Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

She Wrote the Song: Women Composers of Popular American Music

"She Wrote the Song" highlights standards written by women composers who, in the early decades of American popular song, had to struggle for the limelight.

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Dorothy Fields Album Cover

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Dorothy Fields, one of the women composers of popular American music, partnered with Jimmy McHugh and Jerome Kern to give us classics such as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

“She Wrote the Song” highlights standards written or co-written by women composers who, in the early decades of American popular song, had to struggle for the limelight, as women had to in so many areas of American life.

Dorothy Fields (subject of the forthcoming book I Feel a Song Coming On: Dorothy Fields and the American Musical) partnered with Jimmy McHugh and Jerome Kern to give us classics such as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Una Mae Carlisle was a teen protege of Fats Waller and went on to score hits with “Walkin’ By the River” and “I See a Million People” (recorded by Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman).

Irene Kitchings wrote only a handful of songs–some of them inspired by the end of her marriage to pianist Teddy Wilson–but her friend Billie Holiday recorded them and immortalized one in particular, “Some Other Spring.”

Betty Comden and writing partner Adolph Green were prominent participants in the American musical scene of the 1940s and 50s. We’ll hear all of these composers’ songs interpreted by Holiday, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Tierney Sutton and more.

Music Heard On This Episode

Willow Weep for Me
Frank Sinatra — Only the Lonely (Capitol, 1998)
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Willow Weep for Me
Frank Sinatra — Only the Lonely (Capitol, 1998)
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Exactly Like You
Count Basie/Jimmy Rushing — Complete Decca Recordings (Decca/GRP, 1992)
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I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Louis Armstrong — Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Sony , 1994)
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On the Sunny Side of the Street
Ella Fitzgerald — The Concert Years (Pablo, 1994)
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Don't Blame Me
Nat King Cole — For Sentimental Reasons--25 Early Vocal Classics (ASV, 1997)
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Pick Yourself Up
Anita O'Day — A Fine Romance: the Jerome Kern Songbook (Polygram, 1994)
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A Fine Romance
Fred Astaire — Starring Fred Astaire (Sony, 1989)
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The Way You Look Tonight
Fred Astaire — A Fine Romance: the Jerome Kern Songbook (Polygram, 1994)
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The Party's Over
Peggy Lee — Latin a la Lee (Capitol, 2003)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Some Other Spring
Billie Holiday — Lady Sings the Blues (Verve, 2007)
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I'm Pulling Through
Diana Krall — The Girl In the Other Room (Verve, 2004)
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Walkin' By the River
Una Mae Carlisle — 1938-1941 (Chronological Classics, 2001)
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I See a Million People
Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman — Complete Recordings 1941-47 (Columbia/Legacy, 1999)
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Make Someone Happy
Tierney Sutton — On the Other Side (TelArc, 2007)
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Lucky to Be Me
Blossom Dearie — Sings Comden and Green (Universal, 2001)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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