The song of the day for Sunday, February 15, 2015 is “Come Rain Or Come Shine.”
About This Song
Today’s song was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer in 1946 for the musical St. Louis Woman. The song itself is rather unusual, in that the same note repeated 12 times in the first two measures. In spite of that repetition, or perhaps because of it, the song works very well for the singer. Al Gioia in Jazz Standards says that “this composition tends to resist grandstanding, and instead appeals to the more introspective improviser.”
About This Version
Today’s version of “Come Rain Or Come Shine” is from Tony Bennett’s 1960 album Tony Bennett Sings A String Of Harold Arlen. I believe that it noteworthy that Mr. Bennett’s first album devoted to the music of a single composer was for Harold Arlen. This album was arranged and conducted by Glenn Osser.
Today we honor the great Harold Arlen, who was born on February 15, 1905 — one hundred and ten years ago today.
I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I do believe that Harold Arlen is the greatest composer of American popular song. I suspect that most adult Americans know at least one Arlen song that speaks to them, whether it’s “The Man That Got Away” or “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” or “Over The Rainbow” or any of the other of the many dozens of songs he wrote in his career.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to Barbara Cook on my iPod and was struck by how many of Arlen’s songs she’s sung over the years. But, again, every popular singer I’ve ever loved has always sung Arlen, from Judy Garland to Frank Sinatra. Even Stephen Sondheim, in listing the “songs I wish I’d written (at least in part)” named several Arlen songs: “Blues In The Night,” “Buds Won’t Bud,” “The Eagle And Me,” “I Had Myself A True Love,” and “I Wonder What Became Of Me.” (Sondheim also lists an equal number of Cy Coleman songs, which we’ll discuss another day.)
So, I’ll go on the record and say that I don’t think the American Songbook would be what we love today had it not been for Harold Arlen.
With the greatest respect, The Year of Tony Bennett honors the life and music of the great Harold Arlen on the anniversary of his birth.
“Come Rain Or Come Shine,” as well as Tony Bennett Sings A String Of Harold Arlen, is available from iTunes.