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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

That 'lyrical' look at life and love

“One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with them.” – Ira Gershwin

When it comes to writing lyrics, few can surpass Ira Gershwin, who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.

Born on this date in 1896, Ira – along with George – wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring such hit songs as "I Got Rhythm,” "Embraceable You,”  "The Man I Love,” "Strike Up The Band," and "Someone to Watch Over Me.”   He was also responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George's opera Porgy and Bess.

The success the brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played.   And his mastery of songwriting, especially wonderful lyrics, continued after the early death of George. He wrote hit songs with composers Jerome Kern ("Long Ago and Far Away),” Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen.

Ira’s critically acclaimed book Lyrics on Several Occasions, published in 1959, is an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology and an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song.  If you haven’t had the chance to read it or read excerpts from it, I highly commend it to you as one of those “must read” books, especially aspiring writers. 
Ira Gershwin was a joyous listener to the sounds                          
 of the modern world, all which became key segments of his writing. "I guess,” he once said, “I had a sharp eye and ear for the minutiae of living."

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