Archive for September 19th, 2009

Hoagy CarmichaelIt’s Saturday morning and I just had a thought about Hoagy Carmichael, the great composer of some of the most recorded songs of the last century.   Classics like Stardust, Georgia on My Mind, Am I Blue, Up a Lazy River and on and on.  He also appeared in a number of films in parts that allowed him to showcase his piano playing and song skills, most memorably in as the bar-owner uncle to the Harold Russell character in the great The Best Years of Our Lives .

My favorite was from the Humphrey Bogart/ Lauren Bacall classic  To Have and Have Not where he was the piano player in the island dive.  He does a version of his Hong Kong Blues which has a real funky sound, very reminiscent of something Tom Waits might do forty or fifty years later.  I couldn’t find that version but I found a later one from the Rosemary Clooney Show in the 50’s that’s still pretty good.

For  my money he was a pretty cool customer.  I may not have agreed with all of his views ( he once got into a fistfight with Bogart over Bogart’s pinko leanings) but how can you not like a gut who write songs with titles like I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin’ Those Beat-o, Beat-o Flat-On-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues ?

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