Thursday, June 30, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Every successful person encounters failure now and then, and this is especially true for song writers. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, one of the greatest songwriting teams of modern times, didn't always come up with a hit. Here's a story of a failure.

In May, 1933, Rodgers and Hart were writing songs for "Hollywood Party", a movie featuring some top stars. They wrote one for Jean Harlow to sing, in which she prays for God's help to become a movie star. The lyric--"Oh Lord, if you're not busy up there, I ask for help with a prayer, so please don't give me the air."The song was registered for copyright in July 1933 and immediately forgotten. In 1934 the two were working on a song for a movie called "Manhattan Melodrama" that starred Clark Gable. Since they liked the melody, Hart wrote new lyrics "Act One: You gulp your coffee and run, into the subway you crowd, don't breathe, it isn't allowed."

The song was cut from the film before its release. It was registered for copyright in March, 1934 and immediately forgotten. The studio then asked for another song for a nightclub sequence in the movie, so again Hart wrote a new lyric--"Oh Lord, I could be good to a lover, but then I always discover, the bad in every man." It was sung my Shirley Ross in blackface in the movie, a big production number, and immediately sank without a trace. By then, Rodgers and Hart were sick of the melody and decided to bury it, but Jack Robbins, the head of MGM's publishing company, thought the melody would work with a new set of romantic lyrics . He persuaded the reluctant writers to give it one more try so Rodgers tweaked the tune and Hart wrote a new lyric and lo and behold, this time they struck gold.

The new/old song became an overnight sensation under the title "Blue Moon" and every major singing star in the music industry recorded it including Frank Sinatra and Billy Holiday, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald, and countless others. Moreover, in addition to becoming a standard in mainstream music, Elvis Presley made it a hit in rock and roll and the Marcels made it a hit in doo-wap. Ultimately it became one of the biggest money making songs that Rodgers and Hart wrote, and as we all know, they wrote a great many. So here are the romantic lyrics that made it a hit on the fourth try.

Blue Moon, You saw me standing alone.
Without a dream in my heart, Without a love of my own.
Blue Moon, You know just what I was there for,
You heard me saying a payer for,
Someone I really could care for.
And then there suddenly appeared before me,
The only one my arms will ever hold,
I heard somebody whisper please adore me,
And when I looked the moon had turned to gold.
Blue Moon, Now I'm no longer alone,
Without a dream in my heart,
Without a love of my own.

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