The song of the day for Thursday, June 28, 2018 is “Thou Swell.”
About This Song
“Thou Swell” was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the 1927 musical A Connecticut Yankee, based on the Mark Twain novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. “Thou Swell” is one of more charming songs from the musical, as the lyrics feature a combination of modern and medieval language: “thine eyes are cute too” and “I’d feel so rich in a hut for two.”
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded this really swell song in 1973 for his remarkable Rodgers and Hart songs recorded for two albums, both released under Bennett’s own label, Improv. This song was released on Tony Bennett Sings More Great Rodgers & Hart.
Why are these songs remarkable? Besides the great material sung by a great singer, The Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet was a perfect group for these songs. The group consisted of Braff(cornet), Barnes (guitar), Wayne Wright (also on guitar) and John Guiffrida (bass). No drums, no piano–none of the typical instrumentation for a jazz album. The sound is really perfect, though. I know I return to these songs all the time and I never tire of listening to them.
“Thou Swell,” as well as The Complete Improv Recordidngs, is available from iTunes.
Today we are celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Richard Rodgers, born on June 28, 1902. In many ways, Rodgers, along with his writing partners, defines the American musical theatre. His history started with Larry Hart, a partnership that lasted from 1919 to 1942. In 1943, Rodgers began his legendary partnership with Oscar Hammerstein. They wrote a string of musicals that are still popular today: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music, with few more as well. One of Oscar Hammerstein’s last wishes before his death in 1960 was for Rodgers to work with Hammerstein’s protegé, Stephen Sondheim, a significant proponent of the modern American Musical. Rodgers’ daughter, Mary Rodgers, composed the score for Once Upon a Mattress. Mary’s son, Adam Guettel, has carried the torch forward as a musical theatre composer for shows including Light in the Piazza. It’s a remarkable legacy that continues to define the modern American musical.