New charity album, I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind: A Tribute to Leiber & Stoller, released!
The coolest thing just happened to us, and we thought you’d want to know about it. Our Belgian friends at the Waama Project and 62TV Records—whom we’d never met, nor even heard of—have just recorded a tribute album to Leiber & Stoller as a benefit for the primary school run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeus in the village of Waama, Tanzania. (Before you ask: We had heard of Tanzania.)
The album is called I Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind (a zircon-encrusted no-prize to whoever identifies the source of that line), available on vinyl and CD in one limited edition deluxe gatefold package by sending €15 per copy plus €13 shipping for 1-2 copies (US and Europe) to firstname.lastname@example.org via Paypal; or as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon, or wherever fine MP3 are sold.
I grant you, they were all as familiar to us as Waama, but we’re thrilled to make their acquaintance, and you will be, too—especially when you hear their takes on songs ranging from “Poison Ivy” and “There Goes My Baby” to “Hey Sexy” and “What To Do With Laurie?”
Now, if you will allow me my Sally Struthers Moment™: You can actually help educate, and thus empower, impoverished children in Tanzania just by buying this record—which you probably want to buy, anyway, because it’s that awesome. So please, look into your hearts, reach into your wallets, and let the awesomeness begin!
Steve Tyrell and Mike Stoller are sending a
musical valentine to the city of Charlotte, NC.
Mike Stoller has gone solo! Stoller penned the music and lyrics to his new song, “Charlotte,” at the request of Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte, NC. The song has just been recorded by the popular American jazz musician and Grammy Award-winning singer and producer, Concord Records recording artist Steve Tyrell, whose eight American standards albums have all achieved Top 5 status on Billboard’s Jazz charts.
Mike Stoller says, “My new song, ‘Charlotte,’ celebrates the city of Charlotte, NC, much like the song ‘Kansas City’—which my late songwriting partner, Jerry Leiber, and I wrote back in 1952—celebrates the city of Kansas City, MO. This is the first song for which I have written both the music and the lyrics.”
Steve Tyrell says, “I've admired Mike Stoller all my days in the music business. The recordings he and Jerry Leiber made with Ben E. King and The Drifters changed my life. Working on Mike’s first solo song, the beautiful ‘Charlotte,’ is the greatest honor.”
The People in the Picture
2011 Tony Award nomination:
Original Cast Album Available Now from Kritzerland Records!
Praise for the cast album:
“The instrumental prologue pulled me in with disarming, instantly evocative and wistful mood set, like a motion picture score’s theme that economically establishes time and place. Settle back? Not on your life! We’re off and running to the delightful (but with an edge) troupe’s briskly bouncy anthem, ‘Bread and Theater.’ This lively number—like most of the score—has music by Mike Stoller, most celebrated for rock and roll classics written with Jerry Leiber, though they wrote some more sophisticated, thoughtful cabaret numbers recorded by Peggy Lee and others. Donna Murphy nobly anchors the show; her solo, ‘Selective Memory,’ is the score’s highlight. Veterans Chip Zien and Lewis J. Stadlen are well-cast bright lights, delivering such songs as ‘Remember Who You Are’ with savvy show biz flair. And it’s reliably expert Paul Gemignani at the helm with the orchestra. While our eyes are intentionally diverted by musical splash and mayhem, we’re forced to look at the real open wounds and woes, too, and nothing can gloss over grief and the ugliness of World War II’s upheavals, aftermath, and Antisemitism. The People in the Picture posits that the less killable human spirit can remain very much in the picture, too. There are tasty treats and tidbits in this Kosher meal, and that napkin may come in handy to wipe away some genuinely induced tears.” —Rob Lester, “Sound Advice,” Talkin’ Broadway
Praise for the Broadway production:
“A MUSICAL HOME RUN! In The People in the Picture, Donna Murphy shows us the finest musical acting I’ve ever experienced. Iris Rainer Dart’s book is strong throughout. Mike Stoller and Artie Butler have created a terrific score. But, in the end, The People in the Picture is Donna Murphy’s show. Her layered portrayal of Raisel—sometimes loveable, sometimes hateful—is mesmerizing. It may well go down as her masterpiece. The People in the Picture captured me when Raisel says of her granddaughter, Jenny: ‘She’s living proof that Hitler failed.’ Lovelier than that, it doesn’t get. **** (Four Stars)” —Timothy Childs, iBlogBroadway
“The greatest and most profound reaction to The Holocaust has been the extraordinary outpouring of art that has attempted to come to terms with this horrible event. Iris Rainer Dart’s, Mike Stoller’s, and Artie Butler’s heart-stopping new musical, The People in the Picture, asks us to take a hard look at the suffering and the loss that resulted from this tragedy—and it moves us deeply in the process. The triumph of The People in the Picture is that the show insists upon—and earns—heroic stature for even small gestures of humanity. As The People in the Picture aptly displays, talent is sometimes all artists have left—and talent is very much on display in this taut, penetrating show.” —Barbara & Scott Siegel, TheaterMania
