Category Archives: Songwriters

Who will buy?

You’ve probably never heard of composer Richard Trentlage, but every kid—at least in Wisconsin—knows his most famous song: Back in 1962, Trentlage came up with his “Oscar Mayer Wiener Song” when the company (based in Madison, Wisconsin until a few … Continue reading

Posted in Music and emotion, Music history, Songwriters | Tagged | 4 Comments

It’s Christmas time in the city

Titles make a difference. The musical Oklahoma! was called Away We Go! when it opened at the Shubert Theatre in Connecticut in 1943. Film producer Mike Todd famously remarked at the end of Act 1, “No legs, no jokes, no … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Songwriters | Tagged | 3 Comments

Have you got any dragons you want to have killed, baby?

When I was about 12, my dad built a television set from a Heath kit. He taught me how to solder the circuitry so I could help. When the tv was finished, he cut and framed a hole in the … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Reminiscences, Songwriters | Tagged | 2 Comments

Fools rush in

I’ve learned from experience to expect the unexpected when I play music in a memory-care setting. Sometimes audience members loudly demand to be taken back to their rooms. Others obediently follow instructions from staff to sit down and “listen to … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Piano performance, Songwriters, Volunteering | Tagged | 2 Comments

One is the loneliest number

Some of my audiences enjoy hearing a little background information about each song before I play it: when it was written and by whom, how it came to be. So I’m always on the lookout for music history anecdotes to … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Songwriters | 2 Comments

I write the songs, I write the songs

What comes first, a song’s melody or its lyrics? That’s a chicken-or-egg question. Among famous songwriting duos, the Gershwin brothers took a common approach: George wrote the melody and gave it to Ira, who set it to words. The team … Continue reading

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Do you believe in magic?

One of my favorite memories from last summer involves a couple of amiable millennials: my daughter, Jessa, and her cousin Zoë. On a warm August evening, as we relaxed and chatted on the patio after dinner, darkness descended and the … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Reminiscences, Songwriters | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Birth of the boogie

Nick asked if I’d ever heard a song that starts like this: “In a little honky tonky village in Texas, there’s a guy who plays the best piano by far …” I recognized the words right away. They come from … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Song requests, Songwriters, Volunteering | Tagged | 7 Comments

Michigan, my Michigan

What rhymes with Michigan? How about “fish again”? Or “wish again”? That’s what Irving Berlin came up with when he wrote the lyrics for “I Want to Go Back to Michigan,” which Judy Garland sang in the 1948 film Easter … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Reminiscences, Songwriters | Tagged , | 11 Comments

A woman in a man’s world

Female songwriters were rare in the first half of the 20th century. A few lyricists come to mind: Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”) Betty Comden (“The Party’s Over”) Carolyn Leigh (“Young at Heart”) A handful of … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Songwriters | Tagged , | 2 Comments