'Tis Autumn (well, almost)

We love autumn more than any other season, and it’s not even close. We love it so much that we wrote an essay about it a while back that we hope you’ll find amusing (you may even have heard us present it on NPR’s All Things Considered some years ago):

See You in September

Another Labor Day has come and gone, and once again, I spent the last week of summer gritting my teeth as op-ed columnists and on-air commentators bemoan the passing of another summer. At times like this I feel like a Unitarian enduring a fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist sermon: Though I may concur with certain of the preacher’s points, I can’t help but feel that he’s overstating his case.

For, unless you’re at the beach or poolside—and let’s face it, at any given time, what percentage of us are?—summer is surely the most overrated annual event this side of New Year’s Eve. The joys of the season are largely mythical. For many the word “summer” conjures images of sun, sand, and surf, of long, lazy days spent idling in a hammock, of cookouts, pool parties, and miniature golf. All of which admittedly sounds delightful, but whose docket is so clear? Unless you’re under the age of 16 or make your living as a teacher, your boss, like mine, probably expects you at the office 8 hours a day, five days a week—even in June, July, and August—and would consider “But—it’s summer!” an unacceptable explanation of a prolonged absence.

No, that vision of summer is largely a pipe dream but I’m happy to remind you of some of the season’s attributes that are not: searingly hot vinyl carseats, clothes that stick to one’s damp skin, and yard work. This last is reason enough to resent the onset of summer, and is perhaps the primary motivation for my immigration, all those years ago, from the suburbs of Oklahoma City to the island of Manhattan. Not that this concrete jungle is any kind of summer paradise: It’s hot, hazy, and humid. But at least it doesn’t need mowing.

But in autumn! Ah, autumn is a grand time in Gotham: The city is imbued with the sort of glow usually seen only in the work of a master cinematographer. The haze dissipates, there’s a nip in the air, and the island’s energy, once sapped by the summer heat, returns with a flourish, like a leggy supermodel just back from the Hamptons.

It’s been suggested to me on more than one occasion—and by members of more than one gender—that summer’s tribulations are worth enduring if only for the expanses of skin that are bared for our pleasure: Even this, I submit, is a mixed blessing, at best. Let’s face it, it’s a relatively rare human being who possesses a midriff or a set of gams worthy of display. Most of us look far better in a sweater and slacks than we ever would in a cut-off T-shirt and bikini briefs. The good Lord has blessed us each with a perfectly good imagination: Pray let us give each other occasion to exercise it.

Perhaps the biggest trial summer presents us is olfactory in nature. Yes, there are pleasant smells associated with the season: the sweet scent of a perfectly ripe peach, the alluring aroma of steaks on the grill, the wafting delights of honeysuckle in the air. But summer is decidedly unkind to many of nature’s creatures. Late some August afternoon, stand close and take a good of whiff of your dog, your eight-year-old, or your next-door neighbor. Chances are, all three are in dire need of a good scrubbing and none is likely to undertake it on his own.

So decry the passing of summer if you must, but be aware that the sentiment is not unversal, that there are others like me whose hearts are set aloft by the delights of autumn—by shopping for new school clothes, sampling the season’s first pumpkin pie, or indulging in a long stroll on a chill night with just a hint of woodsmoke in the air. And we fall-o-philes will no longer remain silent. We will loudly celebrate our seasonal preferences with energy, enthusiasm, and pride—autumnal pride!

We know it’s not quite autumn yet—not according to the calendar, anyway—but just as Labor Day is by viewed by so many summer lovers as the unofficial end of their favorite season, for us fall-o-philes, it’s the unofficial beginning of autumn. So we’re celebrating by adding a slew of autumn-themed tunes to the Cladrite Radio playlist. Keep listening—you’ll notice them over the coming days and weeks.

And just to whet your appetite, we’ve included two of our favorites below, along with some delightful lyrics that capture our mood.

Happy autumn, everyone!

Nat “King” Cole — “‘Tis Autumn”

Kay Kyser and His Orchestra — “Shine on, Harvest Moon”

‘Tis Autumn
Old Father Time checked, so there’d be no doubt.
Called on the North wind to come on out,
Then cupped his hands so proudly to shout,
“La-di-dah di-dah-di-dum, ’tis autumn!”

Trees say they’re tired, they’ve born too much fruit.
Charmed on the wayside, there’s no dispute.
Now shedding leaves, they don’t give a hoot.
La-di-dah di-dah-di-dum, ’tis autumn!

Then the birds got together
To chirp about the weather.
La-dah-di la-dah-di la-dah-dum
After makin’ their decision,
In birdie-like precision,
Turned about, and
Made a beeline to the south.

My holding you close really is no crime.
Ask the birds and the trees and old Father Time.
It’s just to help the mercury climb.
La-di-dah di-dah-di-dum, ’tis autumn.

—Henry Nemo, words and music

Everything old is new again

Well, the tough times that have been making it rough for so many for so long have touched Cladrite Radio, too: We got the go-by (perhaps “bye-bye” is more apt) from our employer of nearly eight years. It wasn’t a firing, they assured us. Our work remained stellar, or so they insisted. It was, instead, a down-sizing. In short, they eliminated our position altogether.

