Harold Arlen Sings Arlen: selected recordings, 1932 to 1966

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page originally published on 26 December 2013; latest edit: 27 June 2020

Harold Arlen portrait, at pianoHarold Arlen sings

Music by Harold Arlen for all songs included in the page

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:

Ogg Vorbis (1.5 MB)

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1933

Stormy Weather (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — recorded on 28 February 1933 (Victor matrix BS-75329), and issued in March 1933 on the single Victor 24262, b/w “Maybe I Love You Too Much” (B-side vocal by Fred Astaire)

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Matrix BS-75329 was also reissued on 12 September 1934 on the single Victor 24716, as the B-side of “Night and Day” (A-side vocal by Fred Astaire).

audio file, VBR MP3 (7.5 MB), from archive.org:

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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 an orchestra conducted by Ray Sinatra — recorded on 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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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 (5.6 MB)

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

1934

1934-As Long as I Live-Cotton Club Parade (24th Ed.)-11934-As Long as I Live-Cotton Club Parade (24th Ed.)-2

As Long as I Live (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

As Long as I Live 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 Avon Long and Lena Horne. Another Arlen-Koehler jazz standard, Ill Wind, was also introduced in this show.

I believe the album cited by the provider of the following video, Composers at Play : Harold Arlen and Cole Porter Sing Their Own Compositions, incorrectly attributes the band, but not the vocalist, of the recording. In fact there is no band. This is Harold Arlen singing, accompanied by Arthur Schutt on piano. Arlen did make another recording of the song as a vocalist, on 28 February 1934, with Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra (see second video below), but I’ve not yet found any evidence to support the information provided in the album’s track listing suggesting that Arlen recorded the song with Leo Reisman. Reisman also recorded the song, but when he did so the vocalist was Phil Neely.

Harold Arlen, vocal; accompanied by Arthur Schutt on piano — recorded on 6 February 1934; issued on Victor 24569, c/w “Ill Wind”

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Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra, vocal: Harold Arlen — recorded on 28 February 1934; issued on Victor 24579, as the B-side of “Ill Wind”

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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.

Harold Arlen, vocal; accompanied by Arthur Schutt on piano — recorded on 6 February 1934; issued on 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 on Victor 24579, 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

Ray Bolger, Life Begins At 8.40, 1934From 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

  • What 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”

MP3 (6.8 MB)

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

MP3 (6.6 MB)

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Ogg Vorbis (1.5 MB)

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

MP3 (7.0 MB)

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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 (3a)

(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”

Ogg Vorbis file (1.5 MB)

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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-1a

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)

Harold Arlen sings, accompanying himself on piano — originally released in 1955 on the album The Music of Harold Arlen, Vol. 1, Walden Records 306; also included in the 1955 double album The Music of Harold Arlen, Walden Records 306 (Vol.1) & 307 (Vol.2)

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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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1955

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 sings, accompanying himself on piano — originally released in 1955 on the album The Music of Harold Arlen, Vol. 1, Walden Records 306; also included in the 1955 double album The Music of Harold Arlen, Walden Records 306 (Vol.1) & 307 (Vol.2)

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Last Night When We Were Young (m. Harold Arlen, w. Yip Harburg)

Harold Arlen sings, accompanying himself on piano — originally released in 1955 on the album The Music of Harold Arlen, Vol. 1, Walden Records 306; also included in the 1955 double album The Music of Harold Arlen, Walden Records 306 (Vol.1) & 307 (Vol.2)

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1966

From the 1966 album Harold Sings Arlen (with Friend), (US) Columbia Masterworks OS 2920 (Stereo), OL 6520 (Mono)

Blues in the Night (m. Harold Arlen, w. Johnny Mercer)

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My Shining Hour (m. Harold Arlen, w. Johnny Mercer)

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* Las Fritas — This seems to refer to a street in Havana. 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

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. doc
    Dec 28, 2018 @ 13:26:50


