MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
They may not have the same name recognition as Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe, but the songwriting duo of Schwartz and Dietz nevertheless made significant contributions to the American Songbook. From the 1920s through the 1960s, composer Arthur Schwartz and lyricist Howard Dietz wrote Broadway musicals like The Band Wagon and Inside U.S.A., and their songs like “You and The Night and The Music” or “That’s Entertainment” were championed by singers like Fred Astaire, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé and more. This week on the program, we’ll explore the standards written by this underrated songwriting pair.
It’s Dancing In The Dark: The Songs of Schwartz and Dietz, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, “THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT”
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, “A SHINE ON YOUR SHOES”
Two songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz that each appeared in the 1953 MGM film musical The Band Wagon, starring the great Fred Astaire. Just now, we heard the song “A Shine On Your Shoes,” which was originally written for the 1932 stage musical revue Flying Colors. And before that, the popular tune “That’s Entertainment,” which was written by Schwartz and Dietz expressly for the 1953 MGM film. That song basically became MGM’s theme song in the 1950s. Those recordings both come from Tony Bennett’s 1993 Fred Astaire tribute album Steppin’ Out.
MUSIC CLIP - DAVE MCKENNA, “A SHINE ON YOUR SHOES”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, we’re exploring the songs of the Broadway songwriting duo of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.
For composer Arthur Schwartz—born in Brooklyn in the year 1900—songwriting was just a hobby. He received almost no formal training. Instead, he studied English and Law at both Columbia and New York University. In 1925, he opened a fairly successful law firm in New York City, but kept writing music only on the side.
Likewise for lyricist Howard Dietz, born in New York in 1896. He studied journalism at Columbia, and wrote lyrics merely as a side project for many years while working primarily as an advertising agent. Fun fact, Dietz was actually the ad agent who suggested to a young film producer named Samuel Goldwyn, then based in New Jersey that his new motion picture company Goldwyn Pictures should use a lion for its logo. That lion, later named “Leo The Lion,” would go on to become the famous MGM lion when Goldwyn moved out to Hollywood. Howard Dietz actually held the position as the head of publicity for MGM until 1957, after he had already established himself as a songwriter.
The story of the Schwartz and Dietz partnership actually begins in 1924, when Schwartz, the composer, was working at a summer camp with the then-unknown lyricist Lorenz Hart. Schwartz and Hart formed a bond as fledgling songwriters, and even wrote a song together at the camp called “I Love To Lie Awake In Bed.” The song, however, went nowhere, but Schwartz held onto that melody.
Five years later, it was Larry Hart who suggested to his old friend Arthur Schwartz that he should forget about his law firm for a year and pursue songwriting in earnest. Schwartz agreed. He eventually connected with a Broadway producer, who put him in touch with a potential songwriting partner, an ad agent and lyricist by the name of Howard Dietz.
The first Schwartz and Dietz collaboration came in 1929 for the Broadway revue The Little Show. Their big breakout hit from the show was based on that old summer camp melody that Schwartz had written with Lorenz Hart. Dietz added new lyrics to the tune, turning it into the song “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan.” Let’s hear that song now.
This is Mel Tormé in 1961 with the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz song “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - MEL TORMÉ, “I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLAN”
MUSIC - BING CROSBY AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY, “SOMETHING TO REMEMBER YOU BY”
A few songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. Just now, we heard Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney from their radio program together in 1953 with “Something To Remember You By.” That originally comes from the 1930 Schwartz and Dietz musical Three’s A Crowd. Starting that set, a song from the 1929 revue The Little Show, “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan,” sung there by Mel Tormé in 1961.
Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s next musical was the first where the pair wrote the complete score, and it also became one of their most successful. The Band Wagon from 1931 starred Fred Astaire with his Adele, featured a story co-written by the later Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright George S. Kaufman, and was one of the first Broadway shows to have a revolving stage. It was later made into a successful MGM film starring Fred Astaire in 1953.
The show also included one of Schwartz and Dietz’s most memorable and celebrated songs. I’ll play that now.
This is Fred Astaire himself in 1952 from his album The Astaire Story performing the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz song “Dancing In The Dark,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - FRED ASTAIRE, “DANCING IN THE DARK”
MUSIC - LOUIS ARMSTRONG, “GOT A BRAN’ NEW SUIT”
Louis Armstrong in 1935 with the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz song “Got A Bran’ New Suit,” a song originally performed by Ethel Waters that same year in the musical At Home Abroad. Before that, Fred Astaire with Oscar Peterson in 1952 and the Schwartz and Dietz song “Dancing In The Dark,” originally from the 1931 musical The Band Wagon.
Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s next musical revue after The Band Wagon, titled Flying Colors, was not nearly as big of a success. However, it did provide one solid jazz standard, and a few songs that showed up in the film version The Band Wagon in 1953, including “A Shine On Your Shoes” and “Louisiana Hayride.” I’ll play for you now that enduring jazz standard, which has been performed by jazz stars like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, and more.
Here is singer Joe Williams in 1961 with the Schwartz and Dietz song “Alone Together,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - JOE WILLIAMS, “ALONE TOGETHER”
A song from the 1932 musical Flying Colors, written by songwriters Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. That was Joe Williams in 1961 with the jazz standard “Alone Together.”
MUSIC CLIP - CHET BAKER, “ALONE TOGETHER”
We’ll have more from the Schwartz and Dietz songbook in just a bit. Stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - LOU LEVY, "A GAL IN CALICO"
MUSIC CLIP - WARREN VACHÉ and BILL CHARLAP, “YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring the songs of composer Arthur Schwartz and lyricist Howard Dietz this hour, a somewhat lesser known songwriting pair from the American Songbook.
