Free For All

What's the verse that can happen?

45 posts in this topic

The verse is an overlooked aspect of the jazz standard IMHO. Remember when Dick Oatts and Gary Dial did a recording featuring rarely-played verses to standard tunes?

There are verses to familiar tunes like All The Things You Are, and of course the great verse that precedes Stardust.

I haven't found a definitive source to list these hidden treasures, so I thought this would be a good place to start; maybe folks could list some of their favorites and maybe some of which we might not have been aware.

Here's the question that motivated me to start this thread:

Is anyone aware of there being a verse to the Johnny Mandel tune Emily? I haven't been able to find out.

If so, can you recommend a recording I could check out?

Thank you in advance. :)

Edited by Free For All

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Silly question perhaps, but why is it called a "verse" when it functions as an introduction?

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I'm not sure what the answer to that is.

Where the hell is Mike Fitzgerald? :)

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Is anyone aware of there being a verse to the Johnny Mandel tune Emily? I haven't been able to find out.

If so, can you recommend a recording I could check out?

Thank you in advance. :)

It's been years since I've heard it, but I have a recording of Sue Raney singing Emily. I believe that the album is called Sue Raney Sings Johnny Mandel or something similar. As I recall it was on the Discovery label.

Sorry I can't be of more definitive help.

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Thanks GA- I do have several recordings of the tune, I'm just curious if anyone has heard one with what might be a verse.

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I don't know about the origin of the terms "verse" and "refrain" for popular songs, but I've often thought that in many instances the verse acts almost like recitative in opera, coming before the aria. The verses tend to be rather wordy, not very interesting harmonically, but serve to simply set the mood for the refrain.

There are certainly some verses that are quite beautiful (Stardust, Lush Life), and that's why they get performed more often. So I guess those exceptions prove the rule.

As for Emily, I haven't seen any evidence of a pre-refrain verse. A quick google search (are you listening, G.W.?) showed a Barbra Streisand record called "The Movie Album", and the notes mention that she asked Johnny Mandel to "write another verse" for her, which I assume means another stanza of lyrics for the refrain. Even though I think Johnny Mercer wrote the original lyric.

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DukeCity has it just about right. The verse is very like recitative. In fact, it serves as a transition between the dialogue interludes of a musical comedy and the full-blown songs, aka the "refrain" or "chorus" that are the meat of the song. Watch any Astaire/Rogers musical and you'll see how this works.

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my favorite is the verse to Tea For Two -

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One of my favourites is the verse to Stardust - but as in the livelier, instrumental version of c. 1929 (don't have more details at hand - I think Carmichael himself plays in it).

The one I dislike the most is the verse to The Man I Love. Bad (as in bad).

F

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DukeCity has it just about right. The verse is very like recitative. In fact, it serves as a transition between the dialogue interludes of a musical comedy and the full-blown songs, aka the "refrain" or "chorus" that are the meat of the song. Watch any Astaire/Rogers musical and you'll see how this works.

Ya learn something new everyday. :)

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interesting thing about the verse and the melody to Stardust - as someone else once pointed out, both sound very much like something that might have been improvised by Bix Beiderbecke, who was, indeed, a very great personal influence on Carmichael at this time -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Didn't Sinatra once record the verse of "Stardust" all by itself?

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There are certain tunes which would be almost criminal to do without the verse. "Spring can Really Hang You up the Most" comes to mind. The verse is such a strong setup for the story and the lyric, melody and changes are so perfect and perfectly interdependent that I've almost never heard it done without the verse (the one exception was Barbra Streisand on the Tonight Show, early 60s. But they were dealing with tight time restraints.

On the other hand "My Foolish Heart" has a beautiful 8 bar verse that's practically never done. Tony Bennett did it with Bill Evans on their first collaboration. I think "Young and Foolish" gets short shrifted too, speaking of titles with 'foolish' in them (not to mention foolish acts).

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interesting thing about the verse and the melody to Stardust - as someone else once pointed out, both sound very much like something that might have been improvised by Bix Beiderbecke, who was, indeed, a very great personal influence on Carmichael at this time -

Did y'all hear Benny Golson's story about that tune? Probably, but it's pretty funny:

He says so many times a melody came to him in a dream or while half asleep and he would say "That's good, I gotta write that down in the morning". Of course he would never remember it and it would be lost in the ether. So one day a melody came to him and he said "this time I'm writing it down. Now". He got up and went to his studio, jotted the tune down and went back to bed.

Next morning he wakes up and goes to check it out. He had written down the verse to "Stardust"......

