Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn, my favorite season, is soon here! Enjoy a musical preview!

Autumn in Central Park, Manhattan

Stories Behind the Hit Songs of Autumn By Mary Dawson

It has already started! The air is getting colder and crisper. Time for candlelight and popcorn -- falling leaves and soon, falling snow. It's "that time of year" once again. It's not quite Christmas, but the emotions are ramping up. We start thinking about family gatherings, parties, romantic evenings snuggled up by the fire with the ones we love. And under it all, is the magical music of the season.
In my never-to-be-humble opinion, some of the greatest songs ever written were inspired by the Season of Autumn. If you can't name at least a few songs about this season and the songwriters who created them, it's time to join us as we explore the stories behind the wonderful melodies and lyrics that mark this time of year.

The first song that comes to mind is the haunting, "Autumn in New York" written by Vernon Duke back in 1934. Never heard of him? Stay tuned.

You may be familiar with Billie Holiday's amazing rendition of this song, but then it has also been recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Diane Schuur, Ray Charles, Mantovani, George Shearing, Rosemary Clooney, Charlie Parker and dozens of other major artists. Year after year this song keeps reappearing with new arrangements and different artists, but definitely the same words and melody written by this guy, Vernon Duke. This song is what's known as a standard -- the goal of every songwriter. Now do you want to know a little more about Mr. Duke?

Vernon Duke was born Vladimir Alexandrovich Dukelsky in a train station in Prafianovo, Russia, on October 10, 1903 as his mother was traveling to another Russian town. Growing up in an aristocratic family, Vladimir showed amazing talent for music at a very early age. When he was eleven, he had already been admitted to the distinguished Kiev Conservatory to study under the famed composer, Reinhold Gilere.
After the Russian Revolution, the Dukelsky family made its way to the United States where Vladimir's classical compositions began receiving rave reviews. In America, Vladimir became friends with the famous George Gershwin, who encouraged him to begin writing popular music. Gershwin also suggested that he consider changing his name to something more "American" -- like Vernon Duke. From that point onward, the composer began his double life -- using the name, Vladimir Dukelsky, for his classical works and Vernon Duke for his pop songs.

In the 1920's Vernon/Vladimir moved to Paris where he wrote oratorios and music for ballet and symphony, becoming friends with Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev and artist, Pablo Picasso. When he would travel to Britain or the United States, like Superman, he would step into a phone booth and come out as Vernon Duke, writer of popular songs for theater and the Ziegfeld Follies. Collaborating with other great songwriters of the era, Duke wrote such classics as "April in Paris. Taking a Chance on Love," and "I Like the Likes of You."

With that as a backdrop, take some time to enjoy "Autumn in New York."


The following are UGO Entertainment's Top 11 autumn pop songs:

11. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by White Stripes
10. Grey Sky Eyes by Carbon Leaf
9. September by Earth, Wind, and Fire
8. Amanda Cecelia by Elliott Smith
7. Grand Theft Autumn by Fall Out Boy
6. Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel
5. Autumn Almanac by The Kinks
4. Autumn Acid by Aphex Twin
3. October by U2
2. Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
1. California Dreamin by The Mamas and the Papas

If you'd care to listen to any of the 11 songs, please click to the song on the playlist at bottom of page.


Anonymous said...

Is that Central Park Petra? What a beautiful photo and the divine Billie Holiday! K. :)

G-Man said...

Petra Michelle....?
Are you OK?
Come back Little Sheba....

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

It is Central Park, K.! Thank you for pointing that out! I'll make a note of it under the photo. Billie is absolutely divine, isn't she? :))

Hi G-Man! It has been nonstop since June! Will be coming around right now! :))