Norm Houseman: Great American Songbook (Part 1)

The Great American Songbook, or American Standards, are songs that were written in the 20th Century that have lasted. Many are from Broadway shows, others are jazz classics, Hollywood films made many popular, and still others were written in “Tin Pan Alley” to be sold as popular recordings.

I’m not sure when I first fell in love with these songs. It was either hearing them on the radio or seeing them performed on television variety shows when I was young. I wasn’t aware back then that I was listening to songs that would still be around and performed today.

Many of the songs in the Great American Songbook were composed by Cole Porter (Night and Day and I Concentrate On You), Irving Berlin (Blue Skies and Let’s Face the Music and Dance), Richard Rogers (My Funny Valentine and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered with lyrics by Lorenz Hart). Ira Gershwin was one of my favorite lyricists (Though his lyrics aren’t on this version of I Can’t Get Started there is Someone to Watch over Me). Vernon Duke and George Gershwin, respectively, wrote the music to those songs. Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music for Georgia on My Mind with lyrics by Suart Gorrell, and the lyrics to Lazy River with music by Sidney Arodin. Herman Hupfeld wrote the song made famous in the movie Casablanca, As Time Goes By. Billy Strayhorn wrote Duke Ellington’s signature tune, Take the “A” Train. Fools Rush In was written Rube Bloom with words by Johnny Mercer. Jimmy Van Heusen wrote Darn That Dream. Eddie DeLange wrote lyrics, but I don’t believe that I have ever heard them.

There are supposedly more than four hundred American Standards, so be prepared to hear more mixtapes of them.

As part of my new mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and confidant 7 years ago when I correctly recognised a floppy disk for what it was. Since then, he has seen me through all my ups and downs through perfectly timed memes, several postcards, lessons on the American presidency, and music, music, music. When not spreading positivity by sharing his song of the day on Twitter, you can find him blogging at Classical Gasbag.

Send me a postcard

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