“An unbelievably powerful look at the history we create and destroy, and the lives that are shattered or strengthened in our wakes. As the layers of Raisel’s deceit and Red’s anger begin falling away, they reveal a tale of such loss, pain, and tragedy, yet one informed with explosive and inspirational life, that you cannot pry your eyes from their struggle. Through songs and dialogue that challenge both the path of the past and the direction of the future, and force everyone to re-examine their prejudices about right and wrong as applied to others and themselves, The People in the Picture becomes an achingly affecting antidote to the plethora of recent musicals, from this season and others, that throw everything at you except honesty. Murphy moves seamlessly back and forth between Raisel in her mid-80s to her mid 30s, and from the spitting-good-fun of the resilient and mocking ‘Ich, Uch, Feh’ to the crippling regret of ‘Child of My Child’ and the searing longing of ‘Selective Memory.’ That last song, by the way, is the finest new show tune of the season, blessed with a simple romantic melody and an even more elemental sentiment: Whatever events may fade from our minds, we somehow remember the people and things that matter most … unforgettable.” —Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway
“Gorgeously staged songs include ‘Saying Goodbye,’ in which four women across generations heartbreakingly sing about motherhood, and ‘Matryoshka,’ in which grandmother and granddaughter sing over Russian nesting dolls. Dart, the playwright, gets full credit for conceiving of a cute way to have one generation talk to its descendants and has movingly captured an unconventional history lesson into a musical.” —Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
“Murphy slips back and forth with fluidity and authority between playing an ailing yet still feisty old woman and her tough-minded younger self. She’s one of musical theater’s most dramatically nuanced performers. Whether she’s clowning around as the ‘Dancing Dybbuk’ or reflecting on the cruel tricks of an enfeebled mind in the melancholy ‘Selective Memory,’ she endows the show with a central life force.” —David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“In the show’s best song, ‘Selective Memory,’ a number about fading recollection and lost love, Ms. Murphy manages to be both Raisel and Bubbie in one breath. The old woman and her younger self truly coexist in the same slender body, and you believe equally that this woman could either collapse into ashes or soar toward the sun.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times
“Honest emotions are quietly played and the initial impact is shattering. Fortunately, the score—featuring flavorful music by the legendary Mike Stoller (of Leiber and Stoller fame) and Artie Butler and amusing lyrics by Dart—doesn’t hit us over the head.” —David Sheward, Backstage
“In Donna Murphy, the creators have a shimmering star who can play a tender, doting grandma and yet evoke Carole Lombard, that irresistible mix of winks and minx. Leonard Foglia’s hyperactive production is lovely, and the cast couldn’t be bettered.” —Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg
“Murphy plays the aged Bubbie extremely well, and in a flashback—playing a young girl whose body is inhabited by a Dybbuk (devil) while surrounded by four dancing rabbis—seems to channel Fanny Brice. The star is so good and so funny … and [sings] one effective, especially dramatic ballad (‘Selective Memory’).” —Steven Suskin, Variety
“Iris Dart has written a show for multi-generations. It’s a show parents should bring their kids to and then discuss their own family history with them. It’s a show for those of us who lost their grandparents or parents and remember the history/legacy they have left and have instilled inside of us. The People In The Picture is a show about the importance of laughter, especially during rough times, learning about where you came from, and keeping the legacy of those who came before you going. Keep the legacy of this show—and yours—going by taking someone you love to The People In The Picture.” — Adam Rothenberg, Adaumbelle’s Quest
April 25, 1933 - August 22, 2011
Jerry Leiber—lyricist supreme, rakish raconteur, a penetrating gleam in his perfectly mismatched eyes—was a man of rare brilliance and vitality. Via (sometimes punishingly) high expectations and correspondingly enthusiastic encouragement, he infused those around him with brilliance and vitality as well. His unlikely creative soulmate, Mike Stoller, didn’t want to be a songwriter: Jerry talked him into it. Sixty-one years later, I’m thinkin’: must’ve been one hell of a talk. Thus began a long list of things Jerry talked Mike into (and at least as long a list of things Mike talked Jerry out of). It was a remarkably effective working method.
