If you like the Great American Songbook, then you will want to catch tonight’s four-hour tribute to Harold Arlen, the composer behind 14 Broadway musicals and such songs as “Over the Rainbow,” “The Man Who Got Away,” and “Stormy Weather.”
Today marks the 110th anniversary of Arlen’s birth in Buffalo, NY (bet it was snowing then, too) and Jonathan Schwartz devoted his 4-hour show afternoon on WNYC (93.9 FM) to Arlen and the lyricists with whom he worked during his career.
Repeated tonight at 8 (Feb. 15, 2015) on the web, you can listen to dozens of Arlen’s songs, some of which he sings, and catch verbal vignettes about his songwriting. Schwartz, the son of composer Arthur Schwartz reminisces about his friendship with Arlen during the show on WNYC’s The Jonathan Channel, which is devoted to such music 24/7.
In one story Schwartz tells is how Judy Garland first heard the opening to “The Man Who Got Away” and went nuts over it. He also plays a recording by Arlen to Truman Capote about his thoughts on the lyrics for “A Sleeping Bee.”
Other collaborators included Yip Harburg (with Groucho singing “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady”), Ira Gershwin (Judy Garland singing “The Man Who Got Away” from the movie soundtrack of “A Star Is Born”), and Johnny Mercer.
The show features one of my favorites: Mandy Patinkin’s unique rendition of “If I Only Had a Brain.”