The House that George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty

Wilfrid Sheed, Author . Random $29.95 (335p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6105-1

S heed (Office Politics ), who won a 1987 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes (for Sinatra's The Voice ), spoke over the decades with many of these Great American Songbook creators and their families. In this book, he employs an informal, anecdotal approach as he looks back at the top tunesmiths of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood. Composer Arthur Schwartz recalled that he “dashed off the tune in 20 minutes” after lyricist Howard Dietz casually remarked, “What is life but dancing in the dark?” Beginning with Gershwin and Irving Berlin, Sheed quotes numerous lyrics throughout his lilting, witty profiles (of Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers and others), plus brief comments on 57 more. Since Hurricane Katrina, Louis Alter's “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” has served as a national anthem, so the curt dismissal of Alter (“more a swinging musician than a songwriter proper”) is curious amid the many choruses of praise. Sheed soars on the wings of song with scintillating, lyrical writing. (July 3)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 244 pages - 978-1-58836-722-8
Paperback - 335 pages - 978-0-8129-7018-0
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