Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs

Front Cover
David R. Godine Publisher, 2006 - Popular music - 279 pages
In this warm and affectionate book, William Zinsser, author of the best-selling classic On Writing Well, describes his lifelong love affair with American popular song and the American musical theater. These are the words and melodies that are as familiar to us as the flag, so firmly ensconced in our mental topographies that they have become part of our standard literature, songs adopted and adapted by generations of performers, jazz singers, and musicians, deeply lodged in the memory of everyone who has ever heard them.All the Things You Are, Star Dust, Over the Rainbow, Laura, Stormy Weather, Some Enchanted Evening, Someone to Watch Over Me, My Funny Valentine ? the tunes are as "easy to remember" as breathing, but how were they written? What stars and what shows were they written for? Who were the men and women who wrote them? What makes the songs so good? Zinsser answers these questions. Starting with Show Boat in 1927, he provides a comprehensive overview, telling his story through the lives and careers of the great composers and lyricists: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Dorothy Fields, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren, Jule Styne, Frank Loesser, Stephen Sondheim, and many more.Zinsser writes from an intimate knowledge of the songs, as a scholar of the American musical theater, and as a pianist-performer himself. The result is a book unlike any other in its authority, insight, and detail. Written with the author's usual elegance and humor, supported by lyrics that instantly bring back the songs and their emotional associations, Easy to Remember is handsomely illustrated with rare photographs of the songwriters and with sheet music covers of the songs they wrote ? one of America's gaudiest forms of poster art. With indices, song lists, and an extensive bibliography for show-tune aficionados, this is going to be the standard bedside reference for anyone who has ever found themselves seduced by this great American art form.
 

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User Review  - TimBazzett - LibraryThing

Bill Zinsser and I are separated by a generation. He talks of coming of age in the 1930s when every home still had a piano and someone who could play it and people gathered round for a group or family ... Read full review

Easy to remember: the great American songwriters and their songs

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Zinsser (On Writing Well, Mitchell & Ruff) profiles songwriters dating from the early years of the 20th century to the present, focusing on theater, film, and popular song composers and lyricists, as ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
9
Sigmund Romberg and the Europeans
13
Jerome Kern Oscar Hammerstein and Show Boat
17
George and Ira Gershwin
23
Early Rodgers Hart
31
Anatomy of the Popular Song 1 The Verse 2 The Chorus 3 The Lyric
37
Vincent Youmans
49
DeSylva Brown and Henderson
55
The Songs of World War II
151
Johnny Mercer
157
As Time Goes By and Laura
165
Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke
171
Rodgers Hammerstein
179
Singers of the Song
185
The Theater Songs
189
Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn
193

Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler
59
Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz
67
Andy Razaf and the African Connection
71
Sheet Music
75
Cole Porter
85
Porgy and Bess
95
Writing for Fred Astaire 1 Irving Berlin
103
Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern
107
George and Ira Gershwin
113
Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
117
Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish
123
Late Rodgers Hart
131
Harry Warren and Al Dubin and Mack Gordon
137
E Y Harburg and The Wizard of
145
Frank Loesser
199
Betty Comden and Adolph Green
207
Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein
213
Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke and Sammy Cahn
219
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe
229
John Kander and Fred Ebb and Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick
235
Songs by Category
245
Acknowledgments Sources and Notes
253
Picture Acknowledgments
263
Index of People
265
Index of Musicals and Movies
268
Index of Song Titles
270
Permissions
277
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

William Knowlton Zinsser (October 7, 1922 - May 12, 2015) was an American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a feature writer, drama editor, film critic and editorial writer. Throughout the 1970s, Zinsser taught writing at Yale University. He wrote 18 books, including On Writing Well, which is in its 17th edition. Zinsser died at the age of 92 in Manhattan on May 12, 2015.

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