ìPeople are staring at us,î Arlen whispered to Monroe. ìThey must know who you are!î she replied. The joke, as Arlen knew, was on him. Although his catalogue included ìI’ve Got the World on a String,î ìThat Old Black Magic,î ìOne for My Baby (and One More for the Road),î ìGet Happy,î and ìOver the Rainbowîówhich was voted the twentieth century’s No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of AmericaóArlen was virtually anonymous. ìWho’s Harold Arlen?î Truman Capote asked in 1953, when it was suggested that he collaborate with the composer on the musical version of his short story ìHouse of Flowers.î In 1955, at a concert in Cairo partly devoted to American music, five Arlen songsóìAc-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,î ìIll Wind,î ìBlues in the Night,î ìI Gotta Right to Sing the Blues,î and ìStormy Weatherîówere billed, without attribution, as American ìfolk songs.î Even this year, which happens to be the centennial of Arlen’s birth (he died in 1986), at a celebration for a postage stamp honoring the late lyricist E. Y. Harburg, with whom Arlen wrote a hundred and eleven songs, including the score for ìThe Wizard of Oz,î no one thought to even mention Arlen.
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product_title=Come Rain or Come Shine
product_by=by John Lahr, New Yorker [Issue of 19 September 2005]