The song of the day for Friday, July 12, 2013 is “All The Things You Are.”
We choose this song today to honor this song’s lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein, who was born on this day in 1895 and died on August 23, 1960.
About Oscar Hammerstein
Oscar Hammerstein II was born into a prominent American theatrical family. His grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein I, was a theater impresario and his father was a theatrical producer and theater manager. Oscar Hammerstein attended Columbia University as an undergraduate and Columbia Law School as well. However, he left law school to start his theater career.
His first significant piece was the book and lyrics for the 1927 Show Boat, written with Jerome Kern. Show Boat was said to have revolutionized the American musical, with the songs and dances not only arising from the plot, but also furthering the plot and the character development. After Show Boat, he continued to work with Kern on several lesser musicals, including the show that gave us our song of the day, Very Warm For May.
Hammerstein is best remembered for his extraordinary association with Richard Rodgers, which began with Oklahoma in 1943. As with Show Boat, Oklahoma further revolutionized American musical theater with a deeper integration of the book and music. due in large part to Hammerstein writing both the book and the lyrics for the productions he worked on.
The partnership with Rodgers lasted until Hammerstein’s death in 1960 and brought us some of America’s greatest musicals: Carousel, The King and I, South Pacific and The Sound Of Music. Hammerstein passed away shortly after The Sound Of Music opened.
In addition to his writing, Oscar Hammerstein was on the boards of several professional associations including the Dramatists Guild and the Screen Writers Guild. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, two Academy Awards and five Tony Awards. He was a philanthropist as well.
Oscar Hammerstein was also a mentor to the neighborhood son of one his friends, a young Stephen Sondheim.
About This Song
Written for the 1939 Broadway music Very Warm for May, All The Things You Are was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. In American Popular Song, Alec Wilder notes that Very Warm For May must have had a terrible book “since otherwise the show’s failure is incomprehensible. For it had one of Kern’s best scores. Indeed there are five songs worth considering, the greatest of them being All The Things You Are“.
The song has lent itself to numerous jazz interpretations by some of America’s finest jazz musicians, including Artie Shaw, Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck. In his book The Jazz Standards, Al Gioia relates that “I recall talking to saxophonist Bud Shank a few months before his death at age 82, when he noted that he never felt he had exhausted the possibilities of this specific song, which he had first recorded almost 60 years earlier.”
About This Version
Today’s version comes from the 1962 Carnegie Hall Concert.
“All The Things You Are,” was well as the complete Tony Bennett at Carnegie Hall album, is available from iTunes.