Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten



Here I am: stuck in '38-'39. Well, I shouldn't say "stuck" – I mean, I'm thrilled to be planted at this point in the 20th century, surveying musically, with the aid of my CD collection, the waning years of the Great Depression. Today, I spun, among other platters, Disc 7 of Mosaic's magnificent Mildred Bailey set (out-of-print, as eventually become all things Mosaic), from which played, at the command of the mindless but benevolent random buttom, "Have You Forgotten So Soon," a treatment that I'm mad about of
a now undeservedly forgotten ballad.

The song was put together by a distinguished lyricist team, Edward ("Body and Soul") Heyman and Sam ("My Old Flame") Coslow, and a considerably more obscure Tin Pan Alley composer, Abner ("On the Beach at Bali-Bali") Silver. I am touched by its plaintive, lilting melody and still more deeply affected by its picturesque and (like most everything else I adore) at once both timeless and capturing-the-period words. Who better to deliver this combination than the hip Rockin' Chair Lady, Mildred Bailey? Similar in tone to but more vivid in its details than 1940's "At Least You Could Say 'Hello,'" this 1938 offering presents an eternal question, posed yet today by hurt and disbelieving jilted lovers, against a backdrop of distinctly '30's images.

I first came across Mildred's 9/29/38 interpretation, in which she is accompanied by the band of her xylophone-playing husband, Red Norvo, and fell in love with both song and performance thereof and later reacted with equal enthusiasm to the Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra 9/22/38 take, featuring the sensitive vocal of the scandalously underrated Jack Leonard.

I couldn't find Mildred's version on youtube but came across TD's. Though Jeri Southern isn't a musical direction that I've taken, when, in scrolling down the list, I happened upon her record, on which I saw she is joined by Johnny Smith, a guitarist whose playing I greatly admire, I decided to veer off there and was rewarded by a probing exploration, which includes a verse I hadn't known. Jack and Mildred double up here and there and each has his/her own choruses . Jeri's reading, taken at a crawl, follows, in part, the Mildred lyrics. Wonder if it was La Bailey who introduced this later singer to the extremely beautiful, sentimental but not lachrymose song?






Have You Forgotten So Soon?
Music by Abner Silver,
Words by Edward Heyman and Sam Coslow

I
find it difficult
To think that once you cared for me at all.
I can't believe
That you refuse to speak to me
Each time I call.

Have you forgotten so soon –
That lovely night in June;
Our graduation dance;
The glorious beginning
Of a beautiful romance;
All those gay diversions
We planned in advance –
Have you forgotten so soon?

Have you forgotten so soon –
The sun upon the sand;
The moon of yellow gold;
The things at Coney Island
That the fortune teller told;
Air-conditioned movies
That gave us a cold –
Have you forgotten so soon?

Don't you still remember
The Witches' Party
On Halloween?
And that grand December –
The whitest Christmas
We've ever seen.

Have you forgotten so soon –
That loving cup we made
Of old Italian wine;
That New Year's Eve at Tony's
When the gang sang "Auld Lang Syne";
All those nights in Heaven
That used to be mine –
Have you forgotten so soon?

Have you forgotten so soon –
My birthday party cake;
The sandwiches you made;
The kisses that I borrowed
And so eagerly repaid;
And the day we walked
In the Easter Parade –
Have you forgotten so soon?

Have you forgotten so soon –
The winding country lane;
A little wayside inn;
And sipping tea while list'ning to
A muted violin;
Thrilling to the old songs
By Irving Berlin –
Have you forgotten so soon?

Don't you still remember
The moonlight hayride,
The Beaux Arts Ball?
And that grand September –
The crimson woodland,
The waterfall.

Have you forgotten so soon –
The concert in the park;
The Army-Navy game;
The time I lost my money on
A horse that bore your name;
The day I snapped your picture
That's still in my frame –
Have you forgotten so soon?




I'll admit – this is a song that really starts the tears going with me.












4 comments:

Trombonology said...

Michael,
Please see here

Michael Leddy said...

Dang -- why is so easy to end up putting the comment on the wrong post? Thanks for setting me straight. : )

iamfelix said...

That's a really pretty song. I know I've heard Mildred do it - probably on XM40s, which plays *lots* of Mildred.

Trombonology said...

I goof constantly in this environment.

... Happy to see a poignant ballad finding favor!