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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/16/11

The Strange Story of a Rodgers and Hart Hit Song

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Message Phil Klein
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The songwriting team of Rodgers & Hart created many songs for movies and stage but one of their greatest   hits was their only one which came from neither.

What makes this tale even stranger is that the tune of the song had lyrics set to it for two different movies.   The first movie, HOLLYWOOD PARTY , never got past the initial planning stage.    In it, Jean Harlow (as a chorus girl) was supposed to sing a song entitled THE PRAYER   (as a supplication to The Lord to make her a star.)   With the scrubbing of the film, the song never received any public exposure. But in 1933, it was given a new title and lyrics and used in a gangster movie called MANHATTAN MELODRAMA ,*   which starred Clark Gable.   This time, the song's title became THE BAD IN EVERY MAN.   Although the movie was a hit and widely viewed (including by myself as a kid) the song made no favorable public impression.

This did not set well with Larry Hart, and he bemoaned that fact to the publisher, who suggested that he try to  give the tune "more commercial" lyrics for common folks like himself, and include words such as "moon" and "June".   Hart was offended and retorted sarcastically, "Commercial? I suppose you mean something like Blue Moon!"   - to which the publisher exclaimed "That's it!"

Thus, BLUE MOON, the song, came to be!!

I can tell you as a piano player, (who has played BLUE MOON   a million times,) that I don't particularly care for it because of its hackneyed chord changes.   (They are, as represented by Roman Numerals:   I   vi   ii   V.)   If that means nothing to you - and you are old enough - the bass notes of those chords make up the tune of the ditty: "We want Cantor!"   (repeat a few dozen times for Eddie Cantor's benefit!)

It's truly amazing how many of the great hits have stories connected with them; both funny and sad.

*   The movie MANHATTAN MELODRAMA was the last  that   Public Enemy #1,   John Dillinger ever viewed.   And the song, THE BAD IN EVERY MAN, was the last song he ever heard.    Upon emerging from Chicago's Biograph Theater, John Dillinger was mowed down by J. Edgar Hoover's machine gun-wielding F.B.I. agents. They had been tipped off to his whereabouts by "the lady in red""

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I have spent a long and interesting life involved in music, as a performer (piano,) educator (at every level from elementary to graduate school,) solo pianist, bandleader, composer/songwriter; entertainer, storyteller and humorist. In my final (more...)
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