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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Return Of Dr. Rothman, Tune Detective.

The song "Blue Moon" had a quite checkered career.
It ended up being a standard, and an enormous hit.
But not without a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.
It was written by Rodgers and Hart.
Rodgers was apparently totally in love with the melody.
But Hart kept churning out new lyrics for it to suit the occasion.
The occasion usually being that the old ones kept getting rejected, and cut out of the movies they were written for.
Rodgers was quite protective of Hart.
Apparently far more than Hart was protective of himself.
The song was first written for an MGM movie called "Hollywood Party", to be sung by Jean Harlow.
with lyric that began....
'Oh Lord, if you're not busy up there,
I ask for help with a prayer
So please don't give me the air . . ."
It was cut from the film. 
The song was not even recorded and MGM Song #225 "Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)" dated June 14, 1933, was registered for copyright as an unpublished work on July 10, 1933.
Undaunted, Lorenz Hart wrote new lyrics for the tune to create a title song for the 1934 film "Manhattan Melodrama"----
"Act One:
You gulp your coffee and run
Into the subway you crowd
Don’t breathe, it isn’t allowed".
The song, which was also titled "It's Just That Kind of Play", was cut from the film before release, and registered for copyright as an unpublished work on March 30, 1934. The studio then asked for a nightclub number for the film. Rodgers still liked the melody so Hart wrote a third lyric: "The Bad in Every Man":
"Oh, Lord . . .
I could be good to a lover
But then I always discover
The bad in ev’ry man"-----
It was sung by Shirley Ross
The song, which was also released as sheet music, was not a hit.
Some publicist suggested that more romantic lyrics would turn it into a hit, and Hart went back to the typewriter and came up with what we now know as "Blue Moon".

It began:

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love on my own
Blue moon
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for....

This is where the bumps and bruises really began.
In 1949, Mel Torme recorded "Blue Moon"
A pretty great recording.
But he took a very minor liberty with the lyrics.
He thought "prayer for" and "care for" was a false rhyme.
So he recorded it as:
You heard me saying a prayer....
For someone I really could care for.
He thought that this leant authenticity to it.
So do I.
Not so Richard Rodgers.
He sent off a nasty missive to Torme, berating him for tampering with Hart's perfection.
I told you he was quite protective of Hart.
And this was six years after Hart was dead.
I don't know if Hart would have given a shit.
But the message was clear: "Don't mess with my songs!!"

Cut to:  About eight years later.  A group of one-hit wonders named The Shepherd Sisters come out with an early Doo-Wop recording called "Alone, Why Must I Be Alone"
Big hit.
It was "Blue Moon" speeded up and Doo-Wopped up, sideways.
Just barely recognizable as "Blue Moon".
Four years after that, a legitimate Doo-Wop group, The Marcels, had a much bigger hit by verticalizing it, and, in the same style, did it as "Blue Moon"
They pulled absolutely no punches with it.
Theirs was the version that started with:
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang
Ba ba ding a dong ding Blue moon moon blue moon dip di dip di dip
Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang
Ba ba ding a dong ding......
I would love to have been a fly on the wall the day that Richard Rodgers heard this rendition for the first, and probably only time.

P.S.---I recently listened to a wonderful CD called "Two of a Kind", featuring duets by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer.
The songs were mostly ones that Mercer had written.
Among them was "If I Had My 'Druthers", which Mercer wrote, with Gene DePaul, for the Broadway Musical "Li'l Abner", in 1956.
It occurred to me that about five years later, America began hearing a tune that was essentially "If I Had My 'Druthers", slightly bouncier and a little jazzier, on a weekly basis.
It was the theme of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Written by someone other than Mercer and DePaul.
I'm not here to judge.
Just to report.

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. So he recorded it as:
    You heard me saying a prayer....
    For someone I really could care for.

    Shouldn't that be "For someone I really could care" And thus not repeat "for" again at the end of the line..which really screws up the rhyme?
    Torme would have been more grammatically correct, I suspect.

  2. You'd think. Your way is definitely better. Too late to tell Mel.

  3. I just think it's nice that Rodgers was so loyal to Hart. I wonder if he was similarly loyal to Hammerstein.

  4. If a Smurf drops his drawers does one see a Blue Moon?

  5. There's a chance you are eligible to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  6. There's a chance you are qualified to receive a Apple iPhone 7.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."