Friday, February 15, 2008


Today would have been the birthday of one of the greatest composers in the world. His name was Harold Arlen. The titles "Blues In The Night" "Get Happy", "Accentuate the Positive" and of course the absolutely simple and brilliant "Over The Rainbow" rank Arlen as one of the best music composers and songwriters of the 20th Century. In 1929, Arlen composed his first well-known song: "Get Happy" (with lyrics by Ted Koehler). Throughout the early and mid-1930s, Arlen and Koehler wrote shows for the Cotton Club, a popular Harlem night club, as well as Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. Harold also continued to perform with some success, most notably on records with Leo Reisman's society dance orchestra.
Arlen's compositions have always been popular with jazz musicians because of his facility at incorporating a blues feeling into conventional American popular songs.
Arlen and Koehler wrote several hit songs during the early and mid-1930s. In the mid-1930s, the gifted composer spent increasingly more time in California, writing for movie musicals. It was at this time that he began working with lyricist Yip Harburg. In 1938, the team was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to compose songs for The Wizard of Oz. The most famous of these is the song "Over the Rainbow" for which they won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. They also wrote "Down with Love", a song later featured in the 2003 movie with the same title. Now here's something I really did not know Harold Arlen was a longtime friend and former roommate of actor Ray Bolger who would star in The Wizard of Oz. In the 1940s, Arlen teamed up with lyricist Johnny Mercer and continued to write hit songs like "Blues in the Night" ("My Mama Done Tol' Me") and "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive". I learned that Mr. Arlen was at Schwab's Drug Store when he was inspired to write the music for "Over The Rainbow". Well another day for colder weather and eagerly awaiting our recording session on Sunday. My store's first big inventory comes up on Saturday, February 23rd-- so it looks like I won't be missing the Oscars as I had supposed because it was originally scheduled for Sunday, Fenruary 24th. Our store will have its brand new lab soon and I am very happy about that! Wel until mext time. Hope you all had a great Valentine's day. John and I went out to a great Italian restaraunt called Bucca's at Universal City Walk -- (the best Lasagne ever-- nine layers-- yum!) and we went to see the amazing film "The Spiderwick Chronicles" in IMAX-- I really loved this film. Young star Freddie Highmore plays the part of both twin boys in the film: Jareds and Simon. Go see this movie-- it's breathtaking and scary and entertaining all in one movie!

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