The song of the day for Sunday, October 4, 2015 is “I Won’t Dance.”
About This Song
Today’s song, “I Won’t Dance,” has a wonderful tune written by Jerome Kern. The lyrics are, on the other hand, a bit complicated. The song was originally written for for a 1934 London musical called Three Sisters with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto Harbach; alas the production was flop and closed quickly. Kern decided to use this great tune for the 1935 film of Roberta, starring Irene Dunne with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. This time, the lyrics were from Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. I won’t even begin to figure out how they split the royalties.
About These Versions
Tony Bennett has recorded “I Won’t Dance” twice. The first time was in 2014 with Lady Gaga on their album Cheek To Cheek, with a great big band arrangement from Marion Evans. I’ve always loved this song and thought that Bennett and Gaga sang it just great. It was also quite effective on the Cheek To Cheek television special. [I don’t care what the Television Academy thinks. As far as I’m concerned, it earned the Emmy Award for Best Variety Special hands down.]
The second recording was just released in September 2015 on Bennett’s album with Bill Charlap–The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Bennett and Charlap arranged this version 3/4 waltz time. It’s quiet and sweet; Bennett dances lightly over the piano.
“I Won’t Dance” is a perfect example of why I started this Sunday feature of presenting different versions of the same song sung by Tony Bennett. Whether separated by decades, as in last week’s song, or a matter of months, as for today’s song, it is telling on many levels how this master treats the material. Just brilliant, Tony Bennett is.
“I Won’t Dance,” as well as Cheek To Cheek, is available from iTunes.
“I Won’t Dance,” as well as The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, is available from iTunes.
Because I’m in a great mood today, here’s a video of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from Roberta. This film is the first time they worked together. I don’t know if Astaire actually played the piano or not. If he didn’t, it’s the best fake piano playing I’ve ever seen on film. And if he did play piano, he plays great! And Ginger’s gown is fantastic!
Your author is off to the Newport, Oregon Jazz Festival for concert by Bill Charlap and his Trio, also joined by his wife and pianist, Renee Rosnes. I’ll report in a few days.