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Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?

12 May 19 - 03:44 PM (#3991984)
Subject: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: GUEST,Tony aka Pismotality

I know that Rodgers and Hart's Blue Moon was orginally The Bad in Every Man, and that there is currently some controversy about whether the song was originally written by someone else (see piece here by the daughter of the alleged songwriter), but today on the Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House, during a discussion about songs being adopted as football chants, someone said that Blue Moon was originally a hymn. Is that just plain wrong, as I suspect, or does anyone know anything about that?

12 May 19 - 05:06 PM (#3992002)
Subject: RE: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

See the "wikipedia article on the song for its original intended use when Jean Harlow was praying:

How the sequence fitted into the movie I haven't the foggiest notion, but the purpose was to express Harlow's overwhelming ambition to become a movie star ('Oh Lord, if you're not busy up there,/I ask for help with a prayer/So please don't give me the air ...')." The song was not recorded (nor was the movie released[2]) and MGM Song No.?225 "Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)" dated June 14, 1933, was registered for copyright as an unpublished work on July 10, 1933

The rewrite also was also abandoned; The Bad In Every Man seems to have been the third version!


12 May 19 - 10:53 PM (#3992026)
Subject: ADDPOP: Prayer (Rodgers & Hart)
From: Joe Offer

I've heard so many "my grandfather wrote this" claims, that I don't tend to believe them without a court decision. Nonetheless, the claim and presentation by Liz Roman Gallese is quite impressive. But note that Roman-Gallese does not have the original lyrics of the song that she claims her father wrote. Still, it's an interesting claim.

Was "Blue Moon" originally a hymn? I don't think so, but The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart (Dorothy Hart & Robert Kimball, Da Capo Press, 1995, page 199), says it was first a song titled "Prayer":

(Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart)

Oh, Lord,
If you ain't busy up there,
I ask for help with a prayer,
So please don't give me the air.
Oh, hear me, Lord.
I must see Garbo in person
With Gable when they're rehearsin'
While some director is cursin'.
Please let me open up my eyes at seven
And find I'm looking through the Golden Gate,
And walking right into my movie heaven,
While some executive tells me I'll be great.
Oh, Lord,
I know how friendly you are.
If I'm not going too far,
Be nice and make me a star.

Notes: MGM Song #225 is dated June 14, 1933, and was registered for copyright as an unpublished work by MetroGoldwyn.Mayer, July 10, 1933. The remarkable saga of "Prayer" epitomizes what Rodgers and Hart went through when they were under contract to Metro-Goidwyn-Mayer. In its first version the melody that became the tune to "Blue Moon" was intended for Jean Harlow to sing in Hollywood Party (1934). It was called "Prayer." Neither Miss Harlow nor "Prayer" appeared in Hollywood Party.

12 May 19 - 10:59 PM (#3992027)
Subject: ADDPOP: Manhattan Melodrama (Rodgers & Hart)
From: Joe Offer

(Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart)

All New York's a stage
And all its men and women are very bad actors.
How they rant and rage
For food and drink and money,
For those are the factors.
Out of the Bronx and Yonkers
Rushing to earn a wage—
He must be strong who conquers
On the Manhattan stage.
Act One:
You gulp your coffee and run;
Into the subway you crowd.
Don't breathe—it isn't allowed.
Act Two:
The boss is yelling at you;
You feel so frightened and cowed.
Don't breathe—it isn't allowed.

The rows of skyscrapers are like a canyon,
The sun is hidden 'neath a stony shroud,
Eight million people and not one companion:
Don't speak to anyone—it's not allowed.
Act Three:
You hate the sight of Broadway.
It's just that kind of a play— Manhattan Melodrama.

Notes: In its second life the "Prayer"/"Blue Moon" tune was given a new lyric and became the title song of the 1934 MGM film Manhattan Melodrama, which starred Clark Gable, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Leo Carillo, and was the movie that John Dillinger had been watching when he was gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. "Manhattan Melodrama" was also known as "It's Just That Kind of a Play." It was registered for copyright as an unpublished work by Metro-GoidwynMayer, March 30, 1934, but was cut from the film before it was ready for release.

Source: The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart (Dorothy Hart & Robert Kimball, Da Capo Press, 1995, page 199)

I don't know anything about Leo Carillo, but there's a very nice beach near Malibu named Leo Carillo State Beach.