    Like

    Reply

  2. Tom Krehbiel
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 15:04:58

    I heard today on Pandora, a performance of “Paper Moon” which seemed to be a very “hot” version with Arlen singing accompanied by a jazz group, probably in the 1950s or 1960s. I can’t find it in the usual online sources (Discogs, YouTube, Google, etc.) Can you help me find an LP or CD issue?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • musicdoc1
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 15:09:53

      Hi Tom,

      I’m not aware of a recording of “Paper Moon” by Harold Arlen. I’ve checked four different studio albums and compilations (released in 1955, 1966, 1974 and 1975) of Arlen singing his own songs. Did you recognize his voice in the recording?

      1955 – The Music Of Harold Arlen, Walden Records 306 (Vol.1) & 307 (Vol.2)
      1966 – Harold Sings Arlen (with Friend),(US) Columbia Masterworks OS 2920 (Stereo), OL 6520 (Mono)
      1974 – Harold Arlen Sings, Mark56 Records 683
      1975 – Harold Arlen Sings (1930-1937), JJA JJA 1975-9

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      • Tom Krehbiel
        Jun 17, 2020 @ 15:47:02

        I believe I did recognize the voice. It’s far from what I’m familiar with from “Pardon Me, Pretty Baby.” But I did find a Colgate Comedy Hour video with Arlen doing “Paper Moon” that very much resembles what I heard, both in terms of the voice and the treatment. It’s from 1954. Arlen’s “Paper Moon” starts the musical part at 40 seconds. Oh, Connie Russell, Eddie Cantor, and Frank Sinatra contribute to the Arlen medley, too. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/eDxCYbayNAs

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

      • Tom Krehbiel
        Jun 18, 2020 @ 21:40:21

        Thank you. I have seen the LP available for not a LOT of cash, but I’d be pissed if I bought it and found out that it wasn’t the performance I heard. I wish that Amazon or AllMusic or somebody had a sample available. I wouldn’t have to hear much to know…

        I found another connection. AllMusic has a review of the combo CD previously mentioned. I’m going to try to contact the author of that review and ask for a description of the “Paper Moon” track. That might be enough justification for me to buy the LP or the combo CD.

        Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

  3. Tom Krehbiel
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 17:40:12

    @musicdoc1
    I’ve found “Harold Arlen and His Songs,” a Capitol LP from about the same time as “The Music of Harold Arlen.” It includes “Paper Moon.” The only availability seems to be as part of a DRG CD which mainly features a “St. Louis Woman” original cast recording. There’s an original LP out there, too. I might buy it but I would sure like to hear a sample first.

    It astounds me that there’s an LP by a major contributor that isn’t on CD somewhere in a form that has snips available.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • musicdoc1
      Jun 18, 2020 @ 20:46:29

      Thanks again, Tom. I must have been a little hasty in my search and missed that one. There’s also one called Composers at Play, “X” LVA-1003, that I’d missed before, featuring one side each of Harold Arlen and Cole Porter singing some of their songs, “Paper Moon” not among them. The album was advertised in the December 3, 1955 issue of Billboard, on p. 25.

      I’ll let you know if I find the recording of “Paper Moon” from Harold Arlen and His Songs, or any other recordings of the song by Arlen.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  4. thesound4bcca861cf
    Jun 25, 2020 @ 17:24:18

    Hi Doc. I found it! It’s on the “Harold Arlen and His Songs” Capitol LP and part of the combo CD featuring the “St Lous Woman” original cast LP, Capitol’s first original cast recording.

    It was Apple Music’s fast and loose posting of the contents of the LP from bootleg source that nailed it for me. I’m not a subscriber but Apple does offer up 45 second or so snips. That was enough for me to know that it was the performance I heard on a Pandora stream of Cliff Edwards related music.

    I found a reasonably priced, apparently properly licensed, CD issue on DRG at eBay. It’s on it’s way! I’m so damn pleased. Thanks for your support. If I can help anyone in any way, I’ll be happy to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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