Wednesday, March 31, 1993

March 31, 1943: Oklahoma! debuted on Broadway

Originally posted June 28, 2010. Last updated September 3, 2018.

Oklahoma! (cast/soundtrack)

Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II (composers)

Opened on Broadway: March 31, 1943

Cast Album Recorded: October 20, 1943 to May 24, 1944

Cast Album Released: December 4, 1944

Soundtrack Released: August 1, 1955


Sales (in millions):
US: 3.0 c, 2.0 s
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 5.0 c+s


Peak:
US: 4 C, 18-S
UK: 13-S
Canada: --
Australia: --

Quotable: “Often called Broadway’s greatest ever” – Joel Whitburn, Pop Memories 1890-1954


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks – Cast Album:

  1. Overture
  2. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (ALFRED DRAKE)
  3. The Surrey with the Fringe on Top (ALFRED DRAKE)
  4. Kansas City (LEE DIXON/ MALE CHORUS)
  5. I Cain’t Say No (CELESTE HOLM)
  6. Many a New Day (JOAN ROBERTS)
  7. It’s a Scandal! It’s a Outrage! (JOSEPH BULOFF) *
  8. People Will Say We’re in Love (ALFRED DRAKE/ JOAN ROBERTS)
  9. Pore Jud Is Daid (ALFRED DRAKE/ HOWARD DaSILVIA)
  10. Lonely Room (ALFRED DRAKE) *
  11. Out of My Dreams (JOAN ROBERTS)
  12. The Farmer and the Cowman (BETTY GARDE/ RALPH RIGGS)
  13. All Er Nothin’ (LEE DIXON/ CELESTE HOLM)
  14. Oklahoma! (ALFRED DRAKE)
  15. Finale (ALFRED DRAKE/ JOAN ROBERTS) *
* Songs not on soundtrack version.

Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

  1. Overture
  2. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (ALFRED DRAKE/ GORDON MacRAE)
  3. The Surrey with the Fringe on Top (ALFRED DRAKE/ GORDON MacRAE/ SHIRLEY JONES)
  4. Kansas City (LEE DIXON/ GENE NELSON/ CHARLOTTE GREENWOOD)
  5. I Cain’t Say No (CELESTE HOLM/ GLORIA GRAHAME)
  6. Many a New Day (JOAN ROBERTS/ SHIRLEY JONES/ GIRLS CHORUS)
  7. People Will Say We’re in Love (GORDON MacRAE/ SHIRLEY JONES)
  8. Pore Jud Is Daid (GORDON MacRAE/ ROD STEIGER)
  9. Out of My Dreams (SHIRLEY JONES)
  10. The Farmer and the Cowman (GORDON MacRAE/ CHARLOTTE GREENWOOD)
  11. All Er Nothin’ (GLORIA GRAHAME/ GENE NELSON)
  12. Oklahoma! (GORDON MacRAE/ CHARLOTTE GREENWOOD)

Singles/Hit Songs:

People Will Say We’re in Love
Bing Crosby (1943) #2
Frank Sinatra (1943) #3
Hal Goodman (1943) #11

Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’
Frank Sinatra (1943) #12
Bing Crosby (1944) #4

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
Alfred Drake (1944) #22

As was common in the pre-rock era, multiple versions of a single song from a Broadway show would become hits. All chart positions are from the U.S. Billboard pop charts.

Review:

“The Broadway opening of Oklahoma! in 1943 is remembered as a landmark in American musical theater. The show was the first written by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, though both were theater veterans. Rodgers & Hammerstein turned out an exuberant, tuneful score in which all the songs grew out of the characters and the situations, an unusual approach in musical theater, where songs often had little relationship to the action. The point was made right at the start, when the choral number that opened most musicals was eschewed in favor of an off-stage leading man coming on and singing Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.” RC

“It ran over five years, becoming the longest running musical in Broadway history up to its time. The score threw off several hits and standards, including ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,’ The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, People Will Say We’re in Love, and the stirring title tune.” RC

Oklahoma! “also made history as the first album…to become a major chart hit, and the first significant original-cast album.” JW “Although there had been a tradition of recording music from stage works in their original form with the stage performers in Great Britain, such recordings were only occasional in the U.S., and the idea of putting together an album of several 78 rpm records containing a show’s major songs as performed on-stage was relatively new. On the day that Oklahoma! opened, the American record industry was closed down by a musicians strike but shortly after Decca Records settled with the union, company president Jack Kapp brought the Oklahoma! principals together in the recording studio and cut 12 of the show’s songs…The result…was a commercial smash that forever changed the record business and led to the domination of record sales by the cast and soundtrack albums for the next 20 years.” RC

