Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Exploring Bob Dylan's Great American Songbook Arrangement Sources - Part 3



If you haven't already, don't forget to check out Part 1 of this series, which features the arrangement sources for Shadows in the Night plus an introduction explaining what this is all about, and Part 2 for the Fallen Angels arrangement sources. Part 4 coming soon!

As noted in Part 1, Olof Bjorner's notes on the Triplicate songs were extremely useful in writing this section. 



Triplicate, Disc 1 - 'Til the Sun Goes Down


I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan

Written by: Arthur Schwartz (music) and Howard Dietz (lyrics), 1929

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1956

This song has an interesting history: it started life as a tune called 'I Like to Lay Awake in Bed', composed by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Lorenz Hart (who would go on to write the words to songs like ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ with Richard Rodgers) while they were both counsellors at a summer camp in 1920. Ten years later, Schwartz and Howard Dietz had just completed work on the score for the Broadway musical The Little Show, when leading man Clifton Webb told them he wanted another song. Schwartz resurrected the melody for ‘I Like to Lay Awake in Bed’, and Dietz wrote new words to transform it into ‘I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan’.

Bob has adapted the arrangement recorded by Sinatra on the 1957 album A Swingin’ Affair.








September of My Years

Written by: Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics), 1965

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Gordon Jenkins, 1965

Cahn and Van Heusen wrote this track as the title song for Sinatra’s September of My Years album, which was released just three months before the singer’s 50th birthday in 1965. It’s a very personal song, and one that can't help but be filtered through the life experiences of the person singing it – whether that person is 49-year-old Frank Sinatra, or 76-year-old Bob Dylan. 

Surprisingly, SecondHandSongs reports that 'September of My Years' has only been recorded nine times, and mostly as an instrumental. Bob is only the third person to record it with the words - the second being the late German singer Roger Cicero in 2015 (Cicero, like Bob, sticks faithfully to the original Nelson Riddle arrangement). 








I Could Have Told You

Written by: Arthur Williams (music) and Carl Sigman (lyrics)

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1953

‘Arthur Williams’ is a pseudonym for none other than Jimmy Van Heusen, who, according to Discogs, also wrote under the aliases Ada Kurtz, Edward Chester Babcock, and Kirk Adams. While Sinatra recorded this song in December 1953 (at the same session he laid down 'Young at Heart') it didn't see the light of day until 1959, when it was featured on the singles compilation Look to Your Heart. Bob selected 'I Could Have Told You' as the lead-off single for Triplicate in January 2017 - he had already been performing it onstage since the previous summer.







Once Upon a Time

Written by: Charles Strouse (music) and Lee Adams (lyric)

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1965

Bob premiered his version of this song at Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday TV special in 2016. Outside of Ray Bolger and Eileen Herlie, who originally performed the song in the 1962 Broadway musical All American, Bennett was the first singer to record ‘Once Upon a Time’, which appeared on his classic album I Left My Heart in San Francisco in June of that year. Dylan, however, was performing the arrangement from Frank Sinatra’s September of My Years album, a version that would later be used in Spike Lee’s 1990 film Jungle Fever.







Stormy Weather


Written by: Harold Arlen (music) and Ted Koehler (lyrics)

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Gordon Jenkins, 1959

Olof Bjorner’s notes state that Frank recorded this song no less than five times between 1944 and 1984, but Bob has chosen what is arguably the definitive arrangement: Sinatra’s 1959 recording for the No One Cares album. 'Stormy Weather' is possibly the bleakest song on a collection or unflinchingly dark tunes – the intro, with a forlorn Frank almost singing against the music, is genuinely unsettling.







This Nearly Was Mine

Written by: Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein III (lyrics), 1949

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1963

Sinatra recorded 'This Nearly Was Mine' – which came from the 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific – for the Reprise album The Concert Sinatra in 1963. This was one of Sinatra’s most ambitious recording projects, placing him at the centre of a 76-piece orchestra and reuniting him with Nelson Riddle after five years apart.






That Old Feeling

Written by: Sammy Fain (music) and Lew Brown (lyrics), 1937

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1960

'That Old Feeling' was written for the film Walter Wagner’s Vogues of 1938, which, confusingly, came out in 1937. The song was duly nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost to Bing Crosby’s 'Sweet Leilani' from the film Waikiki Wedding. Sammy Fain went on to be nominated for the same award another eight times, winning in 1953 and 1955. Sinatra recorded the song twice, in 1947 and 1960, with Bob adapting the latter version. 







It Gets Lonely Early

Written by: Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics), 1965

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1965

Another Van Heusen/Cahn song, created especially for Sinatra’s September of My Years album. There is very little information available about this song, and Dylan appears to be only the second person to record it. The only other version of 'It Gets Lonely Early' I could locate is a 2020 recording by singer Elijah Nisenboim for his album Standards (which, incidentally, is almost entirely comprised of songs that also appear on Triplicate)







My One and Only Love

Written by: Guy Wood (music) and Robert Mellin (lyrics), 1952

Arrangement used by Bob written by: Nelson Riddle, 1953

Like 'I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan', 'My One and Only Love' began life as an entirely different song. When 'Music from Beyond the Moon', with music by Guy Wood and lyrics by Jack Lawrence, failed to catch on, Robert Mellin wrote a new set of lyrics and renamed the song 'My One and Only Love'. The first singer to record the new version of the tune was Frank Sinatra, who used it as the B-side to his Capitol single 'I’ve Got the World on a String' in 1953. Bob chose 'My One and Only Love' as the second single to be released from Triplicate in February 2017.







Trade Winds

Written by: Cliff Friend and Charles Tobias, 1940

Arrangement used by Bob performed by The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, 1940

Sinatra’s recording of 'Trade Winds' with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra was apparently only the second recording of the song, put to wax just one month after the original recording by Ray Herbeck. This is another very obscure song choice by Dylan: of the ten other versions of 'Trade Winds' listed on SecondHandSongs, eight of them are from 1940, and one from 1942. Pianist Bill Carruthers resurrected the song in 2013







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Exploring Bob Dylan's Great American Songbook Arrangement Sources - Part 3

If you haven't already, don't forget to check out Part 1 of this series , which features the arrangement sources for Shadows in the ...