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A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs

by

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook—the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies—and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hears America singing—with a Yiddish accent. He guides us through America in the golden age of song, when “Embraceable You,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “My Romance,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Stormy Weather,” and countless others became nothing less than the American sound track. The stories behind these songs, the shows from which many of them came, and the shows from which many of them came, and the composers and lyricists who wrote them give voice to a specifically American saga of love, longing, assimilation, and transformation.

Lehman’s analytical skills, wit, and exuberance infuse this book with an energy and a tone like no other: at once sharply observant, personally searching, and attuned to the songs that all of us love. He helps us understand how natural it should be that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated “Over the Rainbow” into his Sabbath liturgy, and why Cole Porter—the rare non-Jew in this pantheon of musicians who wrote these classic songs shaped America even as America was shaping them.

Review:

"As part of the publisher's ongoing Jewish Encounters series, Lehman, poet, anthologist (The Oxford Book of American Poetry) and critic (The Last Avant-Garde), melds dreamy personal reflections with impressive archival excavation for a thorough look at the popular early-20th-century songwriters and what made their work quintessentially Jewish. Delving into the iconic hits of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Larry Hart, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, among selective others, Lehman ponders how these Ashkenazi Jews, mostly raised speaking Yiddish in New York as cantors' sons, melded their particular wit, melancholy and sophistication with the rhythmic richness of African-American music — a blending of blues and jazz. In their many beloved seminal hits — e.g., Berlin's 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' (1911), George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' (1923), Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' ' (1943) — these sons (Dorothy Fields being the female lyricist exception) of refugees from anti-Semitic rumblings in Europe 'were conducting a passionate romance with America,' Lehman maintains. The author himself grew up in the Inwood section of New York City, under the warm spell of these songs; by the time he graduated from Stuyvesant High School and attended Columbia, where many of these songwriters had met, rock and roll was supplanting that old-time magic. Digressive, nostalgic and deeply moving, Lehman achieves a fine, lasting tribute to the American songbook." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

With a poet's eye for language and nuance, Lehman takes a personal journey into the past of American music, showing how the songs that we view as quintessentially American were almost all written by Jews, many of them immigrants. Recounting the stories behind numerous songs and shows, the author explains how Jewish songsmiths combined their native plaintiveness and wit with Black blues to create a distinctively American musical form. With analytical skill, wit, and exuberance, Lehman helps readers understand how natural it is that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated "Over the Rainbow" into his Sabbath liturgy Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook--the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies--and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hears America singing--with a Yiddish accent. He guides us through America in the golden age of song, when “Embraceable You,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Cant Help Lovin Dat Man,” “My Romance,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Stormy Weather,” and countless others became nothing less than the American sound track. The stories behind these songs, the shows from which many of them came, and the shows from which many of them came, and the composers and lyricists who wrote them give voice to a specifically American saga of love, longing, assimilation, and transformation.

Lehmans analytical skills, wit, and exuberance infuse this book with an energy and a tone like no other: at once sharply observant, personally searching, and attuned to the songs that all of us love. He helps us understand how natural it should be that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated “Over the Rainbow” into his Sabbath liturgy, and why Cole Porter--the rare non-Jew in this pantheon of musicians who wrote these classic songs shaped America even as America was shaping them.

About the Author

DAVID LEHMAN is the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, and the author of seven books of poems, most recently When a Woman Loves a Man. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805242508
Author:
Lehman, David
Publisher:
Schocken Books Inc
Subject:
Instruction & Study - Songwriting
Subject:
Popular music
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Composers & Musicians - Country & Folk
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Popular music -- United States.
Subject:
Songwriting
Subject:
Music-Music Business and Songwriting
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
7.62x5.41x1.01 in. .82 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General History
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Sheet Music
Biography » Composers and Musicians
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Schocken Books - English 9780805242508 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "As part of the publisher's ongoing Jewish Encounters series, Lehman, poet, anthologist (The Oxford Book of American Poetry) and critic (The Last Avant-Garde), melds dreamy personal reflections with impressive archival excavation for a thorough look at the popular early-20th-century songwriters and what made their work quintessentially Jewish. Delving into the iconic hits of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Larry Hart, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, among selective others, Lehman ponders how these Ashkenazi Jews, mostly raised speaking Yiddish in New York as cantors' sons, melded their particular wit, melancholy and sophistication with the rhythmic richness of African-American music — a blending of blues and jazz. In their many beloved seminal hits — e.g., Berlin's 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' (1911), George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' (1923), Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' ' (1943) — these sons (Dorothy Fields being the female lyricist exception) of refugees from anti-Semitic rumblings in Europe 'were conducting a passionate romance with America,' Lehman maintains. The author himself grew up in the Inwood section of New York City, under the warm spell of these songs; by the time he graduated from Stuyvesant High School and attended Columbia, where many of these songwriters had met, rock and roll was supplanting that old-time magic. Digressive, nostalgic and deeply moving, Lehman achieves a fine, lasting tribute to the American songbook." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook--the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies--and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hears America singing--with a Yiddish accent. He guides us through America in the golden age of song, when “Embraceable You,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Cant Help Lovin Dat Man,” “My Romance,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Stormy Weather,” and countless others became nothing less than the American sound track. The stories behind these songs, the shows from which many of them came, and the shows from which many of them came, and the composers and lyricists who wrote them give voice to a specifically American saga of love, longing, assimilation, and transformation.

Lehmans analytical skills, wit, and exuberance infuse this book with an energy and a tone like no other: at once sharply observant, personally searching, and attuned to the songs that all of us love. He helps us understand how natural it should be that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated “Over the Rainbow” into his Sabbath liturgy, and why Cole Porter--the rare non-Jew in this pantheon of musicians who wrote these classic songs shaped America even as America was shaping them.

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