How about you? I’m playing a solo gig tomorrow afternoon at the usual place. It’s a retirement community about a half hour’s drive away.
For reference you can look back at the posts ” While Me and My Guitar Gently Weep” or ” Enter Title Here.” Both articles chronicle my musical adventures at the facility.
I’m in the process of assembling the set list and while I’m borrowing heavily from previous gigs I always like to add new songs to keep things fresh and to challenge myself to learn a new song or two on a regular basis.
This week’s new songs are from the Gershwins, ” Somebody Loves Me,” ” Someone to Watch Over Me” and ” (Our) Love is Here to Stay.”
It’s my contention that every song has a story: who wrote it, where you were when you initially heard it, who you were with, who introduced it to you and so on. I always mention the year it was written and give credit the writer when I perform a song.
” Love is Here to Stay” was the last song written by George and Ira Gershwin before George’s untimely passing in 1937 at the age of 38.
From what I can gather the song sat unfinished on George’s piano. It was finally completed by Ira and a friend named Vernon Duke, a Russian immigrant, who’s real name was Vladimir Dukelsky.
Vernon Duke also wrote ” April in Paris,” “I Can’t Get Started,” ” Autumn in New York” and ” Takin’ a Chance on Love.” Not too shabby.
I could swear that I have seen sheet music for ” Our Love” and it credits Ira, George and Vernon Duke. I think I have read this somewhere and even if it’s not entirely true it makes for a wonderful story.
The song sits unfinished. Vernon and Ira manage to complete the tune but as you can imagine Ira was devastated by the loss of George. Now, here is where it gets interesting.
Most versions of ” Love is Here to Stay” start with the line ” It’s very clear our love is here to stay..” and you would assume that the song is about a man and a woman who are in a relationship that is strong, stable and going a long, long way.
But the often neglected opening lines paint a different picture. I have no idea when these words were written but in reading them it seems to me that Ira finished the song with these lines after George died. They are as follows:
” The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend The world and all it’s capers and how it all will end Nothing seems to be lasting, but that isn’t our affair… We’ve got something permanent, I mean in the way we care..”
He then writes about how the Rockies will crumble, Gibraltar will tumble…
In that sense it seems to me that Ira was pouring out his grief mourning George. “Love is Here to Stay” is about his love for his late brother although if you didn’t know the background story you might and honestly think otherwise. The song works that way too but knowing what I think I know makes the song all that more meaningful to me.
I chose this version by Rosemary Clooney precisely because it does include the routinely missed opening lines. Now this is a true story.
Rosemary Clooney lived in the Gershwin house after Ira moved away. The house was in Beverly Hills. That house had a ton of musical memories having been the place where George and Ira composed some of the greatest songs ever written. Rosemary was, well, Rosemary Clooney.
Several years ago I was in Beverly Hills and planned to visit the Gershwin/Clooney house at 1019 North Roxbury Drive. As it happened the house had just been demolished by the current owner so he could build a bigger house on the property. Gone.
The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies and in time may go…So the house is gone, Rosemary, George and Ira are gone but that song is surely here to stay. That much is very clear.