The song of the day for Tuesday, December 2, 2014 is “The Party’s Over.”
About This Song
Today’s song was composed in 1956 by Jule Styne, with lyrics from the great team of Adolph Green and Betty Comden. “The Party’s Over” is one of the hit songs from the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing. It was introduced by Judy Holliday, who won the Tony award for her performance.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “The Party’s Over” in 1958 for the album Hometown, My Town, released in 1959. This song, as well as the other songs on the album, was arranged by Ralph Burns. Hometown, My Town is, in this author’s opinion, one of Tony Bennett’s best albums. Though relatively short by later standards with only six songs, each song on the album is outstanding. Hometown, My Town is one of the early “concept” albums, in that it tells a story, beginning with a young man determined to make it in the city (“Skyscraper Blues), meeting a girl and dreaming of life in a fabulous apartment (“Penthouse Serenade”), breaking up (“By Myself), experiencing the gritty parts of the city (“I Cover The Waterfront”), getting back together (“Love Is Here To Stay”), but finally realizing that it’s not going to work (“The Party’s Over”). While today we are used to albums like this, with a distinct arc, this was a new and exciting way for albums to be conceived in the 1950s. I do believe it’s a masterpiece.
I’ve got a playlist on my iPod that starts with Hometown, My Town and ends with Astoria: Portrait of the Artist. Both consider the young man at relatively the same age, though recorded some thirty years apart. From the young singer’s standpoint, life is about making it big and challenging oneself in the great city of New York. From the mature singer’s standpoint, love and wonder found in the memories of his birthplace. The two albums, heard together, are like bookends to a single life.
Adolph Green, who co-wrote the lyrics for today’s song, was born on this day, December 2, 1914 in The Bronx, New York City. Today would have been his 100th birthday. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 87.
Originally, Adolph wanted to be an actor. In 1938, he met Betty Comden and they formed a performing group to produce and act in revues at the Village Vanguard. Members of that group was a young woman named Judy Tuvim, who changed her name to Judy Holliday, and Leonard Bernstein.
In 1944, their friend Leonard Bernstein asked them to work with him on a new musical to be directed by Jerome Robbins: On The Town. From this production came one of their finest songs: Some Other Time, which Tony Bennett recorded with Bill Evans on The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album, released in 1975.
After On The Town, they were welcomed in Hollywood and wrote full scripts for several films, culminating in what is to many the greatest film musical ever made: Singin’ in the Rain. They also continued their work on Broadway, including Bells Are Ringing with Jule Styne and Candide with Leonard Bernstein.
Adolph Green was married three times, the last one to Phyllis Newman. Their two children, Adam and Amanda, are both songwriters.
The legendary 1985 Follies in Concert semi-staged production with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra used Adolph Green and Betty Comden as a singing Vaudeville duo. Their performance, as well as Sondheim’s reasons for casting the pair, can be seen in the documentary of Follies in Concert, available on DVD.
And so, on the centennial of his birth, The Year of Tony Bennett is proud to honor one of America’s greatest songwriters: Adolph Green.
“The Party’s Over,” as well as Hometown, My Town, is available from iTunes.