12 May 19 - 11:07 PM (#3992028)
Subject: ADDPOP: The Bad in Every Man (Rodgers & Hart)
From: Joe Offer

But wait! There's a third song with the tune:

(Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart)

Sitting all alone
In moving picture theatres
Is ev'ry night's pleasure!
Walking on my own
When working hours are over,
I've nothing but leisure.
Am I a fool? I wonder.
Marriage is one way out.
But I'm afraid to blunder.
I sit home and doubt.

Oh, Lord!
What is the matter with me?
I'm just permitted to see
The bad in ev'ry man.
Oh, hear me, Lord!
I could be good to a lover,
But then I always discover
The bad in ev'ry man.
They like to tell you that they love you only.
And you believe it though you know you're wrong.
A little hallroom can be awfully lonely
And a night can be so very long.
Oh, Lord!
Perhaps I'll alter my plan
And overlook if I can
The bad in ev'ry man!

Manhattan Melodrama was also responsible for the third setting of the "Prayer"/"Blue Moon" tune. Under its new title, "The Bad in Every Man," it was sung by Shirley Ross in the film and was registered for copyright as an unpublished work by Metro-Gokiwyn-Mayer, May 9, 1934, four days after the picture opened in New York.

12 May 19 - 11:11 PM (#3992029)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: Joe Offer

I posted the Blue Moon lyrics in another thread, but here they are again.

Thread #8929   Message #56460
Posted By: Joe Offer
30-Jan-99 - 03:15 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/Add: Blue Moon (R Rodgers, L Hart)
Subject: ADD: Blue Moon (Rodgers & Hart)

Hmmmm. a forum search discloses that requests for this song come up once in a blue....
The song, written by Rodgers & Hart in 1934, actually has verses:
(Richard Rodgers, music; Lorenz Hart, lyrics)

Verse 1
Once upon a time,
Before I took up smiling,
I hated the moonlight!
Shadows of the night
That poets find beguiling
Seemed flat as the moonlight.
With no one to stay up for,
I went to sleep at ten.
Life was a bitter cup for
The saddest of all men.
    Blue Moon,
    You saw me standing alone,
    Without a dream in my heart,
    Without a love of 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.
    And then there suddenly appeared before me,
    The only one my arms will ever hold,
    I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me,"
    And when I looked,
    The moon had turned to gold!
    Blue moon,
    Now I'm no longer alone,
    Without a dream in my heart,
    Without a love of my own.
Verse 2
Once upon a time,
My heart was just an organ.
My life had no mission.
Now that I have you,
To be rich as Morgan
Is my one ambition.
Once I woke at seven,
Hating the morning light
Now I awake in Heaven
And all the world's all right.
Repeat Refrain

-Joe Offer-
Post revised 8 January 2005.

Source: Reading Lyrics, Gottlieb & Kimball, 2000
also: The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart, edited by Dorothy Hart and Robert Kimball.

13 May 19 - 01:43 PM (#3992130)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?

Interesting - so a "prayer" of sorts in one incarnation but it would certainly be stretching it beyond breaking point to describe that as a "hymn." Thanks for all the responses.

It may be partly about being accustomed to them but it's interesting how the final set of lyrics are really simple but fit, as with some of Hal David's - though I can't help wondering whether anyone has actually uttered the words: "Please adore me", even though that might well be the gist of a request.

16 May 19 - 12:57 PM (#3992645)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?

Only in Manchester!

18 May 19 - 06:01 PM (#3992930)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?

I know the Marcels turned it into one hell of a doo-wop song, maybe the best of the genre.

18 May 19 - 08:53 PM (#3992950)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: leeneia

Oh yeah, the Marcels

blue moon video

No, I don't think that was hymn.

19 May 19 - 10:32 PM (#3993095)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: GUEST,Ozzie Guest

Leo Carillo was Pancho in the Cisco Kid for those
of us who can remember the 1950s black and white series
Each show always ended in
"Oh Cisco"
"Oh Pancho"

Why they'd name a park after him is beyond me

19 May 19 - 11:47 PM (#3993097)
Subject: RE: Origins: Was Blue Moon a hymn?
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Ozzie Guest. Leo Carillo was descended from the pre-American Spanish aristocracy of Alta California. He played in numerous films (including lots of musicals), not just Cisco Kid. He was a preservationist and conservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks commission for eighteen years.