Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A record hokier than Fred Waring's "Trees"

Is there one? Probably, but my brain doesn't want to go there. As if Alfred Joyce Kilmer's poem weren't maudlin enough, Fred and his arrangers (Roy Ringwald and Hawley Ades, in this case) decided to turn the camp meter up to 11 for this 1947 recording--and I think I know why. If my guess is correct, this is the very Trees recording that Waring provided for the 1948 Disney cartoon short, Melody Time. That would explain the over-the-topness (even by Waring choral standards) of the presentation, as well as the compressed, flat sound that isn't at all typical of Decca in the late 1940s. First-rate musicianship combined with first-rank camp--Trees, from 1947. Trees (Rasbach-Kilmer), Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, soloist: Gordon Goodman, 1947.

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (above), who wrote Trees in 1913. Kilmer was killed in France during WWI.

When something's too campy for me, you know it's time to worry. But Waring's Decca sides weren't quite so far out, as a rule. And his earlier attempts at a glee club/choral sound were much more restrained. Here are two of them, starting with 1928's Who's Blue Now? a side graced by a remarkable vocal arrangement and brief but fine moments of Waring-style jazz: Who's Blue Now? (Caesar-Meyer), Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1928.

Three years later, Waring's choral-sound-to-be nearly was. Here is 1931's Dancing in the Dark, featuring the Three Waring Girls and various band members: Dancing in the Dark (Dietz-Schwartz), Waring's Pennsyvlanians, featuring the Three Waring Girls, 1928.

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Blogger HP said...

My Fred Waring story: The year is 1979. The corpse of disco continues to hustle the airwaves; Talking Heads are still in art school; and I'm a 15-year-old high school sophomore. During some free time in class, one of the popular kids picks up this book he's reading. "Wow. Here's a trivia question for you: Who invented the Waring blender?"

Without thinking, without even knowing where the answer came from, I blurted out, "Fred Waring, of Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians."

Who knew?

1.) Apparently Fred had some mechanical aptitude and a tremendous appetite for Brandy Alexanders.

2.) If I'd only said George Cates, I might not've graduated high school a virgin.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Frankly, I find that a little hard to believe. No offense, but one of the popular kids READING A BOOK? That detail is a bit hard to swallow.

(Smile icon)

Thanks for all of your interesting comments!


9:56 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

And the second part of 1.) might explain Fred's personality as described by George Simon in "The Big Bands."


9:59 PM  

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