Happy Birthday Alan J. Lerner

You know Alan Lerner -- of course you do. You must have heard of Lerner and Lowe. Brigadoon, Camelot, My Fair Lady, Paint your Wagon, Gigi? They did some other musicals, and later adapted them to the movies, but these are their best.

Born August 31, 1918, Alan Lerner is member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received an Academy Award for Gigi, both the score and the title song. Can anyone forget hearing Maurice Chevalier croon "Thank heaven for little girls, for little girls get bigger every day, Thank heaven for little girls, they grow up in the most delightful way!" Lerner also received an Academy Award for writing the screenplay of An American in Paris, though George Gershwin composed the music.

One of the first live plays I ever saw was My Fair Lady, and I loved it. In fact, I convinced my mother, who had taken my brother and me to Nebraska with her while she worked on her MA, that I needed to see My Fair Lady -- every single night. I think it ran two weeks, and I never tired of Eliza Doolittle or Professor 'Iggins. From "Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" and "All I want is a room somewhere, Far away from the cold night air. With one enormous chair, Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?" through the rain in Spain staying mainly in the plain, (finally) and "I could have danced all night," we arrive at the finale "I've grown accustomed to her face. She almost makes the day begin. I've grown accustomed to the tune that She whistles night and noon. Her smiles, her frowns, Her ups, her downs Are second nature to me now; Like breathing out and breathing in." When I later read Pygmalion I understood, even approved of, the ending. But I secretly rejoiced that I had already experienced it differently.

So today I take a little time to salute a special kind of writer, one who could write "Hand me down that can o' beans Hand me down that can o' beans Hand me down that can o' beans I'm throwing it away," then give us "The mist of May is in the gloamin', and all the clouds are holdin' still. So take my hand and let's go roamin' through the heather on the hill." and finally this 1965 Grammy winner.

"On a clear day
Rise and look around you
And you'll see who you are.
On a clear day
How it will astound you
That the glow of your being outshines ev'ry star.

You'll feel part of ev'ry mountain sea and shore.
You can hear, from far and near,
A world you've never heard before.
And on a clear day...
On that clear day...
You can see forever and ever more!"

Thanks to you, Alan J. Lerner

Read Well, Friend

(Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw.)


Cara Powers said...

I've always wanted the library in My Fair Lady. I've also performed the songs you cited. Happy birthday, Mr. Lerner.


Teri K said...

My senior year in HS we did something our school had never done before. We put on a musical with orchestra as a dinner theater. We did Brigadoon, a movie I had loved watching on late night TV, even with our lousy reception. I played the oboe, and it was a great night.
(My school had just over 200 students.)

The Mathster said...

What a memory! To see my Fair Lady over and over again as a child. You must have/have had a wonderful and unique mother. I enjoyed singing along with your lyrics! Thanks for such an upbeat post.

Teri K said...

Yes, my Mom loved musicals, and we hardly ever got to see them, so she indulged both of us, really. We also saw the Music Man several times, and Our Hearts were Young and Gay over and over. We used to listen to records of all the great musicals while we washed windows, (and we had a LOT of triple paned windows).
Also, when Mary Poppins came to our small town they showed it all week and my best friend and I loved it. So for the entire week we spent the night at each others homes, going to see the movie every night. What a magical treat those times were! Thanks for sharing the memory with me.

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