Saturday, January 06, 2007

The new 2007 ME!

On a list I belong to devoted to American Popular Song and its purveyors, someone wrote in to ask "What is Gordon Jenkins' 'Manhattan Tower"? The old me woulda wrote, "You've got to be kidding." But, instead, the new snark-free me posted the following:

Better yet, what ISN"T it? At first it was a mid-1940s concept album, but could have been a radio special before that? Then in 1956 a Saturday Night TV SPEC-TAC-U-LAR (eeeek!) with a cast conisisting of Helen O'Connell, Peter Marshall, Hans Conreid, Phil Harris, Ethel Waters, Cesar Romero, Edward Everett Horton!

And you haven't lived until you're heard Chris Connor's version of the production's "Skyscraper Blues," She also recorded its "Happy New Year." Both on Atlantique.

Here's the opening narration of MT:

“It was raining the first time I saw my tower. That is, the first time I saw it reality. In my mind I had seen it many times before.

“The outside of the building was as beautiful as the outside of anything can be, but the inside was pure enchantment. The elevator operator was Merlin. My feet touched the magic carpet as I ran down the hall and the key that I turned in the lock was Aladdin’s lamp.

“As I entered the tower for the first time I knew that at last I had found contentment. A home that I would leave many times, yet never really leave.

“I went over to the window. The sound of traffic on a New York Street creates a strange music. It is an orchestra conducted by the Statue of Liberty with the words engraved forever on her side. It is a great organ played upon by Father Knickerbocker, master organist.

“I opened my tower windows wide to let the music in. Uptown. Downtown. Chinatown. Harlem. Broadway. Times Square. Broadway. Broadway. Broadway.”

T'was a far far better world I tell you, a far, far better world! Now if they did it on TV, t'would be a rap version with Snoop Doggy Dogg in drag, and Fifty Cents. (Damn kids!)

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