Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Liza Sang It First

 A whole generation is singing this movie theme -- and getting the lyrics wrong. The song is from a 1977 Martin Scorsese film that starred Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli.  The musical drama is NEW YORK, NEW YORK. Liza's character, a 1940s band singer who became a 1950s movie star, introduces the title tune, the theme to NEW YORK, NEW YORK, in the last 20 minutes of the film. It's one of the original songs written for Scorsese's film. The original songs were written by Broadway tunesmiths John Kander and Fred Ebb. One of their Broadway hits was CABARET. Liza Minnelli starred in the 1972 movie adaptation and won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Here she is introducing the world to Kander and Ebb's theme to Scorsese's 1977 film.


For decades, at the stroke of midnight when the ball drops in Times Square to welcome in a Happy New Year, ABC blasts Frank Sinatra's rendition of "New York, New York" during its live festivities telecast. We see shots of revelers in the crowd singing along with Sinatra. I'm the son of Sinatra fans. I'm a Sinatra fan. One of the most thrilling experiences of my life happened in Chicago one night when Frank Sinatra motioned me over to shake his hand after he gave a sensational concert. I loved and still love Frank Sinatra.

However, he muffs the lyrics in his vocal. He gets a couple of lines wrong. Because of the popularity of his recording, thousands and thousands of other people are singing the wrong lyrics too. There was a soundtrack to NEW YORK, NEW YORK. Why doesn't any network blast Liza's rendition, the one with the correct lyrics?

Last night was a great night in my beloved New York City. Broadway opened again. Plays were onstage again after theaters had been dark for months and months due to the pandemic. HAMILTON was one of the shows back in action.

About 7:30 last night, New York Times culture reporter, Julia Jacobs, wrote this in an article that was posted online:

"Get a mask, get vaccinated and come see live theater!" Lin-Manuel Miranda said as he lead a group of Broadway performers in a rendition of Frank Sinatra's "Theme from 'New York, New York'" outside the Richard Rodgers Theater."

Bless her heart. It's not really Frank Sinatra's theme. It's more Kander & Ebb's theme -- written for Liza Minnelli. Here's another original song from the Martin Scorsese movie. Liza played a band singer. De Niro played a jazz musician. They meet, fall in love, marry and then break up when he becomes verbally and physically abusive. After the divorce, singer Francine Evans (Minnelli) records this song.

 I still say the theme to Martin Scorsese's NEW YORK, NEW YORK should've been an Oscar nominee for Best Song. It wasn't. The Oscar went to "You Light Up My Life."

Sinatra never covered that one.


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