The Fun And The Funny
In America Popular Song
If it’s true that “music hath charms to soothe the savage breast” and “laughter is the best medicine,” then funny songs have to be as indispensable to our world as the most miraculous healer or idealistic politician. Probably more so.
In American Popular Song we have the great lyricists and comedic interpreters to thank for some of the most life-enhancing stimulants available to humankind: Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Dorothy Fields, Howard Dietz, Mack Gordon, Johnny Mercer, Gus Kahn, Leo Robin, Yip Harburg, Noel Coward (dropping in from the UK), Irving Berlin, Cole Porter writing the words; Bert Lahr, Ethel Merman, Gertrude Lawrence, Jimmy Durante, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Carmen Miranda, Carol Channing, Danny Kaye, Beatrice Lillie among many funny folks bringing those words to exuberant life.
“If you ever lose your teeth when you’re out to dine, borrow mine! It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship!” “If she’s getting a kind of a name for herself and the name ain’t his, a ‘poyssen’ can develop a cough!” “Dinka Dee A Dinka Doo!” “When her muscles start relaxin’, up the hill comes Andrew Jackson!” “Stiff back or stiff knees, you stand straight at Tiff’ny’s!” “When love congeals, it soon reveals the faint aroma of performing seals, the double crossing of a pair of heels…”
For those who may not recall these humorists of yore, it’s high time to learn about a golden past when well-paid composers, lyricists and entertainers gave as good as they got, delivering levity to an often woeful world.
They tinkered with the language, they sang, they made us smile, they made us laugh. “Just let a smile be your umbrella…” “There are smiles that make us happy…” “Be a clown, be a clown!” “Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh!”
Smiles, laughter, humor, wit. What a gift…actually, a million of ’em!
If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.
Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.
Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.
In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.
In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.