Harold Arlen Sings Arlen: selected recordings, 1932-1954


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Harold Arlen portrait, at pianoHarold Arlen sings

Music by Harold Arlen for all songs except “Smoke Rings”

1932

Stepping Into Love (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — This is an independent song, not associated with any show, and (according to Fadograph’s Weblog) it became the first song recorded by Reisman featuring Arlen as the vocalist. It was recorded on 19 January 1932 and issued on Victor 22913, with flip-side “Tango Americana”, recorded by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra.

Audio file, from archive.org:

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1933

Arlen-Koehler-33-stormyweatherStormy Weather(m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)
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Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — the recording date of the second Reisman recording to feature Harold Arlen as vocalist is unknown; issued as the B-side of Victor single 24716, “Night and Day” (vocal by Fred Astaire, recorded on 22 November 1932)

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Let’s Fall in Love (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Keohler) — written for the 1933 film Let’s Fall in Love

Harold Arlen with orchestra conducted by Ray Sinatra — recorded 1 November 1933; issued on Victor 24467, c/w “This Is Only the Beginning” (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler), another song from the film

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Smoke Rings (m. H. Eugene Gifford, w. Ned Washington)

The Casa Loma Orchestra recorded Gifford’s instrumental composition in 1932, and it soon became their theme song. A 25 January 1933 recording by the Mills Brothers may have been the earliest to incorporate Washington’s lyric, but the copyright date for the vocal version is almost two months later, 31 March 1933.

Harold Arlen-photo-17-1-d30leo-reisman-at-villa-at-cap-martin-1937-1

Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — recorded on 11 July 1933 and issued as Victor (US) 24358, b/w “Heart of Stone” (vocal: Fred Astaire) — According to the video DJ, gramophoneshane, the disc being spun is HMV no.EA1250 (Australian).

audio files from archive.org:

VBR MP3 (1.9 MB)

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Ogg Vorbis (933.8 KB)

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leo-reisman-orch-starlight-roof-q-t0-f20

(above) Leo Reisman and his Orchestra

Happy As the Day Is Long (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

The Virtual Victrola says,

Harold Arlen and Ted KoehlerArlen and Koehler penned this song for the 22nd Cotton Club Parade in 1933. Other Arlen-Koehler tunes from this show include “Get Yourself A New Broom (And Sweep The Blues Away),” “Raisin’ The Rent,” and the immortal “Stormy Weather.” Originally Cab Calloway’s orchestra was scheduled to accompany the show, but other obligations (due no doubt to Cab’s meteoric rise to fame) kept him away from the Cotton Club. So Duke Ellington accepted the club owners’ offer to rejoin the stage show — the spot that first boosted Ellington to stardom four years earlier.

Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, vocals: Harold Arlen (singer), Reisman and Arlen (spoken) — recorded on 2 May 1933; issued as the B-side of Victor 24315, “The Gold Diggers’ Song” (vocal: Fred Astaire)

MP3 audio file from The Virtual Victrola:

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Harold Arlen with Anya Taranda and others-d10hx15Harold Arlen and Anya Taranda

1934

1934 Ill Wind (Arlen-Koehler) 24th Cotton Club Parade-d50-s3-c1a

Ill Wind (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

“Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good)” was written for the 24th Edition of the Cotton Club Parade, the last on which the songwriting team of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler worked. The show opened on 23 March 1934. The song was introduced by Adelaide Hall. Another Arlen-Koehler standard, “As Long As I Live,” was also introduced in this show.

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Harold Arlen — solo, piano and vocal — recorded on 6 February 1934; issued as Victor 24569, c/w “As Long As I Live”

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Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — recorded on 28 February 1934; issued as Victor 24579A, b/w “As Long As I Live”

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1934 You're A Builder Upper, Life Begins At 8.40Ray Bolger, Luella Gear, Frances Williams, and Bert Lahr-- Life Begins At 8.40, 1934

From the Broadway musical Life Begins At 8:40 — Winter Garden Theatre (8/27/1934 – 3/16/1935) — music: Harold Arlen, lyrics: Ira Gershwin and E.Y. Harburg

  • Ray Bolger, Life Begins At 8.40, 1934What Can You Say In a Love Song
  • You’re A Builder Upper
  • Fun To Be Fooled
  • Shoein’ the Mare

Four 27 July 1934 recordings by Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, with vocals by Harold Arlen, for the Brunswick label:

Audio files, from archive.org:

