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Newman Levy Songs


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GUEST,Stewart 18 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM
Joe Offer 18 Aug 00 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,lamarca 18 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM
Stewart 28 Aug 00 - 05:02 PM
Joe Offer 28 Aug 00 - 07:00 PM
Mary in Kentucky 28 Aug 00 - 09:09 PM
Stewart 28 Aug 00 - 10:06 PM
Mary in Kentucky 28 Aug 00 - 10:16 PM
dick greenhaus 28 Aug 00 - 10:44 PM
Stewart 28 Aug 00 - 11:50 PM
Stewart 31 Aug 00 - 06:30 PM
dick greenhaus 01 Sep 00 - 12:54 AM
Stewart 09 Jun 11 - 03:39 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 11 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Mark Mandel 08 Dec 18 - 02:23 PM
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Subject: Newman Levy Songs
From: GUEST,Stewart
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM

Looking for info on Newman Levy. Have sung Thais for many years but only recently found out lyrics written by Newman Levy - former Atty Gen NYC, trial lawyer, writer of light verse, opera and theater fan. Several poems from his book OPERA GUYED -- Thais, Carmen, Tristan & Isolda -- have been set to music (in DigTrad), but by whom? Another poem, Bluebeard, is certainly also by Newman, but where was this orig published? Another book, THEATRE GUYED, contains even better poems (stories of various plays), including Oedipus Rex, and The Three Cherry Sisters Karamazov, which I have set to music (the former my own, and the latter to Stenka Razin; I'd be happy to supply lyrics and music). He wrote an autobio, MY DOUBLE LIFE, in 1958, quite interesting. When did he die? Any living heirs who might provide more info? Who holds copyright to his material? Any other of his poems set to music? He is said to have replied to George Gershwin's question, "I wonder if my music will be played a hundred years from now?" with the answer, "Yes, if you're around to play it!" Quite a wit,he deserves to be more well known to a later generation.

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:10 PM

Gee, Stewart, I thought I'd be able to find better information. The three or four songs we have here seem to be the biggest collection of Newman Levy information that exists on the Internet. I did a Hotbot search and found very little. A Lycos search (click) brings up the Gershwin quote and a lot of tidbits of information you might like to explore, but nothing looks particularly substantial.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: GUEST,lamarca
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM

Well, this was fun! I now use Google as my search engine of choice. Their first hit for "Newman Levy" is a list of his papers collected by NYU :The Newman Levy Papers; a search of gives a number of Levy titles available from on-line used book dealers:

bookfinder search

"Opera Guyed" had its copyright renewed in Dec 1950, "Gay But Wistful, Verses" in May, 1953

The Web sources I found listed Levy's year of birth as 1888, but none gave a year of death...

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From: Stewart
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 05:02 PM

Thanks, Joe and lamarca. I guess I'm probably the local world's authority (world's local authority?). The Newman Levy Papers are only available to read at the NYU library (a long way from Seattle, where I reside). I just finished reading his autobiography MY DOUBLE LIFE (1958, only available at used bookstores or library) and I highly recommend it -- very interesting. I mentioned a couple of choice Newman lyrics, so I'll include them here. The first scans well to the tune of STANKA RAZIN (a Russian folk song), and I have composed a tune for the second which I can send to anyone interested as a midi file.

(Newman Levy)

His name was Boris Makaloff
Alexis Gregor Mackaloff,
His neighbors called him Grisha
In their quaintly Russian style.
His life was sad but lecherous
Mid landscape bleak and treacherous
Where Nevsky Prospekt pleases
And only man is vile.

He loved his cousin Anushka
Andreiovanya Babushka,
A gloomy dipsomaniac
Called Sonia by all.
A girl of low mentality
Which, in that grim locality,
Did not impair a maiden's
Popularity at all.

With ardent love did she adore
A student known as Fyodor,
A circumstance that filled our hero
Grisha with dismay;
So when his love she threw aside
He threatened sudden suicide
(A popular diversion
In a merry Russian play).

