The song of the day for Tuesday, October 21, 2014 is “The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On)”
About This Song
Irving Berlin wrote today’s song in 1927; unlike virtually all of his songs, he did not write the lyrics for “The Song Is Ended.” Instead, they were written by Beda Loehner. In his book The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia, Thomas Hischak calls this song “… an Irving Berlin standard whose title has been called the theme of all popular music, a chilling number in which both the lover and the ballad that was ‘their song’ is gone; yet neither can be forgotten because they remain in one’s memory.” This song was recorded in 1927 by Ruth Etting and has remained popular over the years with recordings by Dick Haymes, Dizzy Gillespie, Jeri Southern, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole and many more.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “The Song Is Ended” in 1987 for his album of Irving Berlin songs: Bennett/Berlin. This album features several guest performers; this song features the great Dizzy Gillespie.
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born 97 years ago today, October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina (just 75 miles from the small town in South Carolina that my father was born in). Gillespie’s father was a local bandleader and so there were always musical instruments available to all nine of the Gillespie children; Dizzy was the youngest. He taught himself to play both trumpet and trombone by the age of 12. Like most families then, young John listened to the radio in the evenings and once heard Roy Eldridge play on the radio, he wanted to become a jazz musician. He received a music scholarship to study at the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina, where he studied for two years before moving to Philadelphia with the rest of his family.
He got his first professional job in 1935 and soon was playing with Teddy Hill, replacing his idol Roy Eldridge. It was then he met a young woman named Lorraine Willis, whom he married and stayed married to for the rest of his life. He moved on to play with Cab Calloway, but the two men had a huge falling out over a spitball which landed on the stage in front of Cab Calloway. Calloway immediately assumed that Gillespie, who was real prankster, had thrown the spitball and fired him from his orchestra. Gillespie continued to play with the finer orchestras in the late 30s and early 40s. He had been working on a new style of jazz that would replace swing: bebop. Early songs such as “Salt Peanuts,” marked a major shift in jazz in the mid 1940s. In the late 1940s, he began to explore Afro-Cuban music; in fact, it was Gillespie who discovered Arturo Sandoval.
He continued to play throughout the remaining decades and releasing albums up to just a few years before his death from pancreatic cancer in 1993. Your author had the great privilege of hearing Gillespie with a small band in 1980 at Blue Alley in Georgetown, Washington, DC, at a perfect table by the bandstand. It was my first live jazz experience. No wonder I’m a jazz fan!
Fans of Dizzy Gillespie should check out the documentary film A Great Day In Harlem. The film, made by the late Jean Bach, documents the creation of the famed photograph; Dizzy Gillespie was one of the participants. In the 2nd DVD in the 2 DVD set, there is extensive interview footage with Dizzy. Highly recommended.
And so, The Year of Tony Bennett wishes Dizzy Gillespie a happy birthday. For more information about Dizzy, please visit the official site at dizzygillespie.com.
“The Song Is Ended,” as well as the album Bennett/Berlin, is available from iTunes.
Gillespie also played on “Russian Lullaby” on the Bennett/Berlin album … it’s a great version, so we’re happy to include it here in addition to “The Song Is Ended.”