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Daily Mail. Share this Twitter Facebook GooglePlus. Album information With a Song in My Heart reflects a period of maturation and reflection. The delivery was charming, the vocals outstanding. She prefers Jerry, the likeable country farmer next door:. No New York producer evinced a shred of interest in staging Manners' love-letter in three acts to his sweetheart, so they wound up opening it about as far off-Broadway as you can get, at the Burbank Theatre in Los Angeles.
Peg O' My Heart was a phenomenon, and ran and ran: It was the most successful play anyone had ever produced in California, and it seemed to render the imprimatur of the Great White Way entirely unnecessary. As replacement for a suddenly deceased pet, Laurette had gone to the local pound and been taken by an unwanted dog due to be put down the next day.
The new household addition was pressed into service and played the role of Peg's beloved Irish terrier Michael on stage every night. He was a bit of a ham when it came to his nightly curtain call. As Miss Taylor's daughter, Marguerite Courtney, wrote:.
Entering downstage left, he made a circuit of the stage at a brisk canter, exiting through the garden door upstage right. Invariably as he came flush with the footlights he rolled a laughing, roguish eye in the direction of the audience which won him a crescendo of applause.
She never missed a show, and nor did he. It was not a great play but it was a perfect vehicle. Manners took all the traits and quirks he loved about his Irish girl, and created a character that deployed them so effectively the world loved them, too. Everyone's doing' it - Peg and her charming little slouchy gait, and her dear little slovenly accent.
What has become of the svelte figure that used to trip down Broadway? And in its place patters down-street a quaint little shape, slouching along with daintily drooping shoulders and softly shuffling slippers. That's all very well. But what if you get invited to a fancy party? Don't make the mistake of letting the other girls out-Peg you:.
Do you sit up nice and straight, and speak in a clear, ringing tone? Not by a long ways. You droop and wilt like a top-heavy lily, and talk in a soft little monotone with a thick tongue And do you slick back your hair and roach it up neatly? No, sir, you scramble it You wear a floppy hat so low that it looks like the cover to a dish. The more dejected and left-out-all-night you can make your hat look nowadays, the more fashionable you are.
Women wanted to be Peg. Men wanted to shove Sir Gerald aside and marry Peg. And men and women alike wanted their dogs to be called Michael. Among those who went to see the play on Broadway was a Tin Pan Alleyman called Fred Fisher, whose very name has the plainspoken down-to-earth American solidity so lacking in an effete handle like J Hartley Manners. In fact, until a year or two earlier he had been Fred Fischer, and before that he was Alfred Breitenbach, born in Cologne in At the age of 13, Fred ran away to sea, and served with the Kaiser's navy, doing a stint on an experimental U-boat.
He then passed through the French Foreign Legion before washing up in America on a cattle ship in He worked his way inland to Chicago, where he took music lessons from a black pianist who made his living playing in the windy city's saloons. Fred learned syncopation at a time when few other Europeans knew what it was and it gave him a head start in the music biz. Fischer as he still was started composing in and the following year founded his own publishing house in expectation of massive hits.
He sold three million copies. My old sheet music bills it as "A Combination of Classical Music and Comical Words", which is a stretch on both counts. For the rest of his life, Fred Fisher retained enough of a Teutonic accent that, as his daughter Doris told me, he pronounced "love" to rhyme not with "stars above" and "turtle dove" but "enough". Yet he certainly understood his market.ilrirepa.tk
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And he wrote both words and music for a helluva place song to the first place in America he'd gotten to know: Chicago. Oddly no writer had managed to come up with a serenade to the windy city that stuck. But in Fisher sealed the deal: "Chicago" captures the spirit of that toddlin' town in the Jazz Age, and yet has outlasted its age by almost 90 years.
It's a great explosive musical jolt with a lyric written in pure American. The lyrics for some of his biggest hits came from another foreigner: Alfred Bryan, born in in Brantford, Ontario. But on his game he was very effective. It was not only the first major air show to be held in the United States but one of the biggest events that had ever taken place in the American West.
Over a quarter-million people turned out in what was then a very lightly populated part of the country. To a couple of savvy Tin Pan Alleymen, there appeared to be no limit to the appeal of "flying machines". Clearly, this was no passing fad. All it needed was a popular song to match. Two years later they were still looking for a follow-up. The composer was so taken by the spunky little colleen that the muse descended - as did the thought that the Peg phenomenon had every conceivable merchandising tie-in except a hit song.
So he sat down and wrote a beguiling tune to which Al Bryan fixed a suitably shamrock-hued lyric. The directness is hard to resist:. It's as melodically simple as you could devise: The stepwise ascent on the title phrase, and the descent on "I love you"; cranking it up a tone on "We'll never part" a tone and a half on "part" to underline the great aching unbearableness of the very idea , and then once more that warm, reassuring descent on "I love you" Dear little girl Sweet little girl Sweeter than the rose of Erin Are your winnin' smiles endearin ' Speaking as an Oirishman meself, I'm not sure that couplet quite rhymes even in fully fluent blarney.
I've heard it sung with an alternate that, sure and begorrah, rhymes just ever so slightly more plausibly:. I assume Bryan intended "glances" and "entrance us" to rhyme in Irish, but "own" and "home" doesn't even meet that highly elastic standard.
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Nevertheless, by now the producers of Peg O' My Heart had announced a competition to write a song inspired by the heartwarming tale. Whatever the charms of their rivals, Fisher and Bryan's smiles endearin' and Irish art entrancin' waltzed off with the winner's trophy and a check for one thousand dollars, which was not to be sneezed at in On the sheet music they dedicated it to Miss Taylor and her "wonderful character", and then they licensed it to Flo Ziegfeld for that year's Ziegfeld Follies , where it was introduced by Jose Collins. Charles Harrison, one of those R-rolling tenors of the day, made a record of "Peg O' My Heart" - actually, he sang it as "Peg Of My Hearrrrrt" and made no effort to rhyme "Erin" and "endearin'", although he did at least drop the "g".
It did well enough but it was basically two short choruses punctuated by two long introductory verses that I've always found a dreary trudge compared to that endearin' refrain. So the song wasn't quite as big as one might have expected from a surefire cash-in on a blockbuster phenomenon. The following year, the European empires went to war, and Al Bryan had a far bigger hit than "Peg" with an isolationist America's big pacifist anthem:. We were deep in conversation about Caesar's low opinion of rock "protest" writers, and there was something faintly surreal about listening to a nonagenarian arguing that the anti-Great War peacenik hippies were way better than those Vietnam deadbeats.
They'd arrived in England for the West End run of Peg a few weeks before war was declared. The play ran a year-and-a-half and was a big favorite of British Tommies on leave from the front. Back in France, hundreds of them sent letters care of the theatre to Peg, as if she were their own sweetheart.
In later life, Laurette would burn almost all her papers - but she kept all those "Dear Peg" letters, addressed to a girl who didn't exist from soldiers far away in a too real living hell, until the day she died. J Hartley Manners kept trying to write a second Peg for his wife, but that kind of blazing-across-the-heavens lightning doesn't strike twice. He went home and wrote in three days a comedy of manners that was also a thinly disguised comedy of Mr and Mrs Manners. In , a week before Christmas, Hartley Manners died of esophageal cancer - and a devastated Laurette went on the world's almightiest bender, for ten years - or, as she described it, "the longest wake in history".
By the time she came out of it, she was bankrupt and either forgotten or assumed by those who dimly recalled her name to be long dead.
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