Along the way, Jerry repaid his good fortune by helping to elevate other good songwriters—and their songs—into great ones. For the rest who followed, Jerry set a high bar at which to aim, if never to reach. Jerry’s balance of natural talent and hard-won craftsmanship, of lightning wit and serious purpose, of compact form and complex content, made him not just the quintessential rock & roll lyricist, but the quintessential lyricist, period. In the history of popular songwriting, he has few equals; no superiors. In the history of friends, likewise.
Jerry Leiber passed quickly and with minimum discomfort, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his three sons, Jed, Oliver, and Jake, and his two granddaughters, Chloe and Daphne. You can honor his memory by committing your life to excellence and joy. Of course, Jerry would never have said anything like that. He would have said:
“Let’s break out the booze, and have a ball…”
That works, too. L’chaim, Unca Jer.
Jerry Leiber was laid to rest at Hillside Memorial Park & Mortuary in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 25, 2011. The Leiber family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one or more of the following organizations:
|“The golden days of rock ’n’ roll flit by in this sprightly memoir by the celebrated songwriting duo…. As arranged by collaborator Ritz, the authors harmonize well in their alternating reminiscences; Stoller is the more reflective one, while the best anecdotes belong to the brash Leiber, who was challenged to a drag race by James Dean, choked by Norman Mailer, and forced to trade his car for a pair of shoes … vignettes from pop music’s giddy youth, short and sweet and catchy.”
|“A revealing, accessible career overview of two of rock ’n’ roll’s primary architects. With conversational prose as rhythmic as the music and language in their well-known compositions, Leiber and Stoller continue their creative partnership in this collaborative autobiography. The songwriting giants behind hits like ‘Hound Dog,’ ‘Poison Ivy,’ ‘Yakety Yak,’ and ‘Love Potion No. 9’ trade remembrances and anecdotes in a call-and-response reflection…. Informative and opinionated—a treasure trove for fans of rock music.”|
—Scott Liang, Kirkus Reviews
|“Here is a book the world has needed for many decades—Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s own story in well-arranged, wildly readable words. Short, punchy, as irresistible as a Leiber/Stoller song. … It’s hard to pick my favorite story from the typhoon of them blowing through Hound Dog, one of the indispensable books of 2009 as well as one of the most rollickingly pleasurable. … Yet another Leiber and Stoller product that may be destined for an entirely unforeseen and insanely long life.”
—Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
|“…one of the greatest songwriting teams in pop history finally tells its story…. Two guys, joined at the hip … found they had a gift for collaboration, which is different from a gift for getting along…. This might explain the shape of Hound Dog—the book moves back and forth between Leiber and Stoller’s voices, in passages that read like casual conversation taken down and massaged into print…. Their narratives veer off in different directions, they don’t sound anything alike, but together they come up with one of the more breezily entertaining music books in years.”|
—RJ Smith, The Los Angeles Times
|“Like their best songs, Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography is short, snappy, colorful, funny, a little rude—and you might even be able to dance to it. … If you want to know why Peggy Lee was a handful, Edith Piaf was a genius, Sinatra was their idol, Elvis was cool, his manager Colonel Tom Parker was a jerk, and how Leiber got out of racing James Dean in his fateful and fatal Porsche—or how neither of them got out of giving their hit record label to the Mafia—well, you’ll have to read the book.”
—Steven Gaydos, Variety
|“…a pull-up-a-chair sort of book, a dual first-person telling from a pair together so long they complete each other’s thoughts … Hound Dog stands as a compelling piece of oral history.”|
—Michael E. Young, The Dallas Morning News
“Leiber and Stoller were among the pioneers who helped bring black and white musical forms together. … Hound Dog is an important part of that story.”
—Jim Windolf, The New York Times
|“Leiber and Stoller? There would be no rock and roll without them.”|