Classical 91.5

great american songbook

Episode # 2125

6/19      How They Wrote the Songs  What’s the trick? How do they do it? Sometimes there’s no story at all. Somebody sat at a piano, wrote a song, and walked away. But sometimes there are songs whose invention is a good story. Never lose sight of the practicality, though. When somebody asked lyricist Sammy Cahn which came first, the words or the music, he said, “The phone call.”

Episode #2124

6/12      In the Land of Fancy  Fancy gives us something invented out of the air, something unpredictable and improbable. Not fairy tale kingdoms, exactly, but unlikely, exotic places that extend their own allure.

Episode #2123

6/5       Putting a Flavor to Life  Everybody expects popular songs to be about love because they almost are, often in predictable, conventional ways. Sometimes, though, you come across a batch of eccentric love songs that add snap, sizzle, and spice to the taste of love.

Episoce #2122

5/29      Ira Gershwin: When Wit Serves Romance Ira Gershwin didn’t like to write conventional love ballads. He always never came out and said “I love you.” He much preferred something clever or indirect, something to make a familiar emotion feel fresh. He preferred to use wit to write about romance.

Episode #2121

5/22      All Alone Being alone is the toughest time of all in a song. These are songs in which someone listens to a clock tick, plays solitaire, or waits for the phone to ring. Is the beloved gone; is the beloved gone for good? And yet there are also songs when being alone is the tonic. It gives you the comfort you crave.

Episode #2120

5/15      Rodgers and Hart in NYC Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were born and bred in New York City. They went to Hollywood to work in the early thirties, but mainly they loved New York and couldn’t wait to return. As Hart put it in a title, “I Gotta Get Back to New York.” Their songs combined the wiseguy wit and blunt emotionalism you expect from New Yorkers.

Episode #21-19

5/8        Arlen and Koehler Harold Arlen was a major songwriter. First, though, he worked as a rehearsal pianist and turned a bit of fooling around into a hit when somebody heard it and introduced to a good but still largely underrated lyricist named Ted Koehler. They worked together through much of the thirties, two white guys writing for the Cotton Club during the Harlem Renaissance.

Episode #2118

5/1        This Must Be Illegal As boundaries cracked in the teens and then crumbled in the twenties, pleasure became an end in itself. The poor Puritans wouldn’t have known what to do about it. Here are musical tributes to what may just be the most delightful form of sin.

4/24   Episode #21-17  

The Wit of Dorothy Fields The crackle of irreverence and intelligence set to the rhythms of everyday speech: that’s Dorothy Fields in a nutshell. Only she could subtitle a song, “A Sarcastic Love Song.” She could write the love ballads everybody expects from a songwriter, but she was a master of English colloquial speech and the wit that came with it.

4/17      Episode #2116

Winners and Losers  Songs range from ecstasy to despair. The characters inside the lyrics bet everything they’ve got on love and win. Sometimes. There’s a song called “Here’s to the Winners” and another called “Here’s to the Losers.”