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December 31, 2000

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Cocktails for Two

Or for two dozen, depending on the size of your party. Lift a glass of bubly with us as we celebrate bibulation in various forms with songs about drinking from Broadway and Hollywood.
PLAYLIST
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Cocktails for Two The Best of Spike Jones (1975) Spike Jones The song was written to celebrate the end of Prohibition (see below)
When the Moon Shines on the Moonshine Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 (1977) Bert Williams Comments on the events of the day were not uncommon in the Follies shows; here are a couple of songs inspired by Prohibition, a social experiment so disastrous that we decided to revive it as the War on Drugs.
Everybody Wants a Key to My Cellar Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 (1977) Bert Williams A native of Antigua in the West Indies, Williams was one of the most popular black entertainers ever to appear on Broadway. He appeared in nearly every edition of the Follies from 1910 to 1920, when he left to star with Eddie Cantor in Broadway Brevities. He died in 1922 at the age of 47.
The Boys in the Back Room Falling in Love Again (1998) Marlene Dietrich From Destry Rides Again (1939)
The Night They Invented Champagne Gigi (OS 1958) Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold Gigi was a rarity - an original film musical by Broadway veterans (Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, whose hits include Brigadoon, My Fair Lady and Camelot) that was later successfully translated to the stage (1973).
The Ladies Who Lunch Company (OC 1970) Elaine Stritch Stritch’s character comments sarcastically on her fellow middle-ages wealthy wives at a “Eurotrashy nightclub”.
Belly Up To The Bar Boys The Unsinkable Molly Brown (OC 1960) Tammy Grimes, Joseph Sirola, Company Music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, better known for The Music Man. The book is based on the true “rags to riches” story of Molly Brown, who earned the nickname “unsinkable” when she was a passenger on the ill-fated Titanic. She not only survived herself but also helped save the lives and raise the spirits of her fellow survivors.
Phonetic Punctuation Victor Borge - Live (!) (1992) Victor Borge This has nothing to do with drinking and everything to do with the fact that Victor Borge - musician, comic monologist and humanitarian - died December 23rd at the age of 91. Dubbed “the funniest man in the world” by The New York Times’ Brooks Atkinson, Borge left a successful career as pianist, composer and director in Denmark when it fell to the Nazis in 1940. Unknown in the USA and unable to speak English, he eked out a living for a year playing piano until Rudy Vallee heard him play at a Hollywood party and recommended him to Bing Crosby for the latter’s radio show. Borge’s appearance caused such a sensation that he went on to appear in 56 subsequent episodes. Once he mastered English, he quickly became popular as a nightclub and concert performer. This recording (from a February, 1953 concert in Boston) of his most famous routine is from his Comedy in Music show, which opened to rave reviews on Broadway on October 2, 1953.
Song of the Brown October Ale I Wants to Be An Actor Lady (1978) Michael van Engen, Cincinnatti’s University Singers and Orchestra cond. by Earl Rivers From Robin Hood (1890), which started out in Chicago. It played New York twice, toured the country extensively, and was the most frequently performed American comic opera up to the early 20th century. It was also the biggest hit for composer Reginald DeKoven and lyricist/librettist Harry B. Smith (who collaborated on seventeen shows including Robin Hood’s sequel Maid Marian) and includes their most enduring hit, "Oh Promise Me".
In Taberna quando sumus Carmina Burana (1994) St Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus cond. by Leonard Slatkin From Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (1937), a “scenic cantata” consisting of settings of a collection of 12-century poems celebrating various aspects of secular Medieval life. This one describes activity in a tavern and concludes with a laundry list of the various types who drink there.
Tomo Y Obligo (First I’ll Drink, Then You Join Me) Marcelo Alvarez Sings Gardel (2000) Marcelo Alvarez One of the many tangos written and made famous by the Argentinean singer Carlos Gardel, who died in a plane crash at the height of his career in 1935 (he was only 45). A French immigrant, Gardel rose from poverty to become the toast of Buenos Aires. A street and a subway station there still bear his name and his birthday is celebrated as National Tango Day.
Drink With Me Les Miserables (OC 1987) Anthony Crivello, Company Rebels at the barricades share what may be their last drink together.
Cocktails for Two The Original Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards (1957) “Jonathan and Darlene Edwards” (actually Paul Weston and Jo Stafford) The fictional duo of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were actually noted band leader Paul Weston and his wife, singer Jo Stafford poking fun at inept cocktail pianists and the singers who often accompanied them. This is the sort of parody which requires the accuracy of seasoned musicians to work.
New Years Eve in a Haunted House Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights (1992) Raymond Scott Quintette Scott was an innovative composer with a unique point of view. Many of his compositions (especially “Powerhouse” and “Frantic Freeway”) ended up in the mix of Warner Brothers cartoon soundtracks, and many others sound like they should accompany something wacky.


Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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