In the mid 1930s, Schwartz and Dietz expanded their musical output. Up until this point, they had been writing songs almost exclusively for musical revues, stage shows that were combinations of songs, dances, and sketches designed to show off their performers, but fairly light on any kind of plot. In 1934, they turned their attention to book musicals, shows that centered around a single story, with the songs and dances contributing to that story in some way—similar to most musicals as we know them today. The first of these for Schwartz and Dietz was the show Revenge With Music, to which Dietz wrote the book, based on a steamy Spanish folk tale of seduction, political intrigue, and revenge.
Let’s hear two songs from that show now, both of which Schwartz considered to be among his best melodies. I’ll start with Frank Sinatra at the end of 1960 from his Reprise album Ring-A-Ding-Ding and the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz song “You And The Night And The Music,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, “YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC”
MUSIC - DICK HAYMES, “IF THERE IS SOMEONE LOVELIER THAN YOU”
Singer Dick Haymes in 1955 with the ballad “If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You.” And before that, Frank Sinatra in 1960 with “You And The Night And The Music.” Both of those songs come from the 1934 book musical Revenge With Music by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. The musical, sadly, was a failure, and ran for only about 150 performances. That last song, “If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You,” also showed up as a song Schwartz and Dietz wrote for a weekly musical comedy series on the radio called The Gibson Family, the first series of its kind. The duo wrote nearly 100 songs in total for the series in 1936, many of which were recycled for (or from) their stage musicals.
The next show for composer Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz was the 1937 musical Between The Devil, yet another book musical written by Dietz. This one revolves around the plot of a man who remarries because he mistakenly believes his wife has died. Like Revenge With Music, the show was a flop. But also like Revenge With Music, the show produced not one but TWO songs that have gone on to become standards. Let’s hear them now.
First up is Doris Day in 1957 with the Schwartz and Dietz song “I See Your Face Before Me,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - DORIS DAY, “I SEE YOUR FACE BEFORE ME”
MUSIC - HELEN MERRILL, “BY MYSELF”
Singer Helen Merrill and arranger Gil Evans with the song “By Myself.” That’s from her 1956 album titled Dream of You. Before that, Doris Day in 1957 from her album titled Day By Night with the tune “I See Your Face Before Me.” Both of those songs come from the 1937 Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz musical Between The Devil.
After the two Broadway flops of Revenge With Music and Between The Devil, Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz parted ways for several years. Dietz kept busy by focusing on publicity work for the film studio MGM, and eventually working on publicity for the U.S. Treasury department, trying to raise money for war bonds. Schwartz, on the other hand, stayed committed to writing music.
Schwartz wrote songs for Broadway musicals, Hollywood films, and even the Hit Parade, working with a number of lyricists over the years besides Howard Dietz, including Dorothy Fields, Frank Loesser, Leo Robin, Ira Gershwin, and Yip Harburg. I’ll play two songs now with music by Schwartz, one dating from the 1930s, the other from the 1950s.
I’ll start with a song he wrote in 1934, during his heyday writing alongside Howard Dietz. Here is Peggy Lee in 1957 with a song written by Arthur Schwartz and lyricist Yip Harburg. This is “Then I’ll Be Tired Of You,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - PEGGY LEE, “THEN I’LL BE TIRED OF YOU”
MUSIC - JOHNNY MATHIS, “I’LL BUY YOU A STAR”
Johnny Mathis in 1961 with the Arthur Schwartz and Dorothy Fields song “I’ll Buy You A Star.” That originally comes from the duo’s 1951 musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Schwartz and Fields first worked together in 1939 on the musical Stars In Your Eyes, starring Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante. Before that, a song written by Arthur Schwartz and Yip Harburg in 1934. That was Peggy Lee with “Then I’ll Be Tired Of You,” recorded with Nelson Riddle in 1957.
After eleven years of working separately, composer Arthur Schwartz and lyricist Howard Dietz teamed up again in 1948 for their last great musical collaboration, the musical revue Inside U.S.A. Based loosely on the 1947 travel memoir by author John Gunther, this musical ended up being a success, running for over 300 performances and producing several memorable songs, both romantic and comical.
In the years that followed, Schwartz and Dietz teamed up a few more times, including the musicals The Gay Life in 1961 and Jennie in 1963, neither of which had much success. Their biggest success came with the aforementioned 1953 film version of their earlier hit musical The Band Wagon, which revived many of their older tunes, and introduced the world to probably their last great song, the showstopper “That’s Entertainment.”
Howard Dietz had mostly retired by the 1960s, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Schwartz, on the other hand, remained a dedicated musical craftsman, writing for the stage, film, and television, and even serving as the director of the performers-rights organization ASCAP for several decades. His son Jonathan, became a noted advocate for the Great American Songbook as a DJ on New York radio for many years, as well.
Composer Alec Wilder once said of Arthur Schwartz that he wrote, quote, “some of the finest American songs in existence.” (end quote) Of course, no fine songwriter found success without fine words to sing, and about that specific art, Howard Dietz himself once said, quote, “a good lyric writer can put words to music and have it come out as though he’d put music to words.”
I’ll close off this hour of songs by Schwartz and Dietz with two songs from Inside U.S.A., beginning with a lovely, haunting ballad. This is Jo Stafford in 1950 with the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz song “Haunted Heart,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - JO STAFFORD, “HAUNTED HEART”
MUSIC - BLOSSOM DEARIE, “RHODE ISLAND IS FAMOUS FOR YOU”
Blossom Dearie in 1960 with “Rhode Island Is Famous For You.” Before that, Jo Stafford a decade earlier with “Haunted Heart.” Both of those songs come from the 1948 musical revue Inside U.S.A., one of the last great musicals by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - CANNONBALL ADDERLY, “DANCING IN THE DARK”
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow.