The Music of Crazy For You

Hi Ken,

Listening again (and again and again) to the original cast album, I realized it was filled with something I don't think the reviewers commented on: Love. I can hear it in every bar of every song and every bit of dialogue. You love the form. And whoever arranged the music truly loved the music. He or she got every bit of musicality out of those pieces that was contained or even hinted at within them. cfy_logo.jpgI've known all of these music very well, for several decades, and it was a joy to me to see what you guys did with it.

I was surprised by two numbers--the title song and "What Causes That." I had never heard these and I doubt they'd ever been recorded before. (I have--among other things--the recording rehearsal pianist Al Simon made, with a lot of very obscure Gershwin stuff--but not "What Causes That," an excellent tune.)

Who among you knew enough about Treasure Girl to remember these pieces and realize they should be revived? For a Gershwin fanatic like me, hearing these two was like discovering King Tut's tomb.

Anyhow, thank you for doing what you did. It's amazing what the combination of love and talent can achieve.

Harvey

Ken replies:


Dear Harvey,

What a wonderful email! Thank you so much for writing.

I love George and Ira's music as you do. They are the great heroes of American popular song.

To answer your question regarding familiarity with the music, the first thing I did to prepare for writing Crazy for You was to go out and purchased every single CD of George and Ira's music I could find. Eventually, I gathered about 30 or 40 discs. I listened to them several times and by the time I started writing, I knew every song that had ever been recorded. Incidentally, I've been told by the Gershwin Estate that George and Ira wrote over 400 songs together and that many of these songs remain unrecorded to this day.

With regards to “What Causes That” and "Krazy for You," during the process of writing the musical, I was in touch with the great performer Michael Feinstein. Michael was Ira's secretary in the years before Ira's death and was kind enough to be a sort of unofficial consultant on the project. When I was looking for a good comic song, Michael reminded me that he'd recorded “What Causes That” on one of his George and Ira albums.

Michael was also very helpful to me on a more recent collaboration with the Gershwins. LevesqueLudwig.JPGAbout three years ago, the Gershwin Estate approached me about doing a new musical based on the movie musical An American in Paris, and of course I was honored and thrilled to work on the project. The result was an incredible production that opened in May 2008 at the Alley Theatre, directed by Gregory Boyd, with a 21 piece orchestra, orchestrations by Doug Besterman, choreography by Randy Skinner, and a top notch team of designers, including Carrie Robbins (costumes), Doug Schmidt (sets) and Paul Gallo (lights). Just as Michael led me to discovering "What Causes That” and "Krazy for You," he was equally instrumental in my finding "Wake Up Brother and Dance," which I used to open An American in Paris. Discussions with Michael also helped me discover two wonderful comic songs that I use at the end of the musical, “Boy What Love Has Done To Me” and “Bad, Bad Men”.

Thank you again for writing.

Best regards,

Ken

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