Ignored, Maligned, and Forgotten Music

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You Pick the Winner! Irving Berlin vs. Irving Berlin

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Legbamel Not-Pop

Honestly, I didn’t realize for years that Steppin’ Out with My Baby and Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails were two different songs. I blame that on the fact that you almost never hear them and that the former includes, as a line in the lyrics, the title of the latter. Well, that and Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails includes recurrent references to “stepping out”.

I had presumed that, in the great jazz and swing standard tradition, one was simply alternate lyrics to the other. How wrong I was! To be fair, both songs were written by Irving Berlin (for Easter Parade in 1948 and Top Hat in 1936, respectively) and, well, they do have those similarities that I already mentioned.

In reality, I love both of these songs. They drag me back to my bizarre misspent days cruising the reaches of newly-invented cable television for musicals that made me yearn for the life of the carefree, filthy rich in the Teens and Roaring Twenties, when getting dressed to the nines and spending an evening in a swanky hotel dancing to a big band and making witty conversation was de rigueur for any night of the week, at least if you believe Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby.

Back then, white tie was a step above wearing a mere tuxedo, which the beaux that filled my imagination would have done nigh nightly. Even with a tail coat, black tie is simply standard evening dress. A white bow tie used to mean a formal event, one for which only most rigid dress code would do for the men while women swirled about in peacock dresses. I blame Hollywood for my despising modern-day tuxes: for me, nothing but tails will do. Steppin’ Out with My Baby and Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails had a lot to do with it.

I'm forlorn that Grooveshark and YouTube don't have the Louis Armstrong version of Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails that I do. Rhapsody has it but it wouldn't play for me. If you're on MOG apparently they have a version. I highly recommend it. If you know where I can hear it on-line for free, please do share. And while you're here, let me know which song you like better.

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