The song of the day for Monday, September 17, 2018, is “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”
About This Song
“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, was one of the hit songs from the 1940 musical Pal Joey, where it was introduced by Vivienne Segal. Notable recordings are by Benny Goodman, Mel Tormé, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. Alec Wilder admired the lyric and the verse, but found the song “notey.” In spite of being notey, it’s a cornerstone of the American Songbook and one of this author’s favorite songs, since childhood. I have clear memories of hearing that song coming from the family stereo after my parents put my brother and me to bed. Little did they know they were creating a child who loved the American Songbook.
About This Version
Tony Bennett tells this story in his autobiography The Good Life:
I always wanted to be unpredictable, and so for my next project, I decided to go in the opposite direction from the big orchestral albums I’d been doing lately and cut an intimate piano-vocal album with Ralph Sharon. We booked time in the studio and pored through music books, trying one tune after another. The arrangements were spontaneous, and we finished each song in one or two takes. In one afternoon we laid down sixteen tunes— which must be some kind of record—twelve of which made it onto the album, which became 1961’s Tony Sings for Two, Mitch Miller showed up at the start of these sessions, furious that I was really going through with it. When he saw that there was no dissuading me, he turned to Frank Laico and said, “I’m leaving. I can’t support this.” Tony Sings for Two turned out to be one of my finest records ever.
Bewitched – Remastered, a song by Tony Bennett on Spotify
“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” as well as Tony Sings For Two, is available from iTunes.
Today we’re remembering Ralph Sharon, who was born in London on September 17, 1923. Ralph Sharon emigrated to the United States in 1954. In 1957 Tony Bennett was auditioning for a new pianist. Tony tells this story in Just Getting Started:
Ralph was a tall man, beginning to bald then, with a mild smile and exquisite manners. He’s played with Carmen McRae and Johnny Hartman in the United States and said that his heart was in jazz. Then he turned around on the bench, spread his long fingers across the key, and began to play.
I as entranced by his touch and delicacy. Within a few seconds, I knew he was the man I wanted to accompany me for all my songs, in studios and on the road.
“How’d you like to come with me?” I asked him.
“Come with you where?” asked Ralph.
“Everywhere,” I told him.
Tony also relates:
I’m still inspired and guided by what Ralph told me so many years ago, in so many words: keep growing, and believe in what you do. I lost a real brother when Ralph passed away in 2015. I hope to keep going for a while. But it’s nice to know that when my time comes, Ralph and I will accompany each other.