Writings about Music
I'll Take Larry
Soul to Soul
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
You know, I love Cole Porter as much as ANYONE. But to paraphrase a song named "Manhattan", "I'll take Larry Hart, and Richard Rodgers, too."
I love how Larry (Lorenz) stated that he and Dick (Richard) were the only song writing team on Broadway that didn't claim to be geniuses. Rather, they simply worked hard at it, he said.
There is a uniquely deep and breathtakingly pure spirituality in their songs born from their shared Jewish American culture synergizing with African American culture and Italian American culture and Irish American culture and jazz among too many other influences to mention known and unknown. And their songs became among the prime ragas of swing and modern jazz.
Larry and Dick's sophistication and elegance are like a ruby within a sapphire within an emerald within - you get the idea.
If asked to compare and contrast Hart with Porter the lyricist, I would say Larry Hart saw "a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower," to quote William Blake, whereas Cole Porter imbibed the excitements of high society in Manhattan, etc. There's a deeper spirituality in Hart, less self-consciousness.
How tragic the difficulties Hart had in his life due to prejudices of the time and alcoholism, not to mention how he was apparently very short. One just wants to reach out and save him. Like how Rodgers and Hart save us every day.
Apparently, incredibly, Larry Hart was inordinately stung by criticism, something inevitable even Leonard Bernstein said was the down side of his life in music.
Here's to you, Larry. You're the TOP and that ain't no lie.
By the way, Manhattan was their first hit song together, and the first publishers they took it to said it had no value.
Also by the way, Frank Sinatra agreed with me about Rodgers and Hart. That was a confimation good to learn about my musical instincts. The Voice also said that lyrics were even more important than music in the songs he sang.
I grew up listening to my mother, Lila Robinson, play Rodgers and Hart songs on the piano so well it was a powerfully formative musical experience. She has a formidible gift, also playing major concertos while a teenager, and might easily have become a leading classical pianist. My Romance was the favorite song of my father.
- Michael Robinson, January 2020, Los Angeles
© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist)