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Thursday, November 13, 2014

#28: The Mt. Rushmore Series (1930's version)

A reader recently reminded me of a promise I made in the August iteration of this series. That reminder was welcome for two reasons: Pleasure someone was paying close attention and an opportunity to think carefully about the music of the 1930's.

So, here is my Mt. Rushmore of timeless songs from arguably the richest musical decade of the 20th century. In fact, there are so many great tunes from those ten years this Mt. Rushmore is subject to future demolition and complete re-construction. As with the 1920's, I purposefully chose four different songwriting teams.

1.) Embraceable YouGeorge & Ira Gershwin (1930): The Gershwins oeuvre could easily take all four Mt. Rushmore slots for the 20's & 30's, making it difficult picking just one tune per decade. Of the hundreds of versions of this particular Gershwin chestnut, my current favorite is by Dianne Reeves.

2.) My Funny Valentine: Rodgers & Hart (1937): This song is great on every level but I'll confine my praise to this Lorenz Hart rhyme: "Your looks are laughable, unphotographable". Who has ever topped that? Favorite versions: Sarah Vaughn with the lyric, Miles Davis without.

3.) Over The Rainbow: Harold Arlen & Yip Harburg: (1939): From the octave in the melody that splits the word "somewhere" to the unexpected notes concluding the phrases in the middle eight, this is a song that begs to be played as well as sung. The undisputed best take without the wonderful lyric? Jeff Beck's.

4.) All The Things You Are: Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II (1939): It is hard to over-praise the musical magic of this tune. And Hammerstein's lyric came up to the same bar.

Your turn: Which four songs from this impossibly rich musical decade would you enshrine?

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