Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Love Song

        Of all the thousands upon thousands of memorable popular songs ever written, the great majority of them were love songs. And of all the romantic songs of love and devotion, some of the most enduring and endearing were the songs of parting and separation. One such song came to my attention with a back story that tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I first heard it when Larry Clinton's orchestra recorded it with his songbird, Bea Wain, on the vocal in 1939. It didn't get much play at the time but later, when millions of GIs were going to war overseas, it became a little more popular and again in 1952 during the Korean War it enjoyed a revival with a rendition by Jane Russell in a movie "The Las Vegas Story".
        It never attained great popularity in the top ranks of recordings, but the words grabbed me from the start and prompted me to look into it. What happened was that someone sent this poem to Hoagy Carmichael and asked if he thought it could be set to music. Hoagy worked on it, made a few changes to the lyric to fit into his melody, and then forgot it. That was in 1937. A couple years later, in 1939, looking through his files he found it again and arranged to publish it, but nobody knew who had written the poem. He and his publisher started a search and advertised in newspapers and magazines to find the author. It turned out to be Mrs. Jane Brown Thompson of Philadelphia, who had written it as an ode to her deceased husband and had it published in a magazine. It was introduced to the public on a network radio program by Dick Powell, one of the foremost singers and movie stars of that era. But Mrs. Thompson never heard it. She had passed away one day before the broadcast.
        Here is the lyric. Can anyone read these poignant words and not feel the sadness and the deep grief that lonely widow was expressing?

I get along without you very well, Of course I do, Except when soft rains fall,
And drip from leaves, Then I recall, the thrill of being sheltered in your arms,
Of course I do, but I get along without you very well.
I've forgotten you just like I should, of course I have,
Except to hear your name, or someone's laugh that is the same,
But I've forgotten you just like I should.
What a guy, what a fool am I, To think my breaking heart could kid the moon.
What's in store? Should I try once more? No, it's best that I stick to my tune.
I get along without you very well, of course I do,
Except perhaps in Spring, but I should never think of Spring,
For that would surely break my heart in two.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating story! This has long been one of my favorite songs.

    It really came to life for me in a sad, broken-hearted period of my life when all songs of these type suddenly became clear to me. Thank goodness I'm over that, but the memory of the music remains.

    Thanks for sharing your appreciation.