"Alas," he muttered sourly,
"I'm growing madder hourly.
Don't spurn me, little mother,
For this unattractive guy.
I may say, without vanity,
For unalloyed insanity
You'll have a job to find a lad
As lunatic as I."

"Although," retorted Anushka
Andreiovanya Babushka,
"Your maudlin, drunken lunacy
My girlish heart has swayed,
Though Fyodor's inferior,
He's gloomier and drearier,
A prime consideration to
A simple Russian maid."

Her ancient servant, Rubinoff,
Remarked "You're hardly boob enough
To want to wed a student
So devoid of worldly goods."
Said Fyodor dejectedly,
Arriving unexpectedly,
I'm but a simple Muscovite,
But how I love the woods!

"This life is all futility
And chronic imbecility;
It's desolate and empty as
A broken samovar."
"Alas! alack!" cried Sonia,
"I've galloping pneumonia!"
And burst into a melancholy
Tune on the guitar.

"Now, by our good St. Nicholas,
This all is too ridikilous!"
Cried Grisha with asperity, and
Drew a murderous gun.
"My paranoidal tendency
Is gaining the ascendancy.
Let's kill this fellow Fyodor
In clean and playful fun."

"Alas," retorted Anushka
Andreiovanya Babushka,
"That pistol is unloaded
That you're pointing at his head."
Cried Grisha, sad and tearfully,
"The fates have tricked me fearfully.
Let's get a flask of vodka, and
Get ossified instead."

So, as this project germinates
The play abruptly terminates.
(A custom of the Russians to
Leave everything in doubt.)
Although I've seen the best of them
By Tchekoff and the rest of them
I've not the slightest notion what
The devil they're about.

The lyrics are by Newman Levy, published in Theatre Guyed, 1933, Alfred A. Knopf, NY. It can be sung to the tune of STENKA RAZIN.

(Newman Levy)

List to the story of Oedipus Rex,
Poor little, misunderstood little Oedipus,
Victim of sad maladjustment of sex,
Poor little Oedipus Rex.

When Oedipus was but a babe,
(So runs the tale historical),
His doting dad betook the lad
(A custom that those ancients had)
To interview the oracle.

Because in Greece,
In Ancient Greece
They'd never start a thing or cease,
Commence a war or make a peace
Unless they asked the oracle.

The pythoness upon the throne
Said sadly and oracular,
"This lad, ha ha! will kill his pa
And after that he'll wed his ma,
A sad life, but spectacular."

When Oedipus's dad heard that,
The Theban King La‹us,
"It's up to me," he said, said he,
"To circumvent that prophecy
And find a way to free us.

"I'm off that oracle for life.
From now," he said, "all bets off.
She thinks she's slick; I know a trick
To make that Delphic dame look sick.
I'll show her where she gets off."

And so he called a servant in,
A faithful old attendant.
"I hesitate to flirt with fate,
So please," he said, "assassinate
My helpless young descendant."

The servant had a tender heart,
Considering his station.
"Although, oh, King, it's hard to bring
Myself," he said, "to do this thing,
I'll murder your relation."

Instead he took the babe away,
A puny undergrown child,
And gave him to a shepherd who
Exclaimed, "I'll take that brat from you
And rear him as my own child."

So Oedipus to man's estate
Grew up, a rustic peasant.
No thought of care intruded there,
For, of his future unaware,
His life was gay and pleasant.

One day while strolling down a road,
An unfrequented byway,
An unknown guy came driving by
Who socked our hero in the eye
And shoved him off the highway.

He straightway raised his staff and smote
The man who'd rudely kicked him,
Quite unaware that then and there
Upon that public thoroughfare
His father was his victim.

Nearby his home there dwelt a sphinx
Who filled the land with terror;
Half girl half bird who put absurd
Conundrums to the passing herd,
And ate them when in error.

When Oedipus, a puzzle fan,
Was told the tale distressing
He said, "Methinks I'll put a jinx
Upon that riddle-asking sphinx.
I'm very good at guessing."