So it struck us as fitting when, just a day or two later, we came across a 1933 recording by Gene Kardos and His Orchestra of Abel Baer and Sam M. Lewis’ “If I Ever Get a Job Again.”

The perky tune pepped us up just a smidge, and the words struck us as being just as appropriate today as when they were written, nearly eighty years ago.

Give a listen, and see what you think.

Gene Kardos and His Orchestra, feat. Dick Robertson — “If I Ever Get a Job Again”

If I ever get a job again,
I will never be a snob again.
I’ll live within my means,
Carry a dollar in my jeans
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get a break again,
Brother, what I’ll do to stake again.
No turning out the light,
Bidding my appetite good night
If I ever get a break again.

I’ll get two rooms and a kitchenette,
Furnished comfortably.
With two rooms and a kitchenette,
I’ll get a sweet somebody to move in with me.

If I ever get a job again,
I know that two hearts’ll throb again.
She told me with her eyes,
We’ll be rehearsing lullabyes
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get a job again,
I will never be a snob again.
I’m through with stocks and bonds,
I’d rather spend it all on blondes
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get my pay again,
I’ll save it for a rainy day again.
But let me tell you, bud,
I’m gonna save up for a flood
If I ever get my pay again.

I’ll get two suits and an overcoat,
Like a millionaire.
Just two suits and an overcoat,
And then when things get better,
I’ll buy underwear.

If I ever get a job again,
With my old friends I’ll hobnob again.
What great fun it will be,
Saying, “Just have one more on me,”
If I ever get a job again.

—Abel Baer (music); Sam M. Lewis (lyrics)

P.S. If you know of a job opening that might suit us, get in touch!

Lyrics that make you go Hmmm, pt. 3

In our ongoing perusals of song lyrics that reveal the past of our parents and grandparents to be not quite so wholesome as often assumed, we offer the following words from a song called “Good for You, Bad for Me.”

It was written for the musical comedy “Flying High” by the songwriting team of Ray Henderson (melody), Lew Brown (lyrics), and Buddy DeSylva (lyrics).

Good for you, bad for me
when you hold me tight on your knee.
Oh, it may be awfully good for you
but it’s so bad for me.

What you do, I’ll agree
is as thrilling as it can be.
And it may be awfully good for you,
but it’s so bad for me.

What a huckleberry yo.
Aren’t you tired of hearing no?
You keep saying you’ve got to,
but my momma said not to.

I’m a she, you’re a he,
But some things in life are not free.
So it won’t do you a bit of good,
and it’s so bad for me.

Here’s a 1930 recording of the song by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, featuring vocals by The Three Girl Friends (a.k.a. The Three Waring Girls).

“Good for You, Bad for Me” — Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, feat. The Three Girl Friends

Lyrics that make you go Hmmm, pt. 2

Since the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B in the 1950s, song lyrics that find the singer trying to coerce someone into bed have been not at all uncommon, but it was quite different in the first half of the 20th century, no? Weren’t those more innocent days?

Not necessarily. Check out these lyrics from You’ll Do It Someday (So Why Not Now?), a song, composed by one Al Wrubel, that the popular crooner Rudy Vallee made famous in 1929. They may not quite qualify as graphically sexual, but subtle they’re not:

You’ll do it someday, so why not now?
Oh, won’t you let me try to show you how?
Think what you’re missing.
Oh, it’s a shame.
You’ll miss the kissing and the rest of the game.

In open spaces, where men are men,
A chicken never waits till she’s a hen.
Don’t keep me waiting,
For I do vow,
You’ll do it someday, so why not now?

No shrinking violet was our Mr. Vallee — that’s a come-on to make Marvin Gaye proud!

The lyrics are perhaps not as surprising coming from Vallee, a singer who described himself late in life as having had … er, um … “a cock in my voice.” Vallee was indeed a sex symbol in his day, and it’s intriguing to ponder what was considered sexy in a singer in 1929 as opposed to today.

We’ve been playing the song on Cladrite Radio of late, but if you’ve missed it, you can hear it below. You can also see a clip of Vallee and the Yale Collegians performing the song here.

You’ll Do It Someday (So Why Not Now?) — Rudy Vallee and His Yale Collegians

Lyrics that make you go Hmmm: I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan

I love these lyrics, written in 1929 by Howard Dietz (Arthur Schwartz wrote the melody), for their wit, their evocation of the time during which they were composed, and for the slightly naughty aspect of at least one passage. It’s almost like a pre-code movie in song form.

I also was intrigued to note the usage of “fly,” with a meaning not so different from the one that term was afforded in the 1990s.

I guess I’ll have to change my plan
I should have realized there’d be another man
I overlooked that point completely
Until the big affair began.

Before I knew where I was at,
I found myself upon the shelf and that was that;
I tried to reach the moon, but when I got there
All that I could get was the air.

My feet are back upon the ground
I lost the one girl that I’d found.

I guess I’ll have to change my plan
I should have realized there’d be another man;
Why did I buy those blue pajamas
Before that big affair began?

My boiling point is much too low
For me to try to be a fly Lothario;
I think I’ll crawl right back and into my shell,
Dwelling in my personal hell.

I’ll have to change my plan around
I’ve lost the one girl I’ve found.