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'Happy with the Blues'

Posted by Richard 
'Happy with the Blues'
January 14, 2005 09:39AM
I have a question. Peggy wrote several songs which are unfamiliar to me. Are there recordings of those songs? For example, she wrote with Harold Arlen "Happy with the Blues". I think it's a fine song and one of the best on her Arlen CD. Did she perform that song only on the television show back in the early sixties? Maybe Ivan can help out here.

I'm also curious after her song "That Man". She wrote it with Bill Schluger and I don't know that song, but since one of my favourite Lee songs is "I Love Being Here with You", I expect much of it. Some of the material with Dave Barbour is great and "I Love Being Here with You" is a standard in my opinion. Love to hear some of you about Peggy's own songs.

Greetings,

Richard, Holland
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 16, 2005 11:22AM
Hi Richard.

I like many of Peggy's own songs, but to name four great ballads in particular... "There'll Be Another Spring", "Goodbye My Love", "The Shining Sea" and "Then Was Then And Now Is Now". Peggy must have written more songs than any other singer of her era. What a great talent!

Best wishes,
Bob, UK.
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 17, 2005 06:27PM
Richard, I don't know of any other performances of "Happy with the Blues." She could have sung it in concert, but if she did, I haven't come across any mentions...

In 1963, she was actually scheduled to perform a self-written special titled "The Jazz Tree," to take place at Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center. I don't know if that special actually happened -- she was ill around that time -- but I can imagine her squeezing "Happy with the Blues" there. Who knows.

In the late 1980's, at the Ballroom (again in New York), she did "The Blues Branch of the Jazz Tree," which would have been an even likelier opportunity to sing "Happy with the Blues." And maybe she did sing it then, since this was also the time when she was recording the Arlen songbook (as well as the "Sings the Blues" album, which apparently is an offspring of those Ballroom shows).

As for the 1960's TV show, "Happy with the Blues" is heard at the beginning and ending of a medley of Arlen numbers, sung by the entire cast, including Peggy. Or so I think -- my recollection is vague. She rewrote the lyrics for the Arlen CD.

Richard, I don't know if you know: Bill Schluger is actually a pseudonym for Dave Cavanaugh, Peggy's producer.

I'm not much of a fan of "That Man," but that's just me -- I know of another fan who enjoys it quite a bit. It's very silly, but if you ever saw the TV series Batman, you may get a kick out of it.

"That Man," in case you haven't figured it out, is no other than Batman himself. The gist of the song is that Peggy has the hots for him, and is some sort of a "stalkerette," hiding in the trunk of his Batmobile, awaiting for him. So, through the song she sings his praises (though no line in particular suggests that Batman is the male in question). She uses an intentionally silly-fun voice, and also utters some of the trademark exclamations that the TV series borrowed from the comic book (POW! BANG!)... In other words, a novelty record, enjoyable particularly if you know beforehand what the lyrics are about.

It is curious to note that Peggy sang songs related to both the "Bewitched" and "Batman" series (plus one from a Broadway show with "Superman" in its title). I don't know if the Batman number was commissioned for the series -- if it was, apparently the powers-that-be didn't use it. The song has made it to digital; it's on the Varese Sarabande CD "Batmania: Songs Inspired by the 'Batman' TV Series."

Ivan
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 17, 2005 06:45PM
Some of the songs by Peggy that I particularly enjoy (of course I enjoy them all, except for "Ma?ana," which I have heard too many times and can now barely stand), for one reason or another, in no particular order:

There'll Be Another Spring (Peggy Lee / Hubie Wheeler)
Then Was Then (And Now Is Now) (Peggy Lee / Cy Coleman)
Just an Old Love of Mine (Peggy Lee / Dave Barbour)
Don't Be So Mean to Baby (Peggy Lee / Dave Barbour)
That's My Style (Peggy Lee / Cy Coleman)
Because I Love Him So (Peggy Lee / Milton Raskin)
Lean on Me (Peggy Lee / Mundell Lowe / Mike Melvoin)
Dreams of Summer (Peggy Lee / Utakaka Kokakura)
Easy Does It (Peggy Lee / Richard Hazard)
Boston Beans (Peggy Lee / Milton Raskin / Bill Schluger)
Los Angeles Forevermore (Peggy Lee / Richard Hazard)
El Toro (Peggy Lee / Laurindo Almeida)
A Straw Hat Full of Lilacs (Peggy Lee / Willard Robison)
Sugar, Don't You Know? (Peggy Lee / Louis Bellson / Jack Hayes)

To come up with all of those, I checked the list of Peggy songs on this website. If you, gals and guys, feel like checking it out, just click on "Compositions," in the menu located at the left site of this page.

Ivan
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 18, 2005 09:26AM
I am really surprised that no-one has mentioned my favourite Peggy compostition - Where Can I Go Without You - which she wrtoe with Victor Young. It is a beautiful ballad which was also recorded by Nat King Cole.

I also love Angels On Your Pillow - touching and sad but also optimistic.
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 18, 2005 11:38AM
Hello Ivan,

Many thanks for your information. I didn't know about Peggy's "That Man" being inspired by Batman. I hope to hear it soon. I did know about Dave Cavanaugh being Bill/Bob Schluger. It's always wonderful to read your comments. You know so much about Peggy and I'm always in for information.

greetings
Richard
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 19, 2005 10:23AM
I have checked Ivan's discography and find that Peggy recorded "Where Can I Go Without You" on 3 different dates.