So to the sphinx he went and said,
"I'm fit as any fiddle.
Go do your stuff. However tough
I'll solve the question quick enough
Come on! Let's hear your riddle!"

The sphinx then gave a sphinx-like leer
And murmured "Here's my query-"
Without a fuss Young Oedipus
Replied, "The answer's thus and thus.
That ought to hold you, dearie."

The monster gave a shriek and died
'Mid widespread jubilation.
"The sphinx is dead!" the people said,
"Let's make this bright young lad the head
Of this here Theban nation."

And thus he rose to royal rank,
And wed the consort regal,
But cruel fate, I hate to state,
Had made the lad his mother's mate,
A marriage quite illegal.

Now came a dire and dreadful plague
With devastating quickness,
And all in Thebes, both Greeks and Heebs,
Were smitten with the Heebie-jeebs,
A most appalling sickness.

The oracle exclaimed, "Ha, ha!
I'm sorry for to scold you,
This plague is sent for punishment.
You're harboring a guilty gent.
Don't say I never told you."

And so at last the truth's revealed.
The luckless monarch cries out,
"Though Doctor Freud be overjoyed
I must confess I'm quite annoyed."
With that he puts his eyes out.

Thus ends the story of Oedipus Rex,
Poor little, misunderstood little Oedipus,
Victim of sad maladjustment of sex,
Poor little Oedipus Rex.

The lyrics are by Newman Levy, published in Theatre Guyed, 1933, Alfred A. Knopf, NY. ^^

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 07:00 PM

These are great, Stewart - could you please e-mail the tune to me so I can include it in the database with the song? I'll also forward the tune to Mudcat MIDIs.
-Joe Offer (click to e-mail)-

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 09:09 PM

Stewart - I'd like to hear the tune to Thais also. From reading the words in the DT, it sounds like the same story as the opera, Thais, by Jules Massenet. One of my favaorite melodies is Meditation from this opera. You can hear it at The Classical Midi Connection - Romantic Period - Massenet.


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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Stewart
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 10:06 PM

Mary -- what's your email address? I'll email you midi files for Thais and also Oedipus. Yes this story of Thais is the same as the Opera. Newman Levy was quite an opera fan and did poems of a bunch of operas in his book OPERA GUYED -- this is probably his best.

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 10:16 PM

I'll PM you my address.

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 10:44 PM

Could someone please post Levy's Rain? My copies of Opera Guyed and Theater Guyed vanished in the long-distant past.

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Subject: Lyr Add: RAIN (Newman Levy)^^
From: Stewart
Date: 28 Aug 00 - 11:50 PM

Dick -- Here is Levy's Rain. It's another choice one. Anyone have a tune for this?

(Newman Levy)

On the isle of Pago Pago,
land of palm trees, rice and sago,
Where the Chinaman and Dago
dwell with natives dusky hued,
Lived a dissolute and shady,
bold adventuress named Sadie,
Sadie Thompson was the lady,
and the life she lived was lewd.

She had practised her profession
in our insular possession,
Which, to make a frank confession,
people call the Philippines.
There she'd made a tidy profit
till the clergy, hearing of it,
Made her life as hot as Tophet,
driving her to other scenes.

So this impudent virago
hied herself to Pago Pago
Where the Chinaman and Dago
to her cottage often came.
Trade was lucrative and merry,
till one day the local ferry
Brought a noble missionary,
Rev'rend Davidson by name.

Stern, austere and apostolic,
life was no amusing frolic.
Braving fevers, colds and colic,
he had come with prayers and hymns,
Most intolerant of wowsers,
to those primitive carousers
Bearing chaste and moral trousers
to encase their nether limbs.

In her quaint exotic bower,
'mid a never-ending shower,
Sadie Thompson, by the hour,
entertained the local trade.
Every night brought more and more men,
soldiers, natives, clerks and store-men,
Sailors, gallant man-of-war men,
while her gay victrola played.

