Stardust Melodies

The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs

Publisher: Pantheon
In Stardust Melodies, Will Friedwald takes each of these legendary songs apart and puts it together again, with a staggering wealth of detail and unprecedented understanding.

Each chapter gives us an extended history of one song—the circumstances under which it was written and first performed—and then explores its musical and lyric content. Drawing on his vast knowledge of records and the careers of performing artists, Friedwald tells us who was responsible for making these songs famous and discusses in depth the performers who have left their unique marks on them. He writes about variations in performance style, about both classic and obscure versions of the songs, about brilliantly original interpretations and ghastly travesties. And then there’s the completely unexpected, like Stan Freberg’s politically correct “Elderly Man River.”

This is a book for all lovers of American song to explore, argue with, and savor.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 1

STAR DUST (1927)

music by Hoagy Carmichael
words by Mitchell Parish

Lucy is holding a saxophone. It turns out, as she informs friend Ethel Mertz, she's an amateur musician. Who knew? Lucy then blows into the mouthpiece and produces a few dyspeptic squawks. "It kind of sounds like '...
Read More