It would more than a dozen years after the Broadway debut before the movie version emerged. Rodgers and Hammerstein were giving enough power over the production that they “assured that it would be more faithful than most Hollywood treatments. Only two songs, Lonely Room and It’s a Scandal! It’s a Outrage!, were excised from the stage show for the two-and-a-half-hour film, for which conductor Jay Blackton and Robert Russell Bennett's orchestrations were retained.” RS

“The casting responded more to musical values than to box office clout, with Gordon MacRae, best known for several cinematic pairings with Doris Day, taking the male lead role of Curly and 20-year-old Shirley Jones, a Rodgers and Hammerstein discovery, making her film debut as Laurey, the female lead. The two, along with Gloria Grahame in the showcase role of lusty Ado Annie, brought a vocal assurance to their singing that allowed them to be intimate and conversational, giving detail to an otherwise lavish (and possibly oversized) production.” RS

“These qualities come off especially well on the soundtrack album, as do Bennett’s arrangements, which really shine in the stereo separation denied them on the original Broadway cast album. The result is an outstanding rendering of the score that gives it a bigger, broader interpretation and has continued to sound impressive over the decades, which may be one reason why the album, which topped the charts upon release and sold more than two million copies, has remained in print continually since it first appeared.” RS


Review Sources:
  • RC William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide (review of cast album)
  • RS William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide (review of soundtrack)
  • JW Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954 (page 341). Record Research: Menomonee Falls, WI.

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Tuesday, March 9, 1993

Sting Ten Summoner’s Tales released

Ten Summoner’s Tales

Sting


Released: March 9, 1993


Peak: 2 US, 2 UK, 3 CN, 9 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.6 UK, 9.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. If I Ever Lose My Faith in You [4:30] (2/13/93, 17 US, 5 CB, 5 RR, 8 AC, 5 AR, 4 MR, 14 UK, 1 CN, 41 AU)
  2. Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven) [5:12]
  3. Fields of Gold [3:42] (5/15/93, 23 US, 16 CB, 11 RR, 2 AC, 24 AR, 12 MR, 16 UK, 2 CN, 85 AU)
  4. Heavy Cloud No Rain [3:39]
  5. She’s Too Good for Me [2:30]
  6. Seven Days [4:40] (4/24/93, 25 UK)
  7. Saint Augustine in Hell [5:05]
  8. It’s Probably Me * (Sting, Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen) [4:57] (6/13/92, 47 AC, 20 AR, 30 UK, 23 AU)
  9. Shape of My Heart (Sting, Dominic Miller) [4:38] (9/4/93, 57 UK)
  10. Something the Boy Said [5:13]
  11. Epilogue (Nothing ‘Bout Me) [3:39] (9/24/93, 57 US, 43 CB, 24 RR, 17 AC, 32 UK)

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.

* Originally recorded by Sting and Eric Clapton for the Lethal Weapon III soundtrack. Sting re-recorded the song for Ten Summoner’s Tales. Chart information is for the original version.


Total Running Time: 52:31

Rating:

4.431 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)


Quotable: “More consistently satisfying than anything else in his catalog” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“After two albums of muted, mature jazz-inflected pop, the last being an explicit album about death, Sting created his first unapologetically pop album since the Police with Ten Summoner's Tales. The title, a rather awkward pun on his given last name, is significant, since it emphasizes that this album is a collection of songs, without any musical conceits or lyrical concepts tying it together. And, frankly, that's a bit of a relief after the oppressively somber The Soul Cages and the hushed, though lovely, Nothing Like the Sun.” AMG

“Sting even loosens up enough to crack jokes, both clever (the winking litany of celebrity pains of Epilogue [Nothing 'Bout Me]) and condescending (the sneeringly catchy cowboy tale Love Is Stronger Than Justice [The Munificent Seven]), and the result is his best solo record.” AMG

“In places, it’s easily as pretentious as his earlier work, but that’s undercut by writing that hasn’t been this sharp and melodic since the Police, plus his most varied set of songs since Synchronicity. True, there isn’t a preponderance of flat-out classics – only the surging opener If I Ever Lose My Faith in You, the understated swing of It’s Probably Me, and the peaceful ballad Fields of Gold rank as classics – but, as an album, Ten Summoner’s Tales is more consistently satisfying than anything else in his catalog.” AMG


Notes: “Everybody Laughed But You” was included on the album outside of the U.S/Canadian release.