"Ha!" exclaimed the irate pastor,
"straight you're headed for disaster.
I'll convince you who's the master,
shameless woman of the street
"Listen, Rev.," said Sadie tartly,
pardon me for punning smartly
"Though I get your meaning-partly -
still, alas, a girl must eat."

"Girl," he cried in indignation,
"choose at once between salvation
And immediate deportation
from this charming tropic glade.
Like a devastating plague,
O Scarlet Dame of Pago Pago,
You're as welcome as lumbago,
plying here your brazen trade."

Sadie said, "Though I'm no scoffer,
that's a lousy choice you proffer,
Still I must accept your offer
though my pride has been attacked.
Come on, Rev., and let us kill
a flask or two of sarsaparilla
Here in my delightful villa
while I watch you do your act."

Let us veil the tragic sequel,
for a pious man but weak will
Find, alas, that he's unequal
to a lady's potent charms.
So his long suppressed libido,
sharp as steel of famed Toledo,
Spurning prayers and hymns and credo,
found surcease in Sadie's arms.

There beside the waters tidal,
urged by impulse suicidal,
Lay, next day, the shattered idol,
cleansed at last of sin and taint.
Here's the moral: Though a preacher
fail to make a fallen creature
Pure and saintly as her teacher,
she, perhaps, can make a saint.

The lyrics are by Newman Levy, published in Theatre Guyed, 1933, Alfred A. Knopf, NY. ^^

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Stewart
Date: 31 Aug 00 - 06:30 PM

Okay, I've posted a web page Newman Levy Songs with the songs I have collected along with their tune clips.

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Sep 00 - 12:54 AM

Many thanx. IMH, tunes are secondary in importance for this type of verse, and almost anything that fits works if it's not too distracting.

You could try the tune of Mary Ellen Carter to Rain (with a wee bit of fiddling)

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Stewart
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 03:39 PM

I included BLUEBEARD in my collection of Newman Levy songs since it sounds like something Newman would have written (from DT - Note: I don't know who wrote this, but it sounds like Newman Levy. Anybody know? RG). But I just found out Bluebeard was written by Guy Wetmore Carryl. It is from his book Grimm Tales Made Gay, and the full title of the poem is "How the Helpmate of Blue-Beard Made Free with a Door".

I never could find any mention of Bluebeard in any of Newman Levy's writing. This solves the mystery. It looks like there are some great poems and puns by Guy Carryl. I think he merits some review.

"You are only absurd when you get in the curd,
But you're rude when you get in the whey."
from 'The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet,'쳌 by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Cheers, S. in Seattle

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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 04:27 AM

It only took me 11 years to get to it, Stewart, but I just read Newman Levy's 1933 poem "Rain," which you posted in 2000. It's almost exactly the plot of the 1953 Rita Hayworth movie, Miss Sadie Thompson. Turns out that Sadie Thompson was the main character in four movies, the first played by Gloria Swanson in the 1928 movie Sadie Thompson.

Wikipedia has quite a story on the Sadie Thompson saga, which apparently started out in 1921 as a Somerset Maugham short story titled "Miss Thompson" (click for text) (audio version here-click). Apparently, the title of the Somerset Maugham story was later changed to "Rain." So, the Newman Levy song came after the short story and one or two of the movies.


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Subject: RE: Newman Levy Songs: misspelling in Thais
From: GUEST,Mark Mandel
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 02:23 PM

The lyric given on this site for "Thais" differs in some insignificant details from the one I learned, but that's normal folk variation. However, there's once misspelling that must be corrected: the monk's name is Athanael with AE, not Athaneal with EA. See, where the second paragraph ends with the sentence

The work was first performed in Italy ... with Lina Cavalieri in the title role and Francesco Maria Bonini as Athanaël.

The EA misspelling suggests a mispronunciation as "athaneel", which has only three syllables and messes up the meter. But just as we often spell "Thaïs" in English without the dieresis over the "i", we can write "Athanaël" as "Athanael".

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