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Forward Into the Past!

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September 19, 2003

A program of new stuff based on old stuff, including the original cast recording of Hank Williams' Lost Highway and a new disc of Jo Stafford hits spanning the peak years of her career (1940 - 1955).

Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
These first three cuts are from a new Decca release that combines three original cast recordings from the World War II years: This is the Army (1942), Winged Victory (1943) and Call Me Mister (1946)
What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear This is the Army (OC 1942) Cpl. James "Stump" Cross and the All-Soldier Swing Band This is the Army was one of two military-themed shows Irving Berlin wrote for all-soldier casts (the first being Yip! Yip! Yaphank! in 1918, when Berlin himself was in uniform). This show was immensely popular, in part because it didn't mindlessly worship the Army or American soldiers but rather (to quote the original liner notes) "showed that American soldiers were supremely human, full of foibles and follies, prone to chasing girls and enjoying good times". It was also pointedly multi-cultural because Berlin believed that the best way to criticize Nazi ideas about "racial purity" was to celebrate America's diversity. He insisted, therefore, that African-American entertainers (like James "Stump" Cross) be included in the show and be given the same respect as any other cast member, both on and off stage. At a time when the Army itself was still segregated, this was a fairly courageous position.
Call Me Mister Call Me Mister (OC 1946) Bill Callaghan and Chorus As the date and title might indicate, this was a show about American servicemen returning home and re-adjusting to civilian life. With music and lyrics by Harold Rome and sketches by Arnold Auerbach, it was every bit as irreverent as This is the Army and enjoyed a long run (two years) on Broadway. The cast included Betty Garrett, Lawrence Winters and Jules Munshin.
Winged Victory Winged Victory (OC 1943) Winged Victory Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Sgt. David Rose What This is the Army was to the Army, Winged Victory was to the Air Force, except that the latter was a play with incidental music (by David Rose) rather than a musical. The script was by Moss Hart in collaboration with Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General of the Air Force. The show ran for 212 performances on Broadway with a cast that included Whit Bissel, Red Buttons, Mario Lanza, Ed McMahon (!), Karl Malden, Gary Merrill, Edmond O'Brien and (pre-Superman) George Reeves.
I'll Be Seeing You G.I. Jo Sings the Hits (2003) Jo Stafford Originally a classically trained singer, Jo Stafford became a highly popular Big Band Era vocalist, appearing with Tommy Dorsey and, later, with Paul Weston who became her husband. Between 1940 and 1955 Stafford produced a string of hits and became hugely popular with servicemen, who nicknamed her "G.I. Jo". This song encapsulates the feelings of many a G.I. and his family and loved ones back home.
The Trolley Song G.I. Jo Sings the Hits (2003) Jo Stafford On a more cheerful note, here's the Hugh Martin-Timothy Blaine hit from Meet Me in St. Louis.
There Must Be Somethin' Better Than Love Arms and the Girl (OC 1950) Pearl Bailey One of the rare Broadway ventures by composer Morton Gould (lyrics were by Dorothy Fields), Arms and the Girl is a Revolutionary War-era comedy about the romance between the daughter of an American revolutionary (Nanette Fabray) and a Hessian soldier (Georges Guetary) who has deserted to the American side. Pearl Bailey played an escaped slave who had two show-stopping numbers; this was one of them.
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) Hank Williams' Lost Highway (OC 2003) Jason Perry, Company As the title implies, this is a musical biography of the late country singer, with his songs as the score. The show was originally produced in Nashville and Cleveland. Whether or not it will ever make it to Broadway is unknown and, perhaps, irrelevant; a number of musicals have long lives on regional stages without ever making it to the Big Apple
Mind Your Own Business

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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