What Can You Say In a Love Song — issued on Brunswick 6941, c/w “You’re A Builder Upper”

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You’re A Builder Upper — issued on Brunswick 6941, c/w “What Can You Say In a Love Song”

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Fun To Be Fooled issued on Brunswick 6942, c/w “Shoein’ the Mare”

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Rumba dancers perform Shoeing the Mare, LIFE Magazine, 4 April 1938, p.67 (1,2)-c1

Rumba dancers perform Shoeing the Mare, LIFE Magazine, 4 April 1938, p.67 (3)-c1-hx15

(above) Rumba dancers in Havana perform the Cuban folk dance “Shoeing the Mare”, from an article in the LIFE Magazine 4 April 1938 issue, pp. 66-69

Shoein’ the Mare – issued on Brunswick 6942, c/w “Fun To Be Fooled”

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“Shoein’ the Mare” (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ira Gershwin, E. Y. Harburg)
lyric transcribed by doc, 29 December 2013

verse:
This is a dance from Las Fritas *
Las Fritas is in Havana
On account of which this music is Cuban
It isn’t like “Carioca”
Nor is it like “Peanut Vendor”
They call it “Shoein’ the Mare”
You may like it
You may hate it
Anyway, here’s how we translate it:

chorus:
Shoein’ the mare
The mare needs shoein’
Or else it’s ruin
She’ll keep you all atwitter
If you never get to shoe the critter
That Cuban critter

Shoein’ the mare
Don’t be too tender
Forget her gender
Don’t let her kick the ground up
Or you’re headin’ for a Cuban roundup
That Cuban roundup

Woman is like a mare
She’ll boss you, she’ll toss you
Double-cross you
You’ll never know where on earth you stand
Unless you get the upper hand

Shoein’ the mare
When wild muchacha
Begins to hotcha
You’re on the road to ruin
Brother, if you never get to shoein’
Shoein’ the mare

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Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen-1-d15

1937

From Hooray For What! — Winter Garden Theatre (12/01/1937 – 5/21/1938)

Buds Won’t Bud (m. Harold Arlen, w. E. Y. “Yip” Harburg) — recording date unknown

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1954

The Man That Got Away (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ira Gershwin) — from A Star Is Born (1954)

Harold Arlen sings, accompanying himself on piano (incomplete) — from a Colgate Comedy Hour episode (TV), c. 1954

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I Never Has Seen Snow (m. Harold Arlen, w. Truman Capote and Harold Arlen) from the 1954 Broadway musical House of Flowers

From the biography at HaroldArlen.com:

Never having met each other, Arlen began work on the score with Capote while he was in Paris. The two actually wrote the show’s title song together over the phone. After three months of long-distance collaboration, Arlen and Capote finally met in New York in February 1954.

It was not long after their first meeting that Harold became seriously ill with an ulcer. Arlen and Capote had completed three songs, House of Flowers, I Never Has Seen Snow, and A Sleepin’ Bee and had begun work on Two Ladies in de Shade of de Banana Tree when Harold was rushed to Doctor’s Hospital for surgery. Harold’s ulcer was bleeding terribly, which caused him to lose volumes of blood and required close to three dozen transfusions. Fortunately, Harold managed to hang on and even insisted upon having Capote visit the hospital so that they could continue to work on the show.

Harold Arlen – solo, piano and vocal, 1954

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* Las Fritas — Havana nightclub; the “s” is silent in both “Las” and “Fritas”

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Principle sources include:

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Arlen composes as Shmutts observes-photo-16

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cookie's Jam
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 15:27:19

    Reblogged this on Cookie's Jam and commented:
    My fellow Blogger Doc on his blog Songbook posted this a couple of days ago. What a treat to hear the writer, Harold Arlen, sing his own song.

    The first time I heard this song was a recording of Lena Horne singing it. I didn’t know that it was from the film Stormy Weather and I only realised that the film was a musical with a full black cast when I was around 14. You just didn’t think about those things at that age. I remember trying to imitate her voice after our music lesson. Our teacher had left us in the music room (she trusted us seeing as we were the O level group, more fool her!…). Of the girls remarked “uh uh…you sound jus lyke dem black women from de films”. That fluffed up my feathers a little. Still does…

    Thanks Doc for posting.

    Reply

  2. doc
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 22:53:28

    Hi, Cookie
    Nice of you to stop by. You might change your mind about this post if you happen to read the lyric to “Shoein’ the Mare” which I transcribed and included here after your visit.

    Reply

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