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/26/2021.

Monday, March 8, 1993

3/8/1993: Beck released “Loser”

First posted 2/27/2021.

Loser

Beck

Writer(s): Beck, Carl Stephenson (see lyrics here)


Released: March 8, 1993


First Charted: December 25, 1993


Peak: 10 US, 14 CB, 16 RR, 39 AR, 15 MR, 15 UK, 7 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.6 US, 0.2 UK, 0.84 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 136.0 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Loser” was originally released in March 1993 by independent record label Bong Load Custom Records as Beck’s second single. The song garnered play on modern rock stations, leading to a major record deal with DGC Records, a subsidiary of Geffen Records. The song was rereleased and made the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1994. It went to #1 in Norway and was a top 10 hit in Australia, Austria, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden.

At 18, Beck moved from Los Angeles to New York City where he lived as a homeless musician in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He returned to L.A. in 1991 and worked low-wage jobs while performing at local coffee houses and clubs. As he said, “I knew my folk music would take off if I put hip-hop beats behind it.” WK To keep audiences’ attention, he would, as he said, “make up these ridiculous songs just to see if people were listening. ‘Loser’ was an extension of that.” WK

After being signed to Bong Load, Beck worked with Carl Stephenson, a record producer for Rap-A-Lot Records. Stephenson wasn’t impressed with Beck’s rapping, but looped a guitar part from one of Beck’s songs, added a drum track, his own sitar, and other samples to craft the musical bed for “Loser.” Beck wrote and improvised disjointed lyrics, but said the song’s roots stemmed to the late ‘80s. When listening to his efforts, Beck thought, “Man, I’m the worst rapper in the world; I’m just a loser.” WK The sentiment became the premise of the song.

The song has been viewed as a parody of the slacker culture of Generation X and associated with the “self-deprecating, anti-corporate” SF nature of the grunge scene, although Beck didn’t associate with that movement. SF The New York Times’ Jon Pareles compared Beck’s “offhand vocal tone and free-associative lyrics” to “Bob Dylan talk-singing.” WK All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine referred to the song as “stoner rap,” but The Boston Globe’s James Reed called it “an alternative rock anthem.” WK The song topped the Village Voice critics’ poll in 1994.


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Saturday, March 6, 1993

Harry James hit #1 with “I’ve Heard That Song Before” for first of 13 weeks 50 years ago today (3/6/1943)

First posted 1/6/2013; updated 1/26/2020.

I’ve Heard That Song Before

Harry James and Helen Forrest

Writer(s): Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn (see lyrics here)


First Charted: January 16, 1943


Peak: 113 US, 14 HP, 11 RB (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards:

Review:

Composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn launched a successful musical writing partnership with this song TY about how musical numbers aid listeners in strolling down memory lane and thinking about lost loves. It was featured in the 1942 film, Youth on Parade and landed an Academy Award nomination. The pair went on to write together for numerous films and Broadway musicals, winning an Oscar for the title song of 1954’s Three Coins in the Fountain. Both are Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees.

Bob Crosby introduced the song in Youth on Parade, but it was the version by the Harry James’ Orchestra with Helen Forrest on vocals which became the hit. They recorded the song on July 31, 1942, one day before the Musician Union’s ban. WK Their rendition charted in January of 1943 and became the biggest song of the year WHC-62 and one of the biggest #1 hits in history. In the pre-rock era, only Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Francis Craig’s “Near You” spent more weeks atop the charts.

James was a trumpeter who’d played with Ben Pollack and then Benny Goodman before starting his own band in 1938. For several years, he charted only with instrumentals. However, in 1941-42, his hits tended to feature vocalists, including Forrest on the #1 song “I Don’t Want to Walk without You.” PM When the Musician Union’s ban disrupted the release of new recordings, Columbia dipped into their vaults and released older recordings by James. The most significant was a 1939 recording of “All or Nothing at All” which featured a then largely-unknown Frank Sinatra. PM

Before working with James, Forrest recorded with bandleader Artie Shaw (“They Say,” “Thanks for Everything;” both #1’s) from 1938-39 and then had her own stint with Goodman (“Taking a Chance on Love”, #1) from 1939 to 1941. After working with James from 1941-43, she also had success recording with Dick Haymes (“Long Ago and Far Away”, #2).

Other artists to record the song included Pat Boone, the King Cole Trio, Steve Lawrence, Vera Lynn, Al Martino, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, and Margaret Whiting. WK The song has also been featured in the 1986 Woody Allen movie, Hannah and Her Sisters.


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