"The Man I Love", "I Got Rhythm", "A Foggy Day", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", "Nice Work If You Can Get It", "They All Laughed", "'S Wonderful", "The Man That Got Away" ...make a list of Ira Gershwin's songs, and the names themselvse sound a familiar melody. The most literate and word-loving of our great lyricists, Ira Gershwin described his ...
"The Man I Love", "I Got Rhythm", "A Foggy Day", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", "Nice Work If You Can Get It", "They All Laughed", "'S Wonderful", "The Man That Got Away" ...make a list of Ira Gershwin's songs, and the names themselvse sound a familiar melody. The most literate and word-loving of our great lyricists, Ira Gershwin described his writing as "simple, colloquial, rhymed conversational lines". Yet these "simple" lines were so irresistibly witty and enticing that dozens of them have made their way into the musical vernacular of the 20th century, the common memory of a song-loving culture. Now, for the first time, Ira Gershwin's entire body of work is brought together in one volume. Here are the words of more than 700 songs (nearly 400 of them never before published), beginning with his first composition and taking us through his splendid, nearly 50-year long career to the last songs he wrote for the 1964 film "Kiss Me, Stupid". A passionate reader and writer from childhood, Ira Gershwin sold his first story to "Smart Set" in 1917 at the age of 20. Yet the following year he wrote despondently in his diary: "Am still at the St Nicholas (the bathhouse in which he worked). Have done nothing in the way of writing except ideas for a couple of songs". Three months later those ideas had coalesced, and the firt song on which he worked with his brother George was performed in a Broadway show called "Ladies First". By 1924, their magical collaboration was in full swing. That was the year that "Lady, Be Good!" opened on Broadway: a smashing warm-up for what was to come. In the next 13 years they would write such scores as "Oh Kay!" ("Someone to Watch Over Me"), "Funny Face", "Strike Up the Band", "Girl Crazy" ("Embraceable You"), "Of Thee I Sing" (the first musical to win a Pullitzer Prize), "Let 'Em Eat Cake", "Porgy and Bess", "Shall We Dance" ("They Can't Take That Away From Me"), "A Damsel In Distress" and "The Goldwyn Follies" ("Love Is Here To Stay"). Theirs was one of the most illustrious collaborations in the golden age of musical comedy, their songs achieving a level of craftsmanship and excellence that profoundly influenced the future of the musical stage. It was a future they would not see together: George Gershwin died in 1937. But Ira went on to other collaborations: with Kurt Weill and Moss Hart ("Lady in the Dark"), Aaron Copland, Jerome Kern ("Cover Girl"), Arthur Schwartz, Kay Swift, Harry Warren, Burton Lane and Harold Arlen (the Judy Garland "A Star is Born"). In each case, Gershwin wed words to music with beguiling erudition, unequalled originality and a giddy boldness of rhyme. Again and again, throughout his long and amazingly productive life (he died in 1983 at the age of 86), he confirmed his status as one of the American musical's finest lyricists. Gershwin's lyrics are arranged in this book chronologically by show and movie, and each section opens with a full-page photograph - of Ira Gershwin himself, of his collaborators, or of the many performers who brought his songs to stage and screen, among them: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gertrude Lawrence, Marilyn Miller, Bert Lahr, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Fanny Brice, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Danny Kaye, Vera Zorina, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. Here, too, is Ira Gershwin's own commentary - culled from his book "Lyrics on Several Occasions" (published in 1959 and long out of print) and from interviews and letters - on collaboration, on specific songs and the making of rhyme, on language, and on life. "The Complete Lyrics of Ira Gershwin" has been compiled and edited by musical theatre historian Robert Kimball, who also edited "The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter" and who is artistic adviser to the estate of Ira Gershwin.
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