The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser

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Knopf, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 271 pages
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“Frank Loesser could write authoritatively in virtually any style and, frankly, did,” observed composer-lyricist Maury Yeston. “A genius melodist and a supergenius lyricist, only he would ever rhyme ‘pelts’ with ‘else’ [“Take Back Your Mink”] or ‘India’ with ‘been to ya’ [“They’re Either Too Young or Too Old”] while simultaneously combining a crackling intellect with a heart as big as the moon.”

Frank Loesser–who, like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, wrote both music and lyrics for his shows–has been called the most versatile of Broadway composers. His five musicals are among Broadway’s most creative and enduring achievements: Where’s Charley?, Guys and Dolls (for which he won his first Tony Award), The Most Happy Fella, Greenwillow, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (for which he won both the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize). But well before Loesser wrote his first show, he was known to America for the song hits of his Hollywood career, including the Oscar-winning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “On a Slow Boat to China,” “Two Sleepy People,” “Heart and Soul,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” and “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year,” as well as the wartime hit “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”

Robert Kimball and Steve Nelson have gathered lyrics from such varied sources as rare private recordings, the personal files of Frank Loesser, and the archives of various film studios. Here, too, are photographs of the stars who helped make Loesser’s songs famous, such as Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Marlene Dietrich, Ray Bolger, and Betty Hutton. Kimball and Nelson’s research has yielded many previously “lost” lyrics, making it possible for the first time to fully grasp the extent of Frank Loesser’s extraordinary talent.

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About the author (2003)

Robert Kimball was educated at Yale College and Yale Law School. He has been the music critic of the New York Post and is the co-author or editor of several books on musical theater, including Cole, the celebrated book about Cole Porter that he edited with Brendan Gill. He also edited Knopf’s four previous books in the Complete Lyrics series. He is co-editor, with Robert Gottlieb, of Reading Lyrics. Mr. Kimball lives in New York.

Steve Nelson is a professor of musical theater at New York University and the producer of the Songwriter Series for the Library of Congress, which releases recordings of Broadway songwriters performing their own material. He is also the author of Only a Paper Moon: The Theatre of Billy Rose. Mr. Nelson lives in New York.

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