Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most

Song (1955) lyrics by Frances Landesman; music by Thomas Wolfe, Jr.; Recorded in 1961 by Ella Fitzgerald (another Virginia native!), her version contributed to the tune's becoming a jazz standard. Her final phrase descends to the very lowest end of her register, for an unforgettable effect (click on the link, then click on the PLAY button in the upper right hand window).

Trivia: Lyricist Fran Landesman, born in New York, is known as the Dorothy Parker of jazz. She continues working from her present-day home in London.

The poignant lyric can perhaps trace an inspiration back to T. S. Eliot's "April Is the Cruelest Month," the opening lines from "The Waste Land" (1922). Quite a pedigree! The song is a narrative about being out of phase with the seasons, describing a winter romance that faded long before the arrival of spring, a time when everyone else is focused on the hope and bloom of new love. "All I've got to show is a splinter for my little seemed sure around the New Year, now it's April and love is just a ghost...spring arrived on time, only what became of you, dear? Spring can really hang you up the most."

Here, a contemporary performance by chanteuse Jane Monheit.

And a video of a live performance by tenor sax man Stan Getz:

A complete performance of the song by June Christy (arranged by Pete Rugolo)

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