Heart and Soul
Frank Loesser, "Heart and Soul"
Frank Loesser, born yesterday in 1910, is perhaps best known for his Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. He began writing songs in the 1930s. Marlene Dietrich sang some of his songs! When World War II broke out, Loesser joined the Army Air Force, but he kept writing songs and lyrics. In 1943, he met fellow soldier Alex North, who was a composer. The two collaborated on the musical Hi Yank!, which, in 1944, was performed to boost the morale of soldiers fighting in areas USO shows could not visit. After the war, Loesser went on to enjoy his successful career, winning numerous awards, including an Academy Award for "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
The song I chose for today, "Heart and Soul," is testament to how popular and well-known Loesser's music is. I would venture to guess that it would be hard to find someone who doesn't know at least the melody to "Heart and Soul." The reason being that everyone plays it on the piano as a duet. Most people playing this don't know the title of the song or who wrote it, but even people who can't play the piano play this. If you doubt me, give the song a listen—you will probably find that you have picked it out on the piano, with friends.
Here is a link to a 1939 film of the illimitable Bea Wain singing "Heart and Soul," with Larry Clinton and his orchestra, with whom she collaborated for decades:
In the song, the lucky man Wain has fallen for steals a kiss in moonlight. She sings:
Oh! but your lips were thrilling, much too thrilling,
Never before were mine so strangely willing.
The glamorous Bea Wain, born in 1917, is still alive—99 years old! Here is a link to her album Reverie. The album cover features a beautiful photograph of Bea Wain. Reverie is a collection of her original recordings remastered, and it includes "Heart and Soul":
I will write in tribute to American art song in the run-up to Independence Day, July 4th. I began yesterday, with Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow." I continue today with Loesser's "Heart and Soul," and will follow with songs of Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, and Stephen Foster.
I created "Things Not Unworthy," the image above, in 2006. It is based on Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from H. D.'s poem "Prayer" (published in 1921, and reproduced here only in part):
Give back the glamour to our will,
the thought; give back the tool,
the chisel; once we wrought
things not unworthy,
sandal and steel-clasp;
silver and steel, the coat
with white leaf-pattern
at the arm and throat:
silver and metal, hammered for the ridge
of shield and helmet-rim;
white silver with the darker hammered in,
belt, staff and magic spear-shaft
with the gilt spark at the point and hilt.