Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh sing me to sleep, Lullaby of the leaves

Update: 2nd video corrected.

Are all rock'n'roll songs born in the '50, '60s, '70s, etc? Take a listen to this song from 1932:


Lullaby of the Leaves,” by composer Bernice Petkere and lyricist Joe Young, was featured in the 1932 Broadway revueChamberlain Brown’s Scrap Book. Ina Hayward sang the song in the show which ran for only 10 performances. According to Thomas S. Hischak in The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia,“The ballad was introduced on the radio by Freddie Berrens and his Orchestra, and there were soon records made by Ben Selvin and Connee Boswell.... ‘Lullaby of the Leaves’ soon became a favorite of jazz musicians, and many recordings followed....”

Update & bump:

"Lullaby..." is constructed like many '30s pop tunes: a long instrumental section, followed by an almost afterthought vocal. Like much music today, it was designed to get people dancing.

Many people recorded it, each putting their own spin on the minor key gem. Here's a young piano badass doing his impression of jazz piano great Art Tatum's version:



Here are The Platters doing it as a lovely post-doo-wop ballad:


Like most good good music, it can transcend category and still hold its own. Clearly the melody is interesting enough that it has been recorded in many varying styles.

But now the punchline. Here's how I first learned "Lullaby...":


Yes, they adapted it to the rhythm & intro of "Walk Don't Run", which was typical of the times. They had found a formula and it worked. But listening to this version, would you ever have believed that it was a pop tune from the '30s?

Music that speaks to every style there is, and lasts from generation to generation. How cool is that?

3 comments:

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