Friday, April 15, 2016

George Frazier’s liner notes

From the liner notes for the 10" LP Lee Wiley Sings Rodgers and Hart (Storyville, 1954):

[I]f I have any objection to this portfolio, it is that it will doubtless assail me with bittersweet memories — with the stabbing remembrance of the tall, breathtaking-lovely Wellesley girl with whom I was so desperately in love in the long-departed November when the band at the Copley Plaza in Boston used to play “My Heart Stood Still” as couples tea-danced after football games on crisp Saturday afternoons, with reawakened desire for the succession of exquisite girls with whom I spent many a crepuscular hour listening to cocktail pianists give muted voice to “Funny Valentine,” of the first time I saw Connecticut Yankee , of — Yes, of the first years of my marriage and listening to Lee Wiley records with my wife late at night.
It’s like something from the Salinger world, isn’t it?

George Frazier was an American journalist. He wrote the words to “Harvard Blues,” recorded by Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie Orchestra. It begins:
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all
    the time
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all
    the time
Get three Cs, a D, and think checks from
    home sublime.
The song’s mysterious Rinehart plays a part in Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man. Bliss P. Rinehart is a shapeshifter, a series of masks (rind and heart , as the novel’s narrator thinks), and The Man Who Wasn’t There. (He never appears in the novel). More background here.

And here’s Lee Wiley singing Rodgers and Hart’s “You Took Advantage of Me.”

[The LP has been reissued with the title Duologue (Black Lion, 1988), with four unrelated recordings by Ellis Larkins. With Wiley: Ruby Braff, cornet; Jimmy Jones, piano; Bill Pemberton, bass; Jo Jones, drums. Lee Wiley was one of my dad’s favorite singers. The CD I’m listening to was his. Ellison’s use of the name Rinehart is also a shout-out to fellow Oklahoman Rushing, who at one point worked for Ellison’s father. Ellison wrote about Rushing in the 1958 essay “Remembering Jimmy.”]

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