniversary of the birth of Donna Summer (1948-2012). I danced to her music in my youth and spun it on the turntables as a mobile DJ in college. Back in 2018, I very much enjoyed seeing the Broadway jukebox musical of her life, “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical“. And in 2023, I equally enjoyed HBO’s fine documentary, “Love to Love You: Donna Summer“. Nothing like a little Old School Dancing to bring in a New Year!

Song of the Day #2081

Song of the Day: I’m Playing the Field features the words and music of Steve Allen, who was born on this date in 1921. Allen was the original host of “The Tonight Show” (1954-1957). Much more than that, he was a multitalented artist—a comedian, composer, musician, and actor (most notably in the title role of the 1956 film, “The Benny Goodman Story“). This song was originally written for a 1956 television musicial production, “The Bachelor“, but it’s sung here in swinging style by Steve Lawrence on the first installment of “Steve Allen’s Music Room” in 1983 (in which he appeared along with his wife, singer Eydie Gorme). With a wonderful band led by vibraphonist Terry Gibbs and with Allen on percussion, check out this live performance on YouTube. An earlier version was recorded by Andy Williams in 1956 [YouTube].

Song of the Day #2080

Song of the Day: The Secret of Christmas, words and music by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy van Heusen, was written for Bing Crosby, who performed this song in the 1959 film, “Say One for Me“. Check out the film’s rendition, by Bing, with assistance from Debbie Reynolds and Robert Wagner [YouTube link]. The song has been covered by many artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Julie Andrews, and violinist Joshua Bell, whose recording with singer Michael Feinstein is lovely. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, especially among my friends and family. The spirit of the holiday, however, is universal, with its message of “Peace on earth, Goodwill toward all.”

Song of the Day #2079

Song of the Day: Merry Christmas, words and music by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre, made its debut in the 1949 musical, “In the Good Old Summertime“, sung by Judy Garland. This film was a musical adaptation of “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940), and both films were shown back-to-back last night on Turner Classic Movies. The plot was also adapted in the 1998 film, “You’ve Got Mail“. But in a song that features the lyrics: “Dream about your hearts desire, Christmas Eve when you retire, Santa Claus will stop and I know he’ll drop, Exactly what you wanted from your chimney top”, I couldn’t help but feature it today! Make sure you’re tracking Santa on NORAD! Check out the original Garland rendition, as well as renditions by Johnny Mathis and Bette Midler [YouTube links].