MP3 Fred Miller - Irving Berlin, Vol. 1
Classic American Pop, Tin Pan Alley
19 MP3 Songs in this album (53:06) !
Related styles: POP: Pop
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Fred Miller''s Lectures-In-Song: Irving Berlin, Volume I
In your hands you hold my first “album,” a collection of songs from the early career of the legendary Irving Berlin (1888-1989). This man’s celebrated life embodies the inspiring saga of millions of Americans whose forbears arrived on these shores with virtually nothing. In living out their lives in the precious atmosphere of American freedom, they found, for themselves and their fortunate descendants, everything.
Berlin had a knack for creating vivid portraits of the people and situations he knew firsthand in the decades spanning his Lower East Side/Tin Pan Alley period thru the twilight days of the Roaring Twenties. Here are Everyman longings and dilemmas that transcend race & background. Many are funny, a few are poignant, even heartbreaking, others are meditative, all are invitations to savor life in all its boundless color and dimension. If the public bought these songs [and they did by the millions], canny businessman Berlin knew he was reaching people where they lived.
A clarification regarding “Lectures-in-Song”: my live performances typically include historical narrative and biographical anecdotes punctuating the songs. On this recording, I have opted to feature only songs with brief liner notes, but plans are actively afoot to record my narrative histories, probably in a radio documentary format.
For full historical background, I refer you to the many excellent, scholarly works available on Berlin and his great contemporaries. Better yet, please attend or invite me to present one of my live “Lectures-in-Song.” For more information, my website address is https://www.tradebit.com .
And now, The Songs, a few of those remarkably simple, simply remarkable jewels that make up the Golden Age of American Popular Music. This musical bouquet is lovingly dedicated to my mother Eleanor Dasch Miller on the occasion of her 90th birthday. She was, is, and always will be my original inspiring link to the best things in life: in this case, the glorious musical treasures of the past. Like these vintage songs, Mom vitalizes the present and sings optimistically of the future.
Fred Miller, August, 2008
A few notes on THE SONGS
(All Words & Music by Irving Berlin unless otherwise noted)
1)EVERYBODY’S DOIN’ IT (1911)
A rousing opener to The American Century, Berlin flies in the face of moth-eaten Victorian propriety and invites the public to move and make merry.
WHEN THE MIDNIGHT CHOO-CHOO LEAVES FOR ALABAM’ (1912)
In the well-trod tradition of Stephen Foster, Al Jolson and “Gone With The Wind,” the promise of Paradise Regained down South.
2)SADIE SALOME (Edgar Leslie, co-lyricist & composer, 1909)
An ambitious Jewish girl, probably from Berlin’s Lower East Side neighborhood, aspires to be a great artist. Fittingly, a young, ambitious Fannie Brice used this song to great advantage.
3)MY WIFE’S GONE TO THE COUNTRY
(George Whiting, co-lyricist, Ted Snyder, composer, 1909)
Berlin’s first commercial hit, the public loved laughing at human frailty. Men will be men, then, now & always.
4)WHEN JOHNSON’S QUARTETTE HARMONIZE (1912)
One of many nods to the wide variety of fellow participants in the musical Melting Pot, Berlin sings the praises of a black barbershop ensemble.
5)WHEN I LOST YOU (1912)
Written in response to the death of Berlin’s first wife. It is also his first successful use of a simple waltz to express his deepest feelings.
6)ABIE SINGS AN IRISH SONG (1913)
A snapshot of Melting Pot New York. Practical merchant Abe needs to bring in more than just Jewish customers.
7)I WANT TO GO BACK TO MICHIGAN (DOWN ON THE FARM) (1914)
A vaudeville paean to country life.
SNOOKEY OOKUMS (1913)
The downside of urban life, living right on top of your neighbors. One good reason to go back to the farm.
8)SIMPLE MELODY/MUSICAL DEMON (1914)
Berlin’s first trademark novelty-counterpoint from “Watch Your Step,” a full Broadway score highlighted by this song.
I LOVE A PIANO (1915)
From “Stop! Look! Listen!”, another full Broadway score, this also provided one side of the very first double-sided gramophone hit.
9)OH! HOW I HATE TO GET UP IN THE MORNING (1918)
Admiring but envious of G.M. Cohan’s success at getting a country at war to sing his songs, Berlin’s Army conscription gave him the opportunity to write “Yip, Yip, Yaphank”, entirely cast with servicemen. 1918 program notes read, “Introduced…by Sergeant Irving Berlin.”
10)I’VE GOT MY CAPTAIN WORKING FOR ME NOW (1919)
After the humiliations of Army life, the peacetime perks of social class and connections.
11)YOU’D BE SURPRISED (1919)
A mildly risque “Ziegfeld Follies” hit for Eddie Cantor.
12)A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY (1919)
Berlin captures the quintessence of post-WWI Broadway glamour.
13) I’LL SEE YOU IN C-U-B-A (1920)
One of many sinful side trips available after Prohibition kicks in.
14)PACK UP YOUR SINS AND GO TO THE DEVIL (1922)
More fun “Down Below” in counterpoint.
15)ALL BY MYSELF (1921)
THE WALTZ OF LONG AGO (1923)
ALL ALONE (1924)
WHAT’LL I DO? (1924)
Songs of yearning, all from the “Music Box Revue” period, 1921-1926, happily culminating in Berlin’s tabloid marriage to heiress Ellin Mackay, his wife for 60+ years and mother of his 3 daughters. His wedding present (including royalties) to Ellin? “Always.”
16)SHAKING THE BLUES AWAY (1927)
More flapper-era hip shaking from Down South.
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ (1927)
Before the Crash, everyone had a fat portfolio and a swank trousseau.
Even a workaholic like Berlin entertains fantasies of doing “nothing.”
18)BLUE SKIES (1927)
Words and music in perfect sync, melodically going from melancholy minor to joyful major, the ultimate song of optimism.
SOME SUNNY DAY (1922)
A logical interlude for “Blue Skies,” it cheerily utilizes recurring themes: The Perfect Rural Life…Down South of course.
19)SAY IT WITH MUSIC (1921)
Signature tune for Berlin’s “Music Box Revues” and his professional credo.
EVERYBODY STEP (1921)
One more invitation to throw away self-control and, in Berlin’s own estimation, one of his five best songs.
ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND (1911)
An international sensation, the song that started it all, and our final cheering word for now.