Before the arranging, recording, and mixing of In The Good Old Summertime was the choosing of the pieces themselves – finding selections that reflect the “old time” feel intended for the album. Here’s a some background on the songs selected and orchestrations developed for In The Good Old Summertime:
In The Good Old Summertime begins (not surprisingly) with In The Good Old Summertime, the classic summertime waltz by George Evans and Ren Shields. This version includes a chorus of Let Me Call You Sweetheart (Friedman and Whitson) to add a little more romance, and keeps the arrangement simple – perhaps what you might hear while sitting on the porch sipping a cold lemonade, with the wind whispering through the trees.
You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It) (Monaco and McCarthy) was actually written about 25 years before Judy Garland so famously sang it in Broadway Melody of 1938 while writing a fan letter to Clark Gable. (And over 50 years later, a modified version was sung by Bette Midler to Johnny Carson as he concluded 30 years as host of The Tonight Show). The piano arrangement reflects the original ragtime roots of the song.
Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers (Darewski and Weston) is one of the best known tongue-twisters from the years of World War I. The orchestration mimics what might be found in an English Music Hall, with single players each on piano, drums, bass, trumpet, violin, clarinet, and trombone.
While If You Were The Only Girl (Ayer and Grey) was written in the early 1900’s, its place in the Great American Songbook seems secure. It has been covered by singers ranging from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin to Peggy Lee, Doris Day and Barbra Streisand (as If You Were The Only Boy), but perhaps most famously by Perry Como. This Barbershop arrangement pays tribute to the classic version recorded by Como and the wonderful Buffalo Bills.
The music for I Was So Young was written by 21-year old George Gershwin, who worked with lyricists Alfred Bryan and Irving Caesar to develop “additional music” for the 1919 musical Good Morning, Judge. Gershwin’s musical sophistication shines through even at this young age in this hauntingly beautiful piece of love lost.
The album closes with Always, which was written by Irving Berlin as a wedding gift for his wife. Included here as a counterpoint to I Was So Young, this seemingly simple – yet intricate – piece speaks to love that is not only found, but which endures Always.