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Monday, May 1, 2023

In my opinion, and I do not think I am alone, the greatest composers, including lyricists, in the history of the American Musical Theatre were, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, Rogers and Hammerstein, Harold Arlen and Stephen Sondheim.


I also must add Kander and Ebb because there are few better scores than in “Cabaret” and “Chicago”. Tied for the gold in this category are Lerner and Lowe because “My Fair Lady “ is one of the all time greats, “Camelot” is better than it is given credit for and “Paint Your Wagon” (the show not the movie) maybe be one of the ten most underrated scores to ever be on Broadway.


Have there been great musicals written by others? Of course. However, I think the one most underrated, who as years go by will grow in stature is Jerry Herman. I give an honorable mention to Frank Loesser whose body of theatre music is skimpy, but just “Guys and Dolls” puts him in the Hall of Fame.


Of all my list of the best, only Porter and Berlin always wrote both the music and lyrics. Sondheim did so most, but not all the time.


However, it is Herman, a graduate of the University of Miami by the way, who is the focus of my comments here.


Herman wrote both the music and lyrics. Three shows, “Milk and Honey”, “The Grand Tour” and “Dear World” were good but not memorable and the score was, I would say, really above average but has no music that will be really lasting.

Everyone knows the songs “Hello Dolly” and “Mame” if for no other reason than that Louis Armstrong made huge hit records of each song. However, Herman wrote at least half a dozen truly great, full of heart, soul and pathos, which I rank among the best in all of musical theatre and for which Herman does not receive the credit he deserves.


The titles I have chosen are as follows:

1. “I Won’t Send Flowers” from Mack and Mabel

2. “If He Walked Into My Life” from Mame

3. “It Only Takes A Moment” from Hello Dolly

4. “Ribbons Down My Hair” from Hello Dolly

5. From Cage aux Folles

A. ”I Am What I Am”.

B. “Look Over There”.

C. “Song In The Sand”


These are just my personal favorites. They are really touching songs that almost always make me stop everything, reach for Kleenex and listen as carefully as I know how. There is some music that just gets to me. I cannot explain it, actually see no need to and few people I have met will take the time to really focus with me to share my enjoyment. Occasionally, I can get Barbara to stop multi-tasking and really tune in with me, but even great entertainers, and I know many, find it difficult to give what I am asking them to listen to, the due I think the music deserves. It is more their loss than mine, but sometimes I wish to share with others the pure joy of the music I love so much.


Thank you for listening. I hope I did not take too much of your time.

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Well over 40 years ago, our oldest son Charles had the first Bar Mitzvah in the history of our family. As part of my fatherly toast, I said “never go anywhere that does not have great Caesar salad. You may not like it or want to eat it, but it is a sign of civilization”.

If I gave that toast today, I would change Caesar salad to fresh oysters and then say that the best I have ever eaten anywhere in the world, including France, Croatia, and, yes New York, were in Walvis Bay, Nimibia. The fresh lemons were also better than anywhere including Sorrento, the home of Limoncello. Of course, South Africa is often rated as having the best oranges and tangelos in the world, but what I had yesterday was not to be believed, they were so good.

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Do either Haley or Scott really think they have a chance of being the Republican nominee in 2024? Now all we need is Lindsey Graham announcing so that South Carolina has three candidates. Two may already be a record but surely three should be.

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See you tomorrow. At least that is my plan.

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Go Ukraine

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