July 5, 2015

#48: A politically incorrect love song

A woman making herself beautiful in order to attract a husband -- what an outdated concept. "Baubles, Bangles, and Beads" was written in 1953 by Robert Wright and George Forrest for Kismet.

Sinatra made two great recordings of it. My favorite is the terrifically swinging Billy May arrangement from Come Dance With Me. Listen for the finger-snap the second time around. Frank was into it:

But the bossa nova arrangement by Claus Ogerman is fabulous as well:

So nice. (See my Jobim post here.)

This Peggy Lee version is just wow. Imagine turning the TV on nowadays and coming across a performance like this. I know just using the word "nowadays" makes me sound old. So be it. Another fogie thought: how in the world was Peggy able to breathe in that dress?

It's all about the real estate over at Bob's, with numbers 31-29 being "Street Of Dreams," "The Brooklyn Bridge," and "A Cottage For Sale." That middle one, from the 40s, was not on my radar but it's pretty sweet.

Ms. EBL brings it on with Jimmy Van Heusen, the guy Sammy Cahn said Sinatra wanted to be. (Listen to Mark Steyn's Sammy Cahn podcast here.)

Mark likes a Burton Lane-Ralph Freed tune that I will get to in due course.

"B, B & B" is Mark's pick for #54. You can read it all here. But here's just a bit which I can't resist quoting:

That's the Wright & Forrest version from Kismet. In the show it's a duet between the beautiful Marsinah and the young Caliph. Whoa, don't worry. I don't mean "caliph" in the al-Baghdadi ISIS head-hacking sense. This was back in the Fifties, when caliphs were cuddly and Islam was just a bit of local color for a hit musical set in l'il ol' Baghdad town. 
And this:
Peggy Lee was the first top-flight vocalist to sing it, and five years later, recording Come Dance With Me at the end of 1958, Sinatra and Billy May took a swingin' arrangement way beyond a Broadway operetta set in Baghdad and made it everybody's bag, dad. 
:) And one more thing. Will Friedwald (p 291) thinks Sinatra is singing "and them cool, cool beads." But I'm with Mark -- I don't hear any 'l' in there, and anyway, Frank was a lot more likely to interpolate "koo-koo" than he was "cool, cool." Koo-koo, or maybe "cuckoo," it is.

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