Friday, May 23, 2008

100 years ago: “The Glow-Worm” hit #1 for the first of 3 times

The Glow-Worm

Victor Orchestra

Writer(s): Paul Lincke (music), Lilla Cayley Robinson and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 16, 1908


Peak: 15 US, 12 GA, 16 SM (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 (sheet music)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, -- video, -- streaming

The Glow-Worm

The Mills Brothers with Hal McIntyre’s Orchestra


First Charted: September 27, 1952


Peak: 13 US, 12 HP, 11 CB (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 (sheet music), 1.0 (US physical sales)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 1.15 video, -- streaming

Awards (Victor Orchestra):

Click on award for more details.


Awards (Mills Brothers):

About the Song:

Composer Paul Lincke wrote “The Glow Worm” (original title: “Das Glühwürmchen”) in 1902 for the operatta Lysistratra. The original lyrics were written in German by Heinz Bolten-Backers. TY2 and was originally sung as a trio by Cäcilie Carola, Emma Malkowsky & Kathi Herold. SM It was introduced in the United States in 1907 TY2 by May Naudain in the Broadway musical The Girl Behind the Counter. Lilla Cayley Robinson translated the lyrics into English.

In 1908, there were successful chart versions of the song from the Victor Orchestra and Lucy Isabelle Marsh. Each spent five weeks at #1. It was the biggest hit to date for the publisher. DJ In 1925, Nathaniel Shilkret recorded an instrumental version of the song. WK The Victor Orchestra was the in-house band for the Victor Talking Machine Company, usually recording classical or backing opera singers. SM Their version “started as a piece of music played by staccato strings and the recognisable sound of a bell ringing in time. Only after one minute ten seconds, did the recognisable tune of the chorus enter and that lasted for only thirty seconds, after which, a vocal chorus to sing through the chorus once.” SM

“Glow worm” was a term used in Europe for “the wingless female larva of the species Lampyris noctilluca, which glows and resembles a worm.” PS In 1952, the song was given new lyrics by Johnny Mercer, “one of the best lyricists in the history of popular song.” PS Since the glow-worm is not readily found stateside, PS he made it a reference to the insect we know as a firefly. PS He also used phrases like “a cute little pocket mazda” which now would suggest a car brand, but was then a brand of General Electric light bulbs. PS

This earned the song an astonishing third trip to the pinnacle with a version by the Mills Brothers that gave the song a more upbeat tempo and used lyrics both by Mercer and Robinson. TY2 Their recording “harkened back to a decade earlier, when Glenn Miller ruled the universe. It was a blasting, big band sound” PS with orchestration by Hal McIntyre, a founding member of Miller’s orchestra from 1937 to 1942. PS It also featured “Harry Mills’ ultra-smooth lead…[which is] as close to perfection as a recording can get.” PS Mercer himself also charted with the song, reaching #30.


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First posted 12/8/2022; last updated 12/15/2022.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 15, 1958: The movie musical Gigi opened

Originally posted November 22, 2008. Last updated September 3, 2018.

Gigi (soundtrack/cast)

Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics)/ Frederick Loewe (music)

Movie Opened: May 15, 1958

Soundtrack Charted: June 23, 1958

Cast Album Charted: February 9, 1974


Sales (in millions):
US: 0.5 S
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 0.5 S


Peak:
US: 110-S
UK: 2 S
Canada: --
Australia: --

C cast album
S soundtrack

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

  1. Gigi Overture (MGM STUDIO ORCHESTRA)
  2. Thank Heaven for Little Girls (MAURICE CHEVALIER/ MGM STUDIO CHORUS)
  3. It’s a Bore (MAURICE CHEVALIER/ LOUIS JOURDAN)
  4. The Parisians (LESLIE CARON/ MGM STUDIO ORCHESTRA/ ANDRÉ PREVIN)
  5. Waltz at Maxim’s (She’s Not Thinking of Me) (LOUIS JOURDAN/ MGM STUDIO ORCHESTRA)
  6. The Night They Invented Champagne (LESLIE CARON/ BETTY WAND/ HERMIONE GINGOLD)
  7. I Remember It Well (MAURICE CHEVALIER/ HERMIONE GINGOLD)
  8. Say a Prayer for Me Tonight (BETTY WAND)
  9. I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore (MAURICE CHEVALIER)
  10. Gigi (Gaston’s Soliloquy) (LOUIS JOURDAN)
  11. Finale

Review:

After the Broadway magic of 1956’s My Fair Lady, Lerner & Loewe turned their talents toward movie making. Alan Jay Lerner wrote a screenplay for Gigi, based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. He also provided the lyrics for the film’s featured songs and Frederick Loewe created the music, which was arranged and conducted by André Previn. WK-S

The film, directed by Vincente Minnelli, “is considered the last great Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical and the final great achievement of the Freed Unit, headed by producer Arthur Freed.” WK-S The blockbuster was nominated for and won a then-recording-breaking nine Academy Awards. It was selected to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry and made the American Film Institute’s list of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions. WK-S

“The story concerns Gigi, a free-spirited teenaged girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She is being groomed as a courtesan in her family's tradition. Before she is deemed ready for her social debut, she encounters the bon vivant bachelor Gaston Lachaille, whom she captivates as she is transformed into a charmingly poised young lady.” WK-C

The film “reminds us why modern Hollywood can at times be dismissed with the wave of a hand. This is a grand musical, with seeds sown for much of the movie music that would follow, with even hints of what John Williams would steal for Star Wars. Frederick Loewe’s music is playful and engaging, but the highlight simply has to be Maurice Chevalier. His turns at Thank Heaven for Little Girls, It’s a Bore (with Louis Jourdan), and the hilarious I Remember It Well are timeless classics. The entire album has successfully incorporated a wonderful Parisian feel that lounge artists like Esquivel would go on to emulate.” SW

In 1973, Gigi was made into a stage musical. “The original Broadway production, produced by Edwin Lester in 1973, ran for a disappointing 103 performances but won the Tony Award for Best Score. A West End production played in 1985. A new production of the musical, adapted by Heidi Thomas and directed by Eric D. Schaeffer, premiered at the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) in January 2015, and ran on Broadway[1] from April 8 to June 21, 2015 at the Neil Simon Theatre.” WK-C


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