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I've got about 20 versions of "Emily"...

Joe Beck / Red Mitchell

Joe Beck

Tony Bennett

John Campbell

Paul Desmond

Bill Evans

Irene Kral

Lou Levy

Mundell Lowe / Lloyd Wells

Warne Marsh

Mary Osborne

Art Pepper

Bill Perkins

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson / Marian McPartland

Zoot Sims

Martin Taylor

Cal Tjader

Stanley Turrentine

I just listened to a bunch of them...and so far, no verse anywhere (although a few featured nice introductions).

When I think of verses, I automatically think of Ella first- especially the "Songbook" albums. A treasure trove for anybody looking for verses.

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I don't know about the origin of the terms "verse" and "refrain" for popular songs, but I've often thought that in many instances the verse acts almost like recitative in opera, coming before the aria. The verses tend to be rather wordy, not very interesting harmonically, but serve to simply set the mood for the refrain.

There are certainly some verses that are quite beautiful (Stardust, Lush Life), and that's why they get performed more often. So I guess those exceptions prove the rule.

As for Emily, I haven't seen any evidence of a pre-refrain verse. A quick google search (are you listening, G.W.?) showed a Barbra Streisand record called "The Movie Album", and the notes mention that she asked Johnny Mandel to "write another verse" for her, which I assume means another stanza of lyrics for the refrain. Even though I think Johnny Mercer wrote the original lyric.

YES YES YES! REFRAIN! That's the frickin' word I've been racking my brain over for the last two weeks! It's not called a verse, it's called a refrain! As someone who did his fair share of musicals in high school and college (ok, don't start), as Kalo explained, they are a writing tool to get from the spoken dialogue into the song and are not necessarily a part of the song itself. They are almost part of the dialogue.

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I've heard both terms "refrain" and "verse" used (and I've always used the term "verse") but "refrain" is probably less confusing and more accurate.

Edited by Free For All

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The way I have it organized in my little pea brain, when we're talking about an older pop song like Stardust, the first part is the verse, and the main part that one usually blows over is the refrain (the refrain consists of one or more 'choruses'). In more contemorary pop songs there is more of a scheme like:

verse

verse

chorus

verse

chorus

hook/chorus

For example, the Bachman, Turner Overdrive classic "Takin' Care of Business"

The verse is:

They get up every morning from the alarm clock's warning

Take the eight-fifteen into the city

There's a whistle up above and people push and people shove

And all the girls, who try to look pretty

And if your train's on time you can get to work by nine

And start your slaving job to get your pay

If you ever get annoyed look at me I'm self-employed

I love to work at nothing all day

And the chorus (or possibly refrain) is:

And I've been takin' care of business everyday

Takin' care of business every way

I've been takin' care of business it's all mine

Takin' care of business and working overtime

Workout

But then, when you open it up for blowing on the wedding band gig, what part do you blow over?

It's all so confusing... :huh:

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For example, the Bachman, Turner Overdrive classic "Takin' Care of Business"

The verse is:

They get up every morning from the alarm clock's warning

Take the eight-fifteen into the city

There's a whistle up above and people push and people shove

And all the girls, who try to look pretty

And if your train's on time you can get to work by nine

And start your slaving job to get your pay

If you ever get annoyed look at me I'm self-employed

I love to work at nothing all day

And the chorus (or possibly refrain) is:

And I've been takin' care of business everyday

Takin' care of business every way

I've been takin' care of business it's all mine

Takin' care of business and working overtime

Workout

But then, when you open it up for blowing on the wedding band gig, what part do you blow over?

The cash bar?

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The way I have it organized in my little pea brain, when we're talking about an older pop song like Stardust, the first part is the verse, and the main part that one usually blows over is the refrain (the refrain consists of one or more 'choruses').

That's pretty much the way I had it figured as well. The "verse" is that talky, less melodic bridge between speech and song, the "refrain" is what we think of as the song itself.

Of course, we haven't talked about the "bridge" or "release" yet...

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Silly question perhaps, but why is it called a "verse" when it functions as an introduction?

Yeah, that may be why I always thought of them as "intros."

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"Refrain" is what I should do when this stuff comes up.

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Does anyone know if the tune Polkadots and Moonbeams has a verse (or refrain, whatever), and if so, is there a recorded version of it? Thanks in advance.

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I searched my collection, and tried a few google searches, and I couldn't find any such evidence. For some reason, I thought there was a verse to that... and maybe there is, but I thought I had a recording... :unsure:

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