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A Fine Romance

Jewish Songwriters, American Songs

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Hardcover published by Schocken (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Part of the Jewish Encounter series

In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook—the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies—and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hears America singing—with a Yiddish accent. He guides us through America in the golden age of song, when “Embraceable You,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “My Romance,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Stormy Weather,” and countless others became nothing less than the American sound track. The stories behind these songs, the shows from which many of them came, and the shows from which many of them came, and the composers and lyricists who wrote them give voice to a specifically American saga of love, longing, assimilation, and transformation.

Lehman’s analytical skills, wit, and exuberance infuse this book with an energy and a tone like no other: at once sharply observant, personally searching, and attuned to the songs that all of us love. He helps us understand how natural it should be that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated “Over the Rainbow” into his Sabbath liturgy, and why Cole Porter—the rare non-Jew in this pantheon of musicians who wrote these classic songs shaped America even as America was shaping them.
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Part of the Jewish Encounter series

In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook—the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies—and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hears America singing—with a Yiddish accent. He guides us through America in the golden age of song, when “Embraceable You,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “My Romance,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Stormy Weather,” and countless others became nothing less than the American sound track. The stories behind these songs, the shows from which many of them came, and the shows from which many of them came, and the composers and lyricists who wrote them give voice to a specifically American saga of love, longing, assimilation, and transformation.

Lehman’s analytical skills, wit, and exuberance infuse this book with an energy and a tone like no other: at once sharply observant, personally searching, and attuned to the songs that all of us love. He helps us understand how natural it should be that Wizard of Oz composer Harold Arlen was the son of a cantor who incorporated “Over the Rainbow” into his Sabbath liturgy, and why Cole Porter—the rare non-Jew in this pantheon of musicians who wrote these classic songs shaped America even as America was shaping them.
Product Details
Hardcover (272 pages)
Published: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Schocken
ISBN: 9780805242508
Other books byDavid Lehman
  • New and Selected Poems

    New and Selected Poems
    Drawing from a wealth of material produced over the course of more than forty years, David Lehman’s New and Selected Poems displays the remarkable range of his poetic genius. A gathering of stunning new poems, prose poems, and translations from modern French masters ushers in the book. Selections from each of Lehman’s seven full-length books of poetry follow and are capped off by a coda of important early and previously uncollected works. Lehman writes poems that captivate as they stimulate thought, poems that capture the romance, irony, and pathos of love, and poems that are lyrical and lovely in unexpected, sometimes even comic ways. This is David Lehman at his best.

    The Best American Poetry 2013

    The Best American Poetry 2013
    OVER THE LAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, the Best American Poetry series has become an annual rite of autumn, eagerly awaited and hotly debated: “an essential purchase” (The Washington Post). This year, guest editor Denise Duhamel brings her wit and enthusiasm and her commitment to poetry in all its wide variety to bear on her choices for the 2013 edition of The Best American Poetry. Like her own vivacious, moving, and sometimes hilarious poems, bursting with energy and displaying an extraordinary dexterity, the acts of imagination included here testify to the vitality of the art in the United States today. Readers of The Best American Poetry 2013 will encounter such known stars as Kim Addonizio, Tony Hoagland, James Tate, and Mary Ruefle side by side with the rising voices of Nin Andrews, Bruce Bond, Anna Maria Hong, Timothy Donnelly, and Jericho Brown. This edition opens with David Lehman’s incisive “state of the art” essay and Denise Duhamel’s engagingly candid discussion of the seventy-five poems that made her final cut.

    Yeshiva Boys

    Yeshiva Boys
    Poems
    David Lehman, a poet of wit, ingenuity, and formidable skill, draws upon his heritage as a grandson of Holocaust victims and offers a stirring autobiographical collection of poems that is his most ambitious work to date. It covers an expansive range of subjects -- from love, sex, and romance to repentance, humility, the meaning of democracy, Existentialism, modern European history, military intelligence, and the rituals associated with faith and prayer. The title poem, "Yeshiva Boys," is a work in twelve parts that blends the elements of espionage fiction, memory, history, and moral philosophy. It reflects David's experience as a student in an orthodox Yeshiva, and it, along with many other poems in the book, explores what it means to be a Jew in America, what is gained and lost in assimilating to secular culture, how to understand the peculiar destiny of the Jewish people, and how to reconcile the existence of God with the knowledge of evil. Beautiful, provocative, and accessible, this is David Lehman's most inspired collection.

    The Evening Sun

    The Evening Sun
    A Journal in Poetry
    The eagerly awaited follow-up to his critically acclaimed collection The Daily Mirror, The Evening Sun gathers together 150 of David Lehman's favorite "daily poems" from 1999 and 2000 into a brilliant chronicle of a poet's heart and mind as the last century ends and a new one begins.

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