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The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin Hardcover – October 9, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
With "God Bless America" sung at every public event and Irving Berlin's name on the lips of every network anchor (Berlin wrote the anthem in 1938) there's bound to be new interest in The Complete Works of Irving Berlin. Editors Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet focus on Berlin's lyrics, of course, but also provide brief biographical vignettes in this oversized compendium. That the master of American music wrote alternative, humorous verses to what's now his most famous song ("God bless America/ Land I enjoy/ No discussions with the Russians/ Till they stop sending arms to Hanoi") is just one of the small but fascinating revelations. Illus.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Kimball, editor of the other volumes in the excellent "Complete Lyrics" series, and Emmet, Irving Berlin's second daughter, provide a valuable service by compiling all of Berlin's known lyrics to more than 1200 songs 400 of which have never before been printed. Especially welcome are the inclusion of this previously unpublished material, historical notes, and interspersed quotes from Berlin himself. One can trace Berlin's growth as a poet from his earliest teenage efforts through the glory years beginning with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911 to his last known writings shortly before his centenary. Musicals, revues, and movies featuring several songs get their own chapters within the chronological framework, while others are grouped within each year in copyright date order. The book also features attractive reproductions of sheet music covers and contemporary photographs as well as an index of titles and first lines (which would have been even more useful had the editors double-listed those beginning with a or the under the main first word). This title will provide hours of nostalgic browsing or reference help and is recommended for all collections. Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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That said, there can be no doubting the completeness, the care, the diligence that went into this collection (even if the phrase "No music is known to survive" gets a little tiresome), the obvious love and respect for this show-biz titan. Alas, perhaps the only way to appreciate his greatness is to go back in time to experience it, a further frustration of books like this.
It is a wonderful book from publisher Alfred A. Knopf titled "The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin," edited by Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet (one of the composer's three daughters). Now, considering that this man wrote well over a thousand songs, that is quite a bit of material for a single volume. But this one measures roughly 11" by 12" and holds 530 pages, which hold three columns of text. In this way, we get the lyrics to 1,200 songs for which he wrote both words and the music (only a few early songs were set to words by others).
The organization is chronological and intelligently packaged. Unlike Rodgers, Kern and Gershwin, Berlin wrote for Tin Pan Alley as well as for the stage. Therefore the editors have grouped the lyrics by "Songs" that were not intended for a specific show or film and by songs that were. So for 1914, for example, you will get all the independent songs composed that year in one chapter and those written for "Watch Your Step" the same year in a separate chapter. Even more welcome are the lyrics to many songs that were never published! It makes fascinating reading to surmise why these had to wait until this book came along to see the light of day.
To make this book even more valuable, each song is given a little preface concerning copyright dates and other items of interest to the American musical historian. And you will love the full-page photographs that stand at the start of each chapter. There is also an introductory essay and a very useful chronology at the start of the book, while the index at the end can help you locate in the body of the book any song by title with no trouble. So while Berlin's lyrics might not be as clever as those of Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart or Ira Gershwin, many of them will bring back memories of how Americans felt almost from the start to the finish of the last century.
(Take note. Knopf also has available similar tomes for the lyrics of Porter, Hart, and I. Gershwin. Each one is a definite Grabbit.