The song of the day for Tuesday, May 2, 2023, is “Thou Swell.”
Today is the anniversary of the birth of Lorenz Hart who, with Richard Rodgers, wrote some of greatest songs in American Songbook. Hart was born in New York City on May 2, 1895. He met Rodgers in 1919 while attending Columbia University. In their 20 year partnership, they wrote the scores for 26 Broadway musicals, including Babes In Arms, The Boys From Syracuse, Pal Joey, and On Your Toes. Hart died from alcholism on November 22, 1943.
About This Song
“Thou Swell” was written by Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart in 1927 for the Broadway 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 “Thou Swell” in July 1973 with The Ruby Braff/George Barnes Quartet, with Braff on trumpet, Barnes and Wayne Wright on guitar, and John Guiffrida on bass. “Thou Swell” was released in 1977 on Tony Bennett Sings More Great Rodgers & Hart on Bennett’s Improv label.
Bennett wrote in The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett:
My main focus in late 1973 became the brilliant trumpet playing of Ruby Braff. I’d known Ruby since 1951 when I first played Chicago. Ruby heard George Barnes and Bucky Pizzarelli playing at the St. Regis Hotel in New york, and he sat in with the two guitarists. He loved the way that combination sounded, and suggested to George that they start a group. They gradually worked out a lineup of two guitars, a trumpet, and a bass.
When I first heard about this group, I had to check them out. I thought they were great, and Ruby said to me, “Why don’t come and sing a couple of tunes with us, and relax for a while.” I did two special concerts at Alice Tully Hall in New york. Ruby and George played the first half instrumentally, and then I came out in the second half and sing with them–two entire evenings of Rodgers and Hart. Two weeks later I recorded twenty-four Rodgers and Hart songs with Ruby and George, with Frank Laico as engineer. It was later released as Tony Bennett: The Rodgers & Hart Songbook.
“Thou Swell,” as well as Tony Bennett: The Rodgers & Hart Songbook is available on Apple Music.