The Great American Songbook

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

TitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
Harry Warren20160209

Leo Green considers why it is that we never seem to talk about Harry Warren in the way we do Gershwin, Porter or Kern. Was it, is as he said himself, that he was first and foremost a family man preferring to spend time with them away from the Hollywood party scene. Or did he just not need to be recognised as one of the famous. As one of eleven children born to a first generation Italian immigrant family in Brooklyn, Warren's rise to songwriting fame was astonishing - as well composing as a mere 42 top 10 hits of which 21 went to Number 1, his songs feature on more than 300 movies and his melodies can be heard on more than 100 Looney Tunes cartoons; There were also Academy Awards and the small matter of the musical 42nd Street making him an unrivalled master.

Irving Berlin20160223

Leo Green celebrates the music of Irving Berlin. Not being able to write a note of music didn't exactly hinder Berlin becoming one, if not, the greatest contributor to The Great American Songbook with songs such as Alexander's Ragtime Band, Anything You Can Do, Blue Skies, Change Partners, Cheek To Cheek, Easter Parade, Fools Fall In Love, God Bless America, How Deep Is The Ocean, Isn't This A Lovely Day, Let's Face The Music And Dance, On The Avenue, Puttin' On The Ritz, Top Hat, White Tie And Tails, What'll I Do? and of course White Christmas. He actually wrote in excess of 1000 songs by humming or whistling the melodies to a series of musical secretaries or by bashing them out on his specially designed piano. He could only play in one key and would use only the black notes, employing a specially designed handle on the side of the piano which he used to change key at his desired moment. Jerome Kern probably put it best when he said "Irving Berlin has no place in Amercian music- Irving Berlin is American music.

Johnny Mercer20160202

Leo Green focusses on Johnny Mercer. As well as launching the iconic Capitol Records label Mercer was an accomplaished actor, successful singer and a poet who gave us some of the greatest, saddest and most romantic lyrics in the Great American Songbook.

Sammy Cahn20160216

Leo Green celebrates the Oscar winning song writer Sammy Cahn and wonders where his musical gift came from. He was born into an immigrant family from Galicia who had no history of music making where even piano lessons were 'only for girls'. The curios and talented Sammy quickly found his way to Vaudeville Theatres and into the life of a travelling musician but it's his remarkable list of songs like Come Fly With Me, The Tender Trap, My Kind Of Town and Three Coins In The Fountain that make him stand out as one for the greats of the song writing world.