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"From 'The Man I Love' forward, the 'well of detachment' put lyrics into the great Gershwin love ballads that underpin a detached, literate, and bemused urbanity with a deep-seated longing for love and security. It is a contrast that distinguishes Ira's lyrics from, say, those of Hart and Porter, and which contributes greatly to the warmth of the Gershwins' songs" (Rosenberg, p. 73, paperback Ed.).
Ira "painstakingly and brilliantly crafted the lyric to "The Man That Got Away," the song many consider Ira's "'last great standard,' coming thirty years after the first, 'The Man I Love'." Feinstein goes on to write that he does not believe that the lyric to this song, as others have suggested, was inspired by Ira's "well of personal of suffering," especially with regard to his brother's death some seventeen years earlier. Feinstein says,
I asked Ira if he'd suffered writing that song and he said, "I was doing my job." I pressed a little: "But it's so deeply emotional and so connected to very dark feelings." He said, "Then I did my job well" (p. 102).
Wilfred Sheed agrees with Feinstein that in the lyric for "The Man That Got Away" in lines like "The road gets tougher. / It's lonelier and rougher," Ira "was not really writing about himself, but coming from the author of "Do, Do, Do" and 'S Wonderful," the voice is unrecognizable and would not be heard again in a musical score [of his] (Wilfred Sheed, The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty,
New York: Random House, 2007, p. 72).
Also Feinstein notes that when George died, Ira's life changed so much not only because it was his brother who died so prematurely but because his brother was also his "work partner." Feinstein goes on: "Of all the legendary people whom Ira worked with after George's death--Kurt Weill, Jerome Kern, Aaron Copeland, and Harold Arlen, among others--Geroge was the only one he considered a true genius" (p. 103).
Ira Gershwin (This section is currently in preparation)
Although this video is more about George than Ira, it begins with
Ira talking about George, and Ira continues to turn up, here and there, throughout. This interview featuring Ira Gershwin talking about his brother George is available
at: Amazon || iTunes
"That Moment of Moments" with music Vernon Duke and words by Ira Gershwin was written for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Songbook scholar Peter Mintun (who plays and sings above) comments, ""That Moment of Moments," surprisingly, was not the hit song of the original show. Vernon Duke's clever chord progression is one of many that set him apart from the Tin Pan Alley writers of the day.
To the delight of Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke, pianist Eddy Duchin, who led a very popular society orchestra, recorded this song and "Words Without Music" for RCA-Victor."
"Harlem Serenade" is "a rare Gershwin tune - never recorded. Ruby Keeler (and chorus) introduced this song in Ziegfeld Show Girl,  with a score which included 'Liza' and 'Do What You Do.' The songs were by George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and Gus Kahn. [This one by George and Ira.] The song was never recorded commercially in its time" (note by Peter Mintun).
Ira's lyric stresses the wild African appeal of the music in Harlem and the need for white people to "take a taxi and go there." and "when you enter this new world, / This particular blue world, / You'll begin / Giving in." Today's sensibility would hear lines like "Listen to that uptown jungle wail," as being unacceptable, and rightly so. Then, the racism of it wasn't a concern in most of the white world. The Gershwin's partook of that language while at the same time they helped to create a world of integrated music, culture and life in America.
Robert Kimball and Alfred Simon, Eds. The Gershwins: A Pictorial Biography. New York: Atheneum, 1973 (forward by Richard Rodgers, Introduction by John S. Wilson, includes a highly illustrated compendium of recollections by friends and family, diary entries, lyrics, etc. as well as a song list, chronology of shows with songs, discography of original cast recordings and studio recreations, etc.).
"Notes and Quotes from Ira's Friends." Ascap Today. 5, No. 3, Jan. 1972. (Ascap's magazine published, during Ira Gershwin's lifetime, a special issue of tributes to him from his friends.
Patrick Healy. "It Ain't Necessarily Porgy." The New York Times: "Arts and Leisure," Sunday, August 7, 2011 (an account of the newly revised musical theater version of Porgy and Bess the opera scheduled first for Cambridge, MA then Broadway in Dec. 2011).
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Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.
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