Sunday, March 09, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Harold Arlen

Artist:Harold Arlen
Song:One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
Album:St. Louis Woman: Original Cast Album/Harold Arlen and His Songs

Harold Arlen was a songwriting legend. But he started out as a singer in the 20s and occasionally recorded. This recording of One For My Baby is from the 1955 album Harold Arlen and His Songs. He was born Hyman Arluck Feb. 15, 1905 in Buffalo. His father was a synagogue cantor. Arlen learned to play the piano and moved to New York and changed his name to Harold Arlen in his early 20s. Arlen occasionally recorded as a band vocalist for Red Nichols, Joe Venuti and Eddie Duchin. Then he wrote his first big hit Get Happy with Ted Kohler for the 1930 show The Nine Fifteen Revue. Ruth Etting sang it in the show but the song is closely identified with Judy Garland from the 1954 film A Star Is Born. Arlen and Kohler wrote many songs together including Let's Fall In Love and Stormy Weather. Arlen moved to Los Angeles and his biggest success was writing the songs for the 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz with E.Y. Harburg. They won an Oscar for Over the Rainbow. In the 40s, Arlen worked a lot with Johnny Mercer. They wrote One For My Baby for the 1943 film The Sky's The Limit starring Fred Astaire. But the song was popularized by Frank Sinatra in 1947. They also wrote the show St. Louis Woman which ran briefly on Broadway in 1946. Stars included Harold and Fayard Nicholas and Pearl Bailey. The show was protested as racist by the NAACP and the story didn't work anyway. The one song that came out of it was Come Rain or Come Shine. Johnny Mercer was owner of Capitol Records and was a singer himself. So he occasionally gave Arlen the chance to record. Harold Arlen and His Songs was recorded in 1955. Peter Matz arranged and conducted the orchestra. He worked on Arlen's 1954 Broadway show House of Flowers and went on to be Barbra Streisand's first musical director. DRG Records has released the original cast of St. Louis Woman and Harold Arlen and His Songs as a twofer CD. Arlen continued to write in the 60s, most significantly the songs for the 1962 Chuck Jones animated feature Gay Purr-ee. Arlen retired after his wife died in 1970 and he died on Apr. 23, 1986 at age 81. This video clip is from the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954. It's a medley of Harold Arlen songs featuring Arlen, Eddie Cantor, Connie Russell and Frank Sinatra. Arlen plays One For My Baby (And One For The Road) briefly while Cantor is introducing Sinatra. So I am cheating a bit. But it is a cool clip. And it shows that Arlen was a good singer.

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