Archive for the ‘Fantastic Foursome’ Category

Fantastic Foursome – A Funny Face Redux   4 comments

It’s been quite a while since our last Fantastic Foursome, so for the benefit of newer visitors I’ll explain that it’s our Special Feature that allows you the chance to hear four different versions of a classic song. Then – if you like – you can vote for your favorite.Gershwin_Simon_2007_Obv (You can find links to all of our Special Features in the left column.)

So here we go. Today’s showcased song — “‘S Wonderful” — is another beloved standard from George and Ira Gershwin. It was written for the 1927 Broadway musical, Funny Face, and was performed by Allen Kearns and Adele Astaire. But here’s an interesting twist: Adele’s brother Fred was also in that stage show, and thirty years later he performed the song with Audrey Hepburn in a movie that was also called Funny Face, but had a completely different plot. (Video below.)

The song has shown up in several other movies too, and along the way it became a favorite of singers and instrumentalists everywhere. Some versions are more familiar than others but below are four of the best for you to try. You can listen to each and vote for your favorite if you’d like.

Ella Fitzgerald  —  Ray Conniff Singers  —  Rod Stewart  —  Teddy Wilson

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Fantastic Foursome – Sinatra’s Epitaph   Leave a comment

For this edition of our Special Feature known as Fantastic Foursome, we’re taking a look at a song that was written for Tony Bennett, but ended up becoming one of Frank Sinatra’s favorites. In fact, “The Best is Yet to Come” was the last song he performed in public and it was also engraved on his tombstone.fs22

Written in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, it was introduced by Tony Bennett and was later included on his 1962 album, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. It was soon being recorded by a number of big-name singers, including Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson.

Sinatra took his turn in 1964 and it eventually became important enough to him that in 1995 he closed his public performing career with it. As for it appearing on his grave marker, I’m not sure if it was his wish or if it was a family decision at the time, but either way it indicates how special the song was to him.

Below you will find four versions of “The Best is Yet to Come” that you can try, and then — if you are so inclined — vote for your favorite. Below all that is an early video of the song performed by its composer, Cy Coleman.

 

Tony BennettFrank SinatraSarah VaughanNancy Wilson

Tony BennettFrank SinatraSarah VaughanNancy Wilson

Fantastic Foursome – Shining In New England   2 comments

Today’s Fantastic Foursome song has several unusual qualities. For example, it’s one of very few songs with lyrics that don’t rhyme — but each verse is a haiku. (Or so they say — I’m no expert on the Japanese poetic form.) The lyrics also mention sycamore trees and meadowlarks, neither of which are commonly found in the state that’s in the title. But that same state considers the song its unofficial anthem, and it’s often performed at wedding receptions. Welcome to “Moonlight In Vermont.”moonlight

Written by the team of Karl Suessdorf and John Blackburn (who was from Ohio, which has lots of sycamores and meadowlarks), the song was introduced by singer Margaret Whiting in a 1944 recording. Although there had been a Hollywood musical of the same name the year before, it’s soundtrack did not include a title song, so apparently there was no direct connection although it’s possible that the film inspired the songwriters.

In any case, it didn’t take long for “Moonlight In Vermont” to be picked up by other performers, and records by all the usual singers began to appear pretty regularly. The song also became a part of most bands’ songbooks and eventually became a recognized standard.

At the bottom is a nice video of the song as performed by the smooth Andy Williams, but for our Fantastic Foursome choices I’m offering some very different versions. If you’d like, you can vote for your favorite below.

Jo Stafford  —  Johnny Mathis  —  Margaret Whiting  —  Willie Nelson

 

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Fantastic Foursome – Brrrrr!!    Leave a comment

It would be hard to imagine a more appropriate song for today’s Fantastic Foursome. With Winter weather doing its best to make us miserable, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is not only very descriptive of current conditions, but might also serve to give us a much-needed chuckle or two.brrr

Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, it was meant to be a little ditty that he and his wife could sing at parties, and she was pretty annoyed when he later sold ‘their song’ to MGM for use in an Esther Williams movie, Neptune’s Daughter. But after Esther and Ricardo Montalban performed it in the film — as did Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, in a very funny reversal of roles — Loesser’s wife was probably much happier because the song won him an Oscar. (You can see both duets in the video below.)

It almost immediately became a favorite for recording stars, who combined in some interesting duets to perform it. Although the odd twosome who’d performed it at the Oscar awards — Rock Hudson and Mae West — didn’t make a record, those who did included Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, and even Homer and Jethro, who offered up a countrified parody with a young June Carter. There have been many others in the intervening years. Recent combos have included Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone (from the movie, Elf) and Willie Nelson joining up with Norah Jones.

You can listen to four different versions below (or in the left column) and then – if you like – vote for your favorite.

Ella/Louis  —  Leon/ZooeyJune/Homer & JethroWillie/Norah

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Fantastic Foursome – A Song Made Famous In A Classic Movie   1 comment

It’s been almost two months since our last Fantastic Foursome, so for newer visitors I’ll explain that it’s a special feature that presents four different versions of a familiar song (actually five if you count the video) and then offers you the chance to vote for your favorite. Of course, voting is optional but it’s pretty quick and easy to do, and it’s completely anonymous.casa

Today’s offering is a song that made its biggest splash when it was featured in Casablanca, the 1942 movie that has been picked by many as the best of all time. But “As Time Goes By” was actually written for a Broadway musical a decade earlier and was recorded by several performers in the intervening years, including early crooner Rudy Vallée.

The song was composer Herman Hupfeld’s best-known by far, but the version made famous in Casablanca was not actually the full, original song. When Dooley Wilson sang it in the film he actually started at the chorus, rather than at the true beginning. In subsequent years most singers went with that version because it was familiar, but there were still some who sang the full song. Below you’ll find two of each variation, along with a video. You can vote for your favorite below that.

Johnny MathisFrank SinatraRudy ValléeAndy Williams

 

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