Rodgers & Hart: selected standards from the musicals of 1925-1934
Rodgers & Hart: selected standards from the musicals of 1925-1934:
- 1925 — Manhattan — Garrick Gaieties
- 1926 — Mountain Greenery — Garrick Gaieties
- 1927 — Thou Swell — A Connecticut Yankee
Separate feature pages:
- 1929 — With a Song in My Heart — Spring is Here
- 1932 — Lover, Isn’t It Romantic — Love Me Tonight
- 1934 — Blue Moon — Manhattan Melodrama
For more Rodgers & Hart on Songbook, visit our index page:
Rodgers & Hart biographies:
Songwriters Hall of Fame Exhibit biographies:
Manhattan (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) was written for the revue Garrick Gaieties which debuted in 1925 on Broadway and was the first of three Garrick Gaiety revues, which were subsequently produced in 1926 and 1930. The show parodied current subjects, such as the New York City Subway system and the Theatre Guild (producer of the show).
The revue first opened on Broadway at the Garrick Theatre on May 17, 1925, as a 2-performance benefit for the Theatre Guild. The reviews were favorable, and Rodgers and others persuaded the Theatre Guild to continue the production, which re-opened on June 8, 1925 and ran until November 28, for 211 performances. Several writers contributed the material for the sketches, including Edith Meiser, Sam Jaffe, Benjamin Kaye and Morrie Ryskind. – wikipedia
The California Ramblers recording as the Golden Gate Orchestra – 1925
Ruth Tester & Allan Gould — The scene is from a film short called Makers of Melody, shot in the Spring of 1929, evidently a pilot for a series about songwriters. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart play themselves in the twenty minute two-reeler. The image below is an excerpt from the biography Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway by Frederick Nolan, 1995, p. 127.
This performance retains the satirical element of the song, the caustic wit that Hart was known for, but which is lost on most later versions.
Makers of Melody is short film made by Paramount featuring Rodgers and Hart “demonstrating how they had come to write” some of their songs, apparently to a script, though one site describes it as an interview interwoven with song performances. It includes renditions of four songs: Manhattan, The Girl Friend, The Blue Room, and Here in My Arms. The last of these, although I don’t know their order in the film, is performed by Rodgers & Hart. It’s the only one of the four songs in the film which I haven’t found on video.
Another recording of Manhattan
Lee Wiley – from her album Night in Manhattan, with Bobby Hackett and Joe Bushkin – 1950
Mountain Greenery – written for The Garrick Gaieties of 1926. It was first performed on stage by Sterling Holloway.
Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Orchestra — recorded on 27 May, 1926
Richard Rodgers — Piano roll; played by Richard Rodgers, 1926
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke — Episode # 28 of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Sleeping Brother, 1962
Like most adaptations of the Twain novel, it focuses on the lighter aspects of the story. The music was written by Richard Rodgers, the lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and the book by Herbert Fields. It was produced by Lew Fields and Lyle D. Andrews. It enjoyed an original run on Broadway in 1927 of 421 performances and a number of revivals.
Bix Beiderbecke “and his gang”, six fellow members of Paul Whiteman’s band. – 1928
Blossom Dearie – from her self-titled 1957 album for Verve, recorded 11-12 September 1956
This is Dearie’s first American solo album. Already famous for the group “Les Blue Stars” of France and their French version of “Lullaby of Birdland“, Norman Granz personally invited her to record for Verve Records.
- With a Song in My Heart — Spring is Here (separate feature page)
Love Me Tonight is a 1932 musical comedy film produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love. It also stars Charlie Ruggles as a penniless nobleman, along with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family. [read more]
Separate feature pages:
Song History (from Wikipedia)
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in May 1933. They were soon commissioned to write the songs for Hollywood Party, a film that was to star many of the studio’s top artists. Richard Rodgers later recalled “One of our ideas was to include a scene in which Jean Harlow is shown as an innocent young girl saying – or rather singing – her prayers. How the sequence fitted into the movie I haven’t the foggiest notion, but the purpose was to express Harlow’s overwhelming ambition to become a movie star (‘Oh Lord, if you’re not busy up there,/I ask for help with a prayer/So please don’t give me the air…’).” The song was not even recorded and MGM Song #225 “Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)” dated June 14, 1933, was registered for copyright as an unpublished work on July 10, 1933.
Lorenz Hart wrote new lyrics for the tune to create a title song for the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama: “Act One:/You gulp your coffee and run;/Into the subway you crowd./Don’t breathe, it isn’t allowed”. The song, which was also titled It’s Just That Kind Of Play, was cut from the film before release, and registered for copyright as an unpublished work on March 30, 1934. The studio then asked for a nightclub number for the film. Rodgers still liked the melody so Hart wrote a third lyric: The Bad In Every Man, (Oh, Lord …/I could be good to a lover,/But then I always discover/The bad in ev’ry man), which was sung by Shirley Ross made up in blackface. The song, which was also released as sheet music, was not a hit.
After the film was released by MGM, Jack Robbins — the head of the studio’s publishing company—decided that the tune was suited to commercial release but needed more romantic lyrics and a punchier title. Hart was initially reluctant to write yet another lyric but he was persuaded. The result was “Blue moon/you saw me standing alone/without a dream in my heart/without a love of my own”.
Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, vocal by Kenny Sargent – 1935
Ray Noble and his Orchestra with vocals by Al Bowlly – 1935
Billy Eckstine with Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra – 1949
The Marcels – #1 selling over 2.5 million copies – 1961
a. the original single
b. 1999 – Original members Harp, Mundy, Knauss and Johnson with a new fifth member perform live for the PBS special Doo Wop 50