These were - 13 February 1953 (track time 3'17), 7 February 1963 (2'45) and on 1 November 1989 (4'48). I have all these variations and must sit down and compare them.

However, it is strange that "Angels On Your Pillow" was never recorded for an album. Traditionally, Peggy Lee finished her concerts and other shows with the song, and I have it on the BBC TV show "Peggy Lee Entertains" (1981). I wonder why this song was ignored.

I believe Nicki has said previously that her mother sang her to sleep with the song - lucky Nicki!

I have the song on a CD and sung by Michael Feinstein - but, yes I know, it's not really the same, is it?

Bob Wallace.
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 19, 2005 05:00PM
No, it is not the same, Bob. ;-) But good to have a recorded version.

The song is from the Broadway musical "Peg." Since she didn't officially record any of the other songs from the musical (although at one point she was planning to)...

She did sing it, though, on a British TV show.

As for the lovely phrase itself, "angels on your pillow," we can also hear Peggy sing it as part of another self-penned song, "Here's to You."

A second song from "Peg" that has been recorded by other vocalists: "He'll Make Me Believe He's Mine."

I prefer the original, Decca version of "Where Can I Go without You," but I find that many other fans like the version from "Mink Jazz" better. The song seems to have a short verse, by the way; I think that I've heard Mel Torm? sing it.

Ivan

P.S. Richard, you are very welcome, and I'm glad when I can be of help. Thank YOU for coming up with an interesting topic.
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
January 22, 2005 03:19AM
Ivan, I surfed on the internet and on cdnow.com and I had the chance of listening for 30 seconds to "That Man"... I already know that I love the song. It's funny and I always like Peggy Lee singing these silly, funny songs... especially the "wheeee..." somewhere in the middle of the song. It's always great to hear something Peggy did for the first time. I also enjoyed "I Didn't Find Love" on the "Mink Jazz" CD very much. Peggy had a marvelous sense of humor.

greetings
Richard
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 14, 2007 07:23AM
Recently while in NYC at the Museum of TV and Broadcasting I saw the Johnny Carson Tonight Show (1978) on which Peggy sang her own composition Los Angeles Forevermore; such a pleasure because I had never heard the song before.

She also sang Send in the Clowns and Goin' to Chicago Blues. Watching her do Chicago it seemed clear that her aside at the end was "I was goin' to Chicago but I er um..." - something that was discussed here recently.

All Peggy's appearances available at the Museum were from good quality tapes and I was struck by the number of times she appeared with Carson: they appeared to have great rapport when chatting.
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 14, 2007 08:25AM
Tony,

I put "Send In The Clowns" up on YouTube yesterday - not the greatest quality but watchable.

G
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 15, 2007 02:49AM
Thanks, George, I will check it out - I have a lot to catch up on now. What a lovely chore!

Tony.
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 16, 2007 05:09PM
It's great to be able to watch "Send in the Clowns" on YouTube, thanks to George.

Tony, I too was impressed by "Los Angeles Forevermore." It's bona fine Peggy Lee. Short and simple, yet so captivating.

I don't have as strong a recollection of "Goin' to Chicago Blues" but I think it is a good rendition, too, no? I mean, it can't compare to the recording from the 1960's but, if it is the version that I'm remembering, it is fine. With Doc Severinsen taking a solo, no?

Ivan
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 17, 2007 03:46AM
"Send in the Clowns" is one of my favourite videos on YouTube by now. It's really a moving performance. Peggy doesn't look to well, but her fragile appearance adds only to this performance and I think she sounds fabulous. I just love Peggy Lee singing these material during this part of her career. One big favourite next to "My Father", "The Wind Beneath My Wings".

Richard
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 18, 2007 03:58AM
George, I had a look at Send in the Clowns and like Richard, found it very moving. However I was puzzled by Peggy's one word change in the lyrics. Sondheim wrote -

Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around
One who can't move.

Peggy sings -
One who keeps turning around.

Was it a genuine mistake at the time of the performance or did she deliberately change it? My guess is it might have been a mistake because with Peggy's own skills as a lyricist I would have thought she would have recognized that Stephen's original choice of word was better.

It dosn't detract of course from the delicate performance, but still.

Any opinions?
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 31, 2007 11:03AM
Tony,

I honestly don't know but PL was a lady who DID change lyrics - the final line of Is That All There Is being the classic example.

Anyway glad you like it.

George
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
May 31, 2007 10:59PM
I don't know either. In fact, I hadn't even noticed this change...

Most of the changes that Peggy Lee made were apparently due to personal issues that she had with the lyrics. Some of them were deemed too dark, at times in her life when she wanted to sing positive messages. Others were not in keeping with her feminine persona.

I believe that she made a point of asking for permission from the lyricists, before making any significant changes. She did ask in the case of "Love Story." Leiber & Stoller were present, as producers, when she recorded "Is That All There Is"...

Perhaps the expression "tearing around" brought connotations that were unpleasant or problematic to her way of thinking. Or perhaps it is indeed a mistake, as Tony says.

Iván
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
June 01, 2007 08:54PM
Well, yes, Leiber & Stoller produced "Is That All There Is?," but the only reason they recorded that line of lyric as Peggy sang it is because she absolutely refused to sing it as Jerry Leiber wrote it. It was a classic case of the irresistible force vs. the immovable object; I believe Jerry only relented because he feared for his life.
Iv
Re: 'Happy with the Blues'
June 02, 2007 05:51PM
Ha. I more or less figured this out (from previous comments by Leiber). Hence my wording.

Poor Jerry! :-))
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