Three Little Words
What Do You Say In 32 Bars?
The Emerald City Jazz Kings 15th Season
Oct, 2010-May, 2011 - Eugene, Florence & Corvallis
Steve Stone, Music Director
Shirley Andress, Guest Artistic Director
The title of our 2010-11 Series is also the title of a 1930 song by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, and was later the title of a 1950 film biography about that songwriting team starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. The last line of the song explains its meaning: “Three little words, eight little letters that simply mean ‘I Love You.’”
Kalmar and Ruby were expanding upon a Songbook Era belief that if a song is to become a hit, it must be an ingenious formulation of a basic premise—“How to say ‘I love you’ in 32 bars.” Most songs of the era were, indeed, 32 bars in length, and a great preponderance (some historians suggest as much as 80%!) of them were “love” songs. There were, thank goodness, many exceptions to these rules, particularly by great lyricists such as Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields, Yip Harburg, and Johnny Mercer among many others who not only devised extremely ingenious ways to say--or avoid actually saying--"I love you" but also found other very interesting subjects to talk about in those 32 bars.
We have become fascinated with the motifs, metaphors and tropes that these lyricists most often drew out of their toolkit to talk about love in new and different ways, with the many ways they found to not really say I love you when they were saying it, and with the other non-love themes they most regularly turned to. So this year we offer 4 different concerts (each with a three-little-word description!) that celebrate 4 ways the greatest Songbook lyricist went beyond--or put a special spin on--that well-worn formula.