Nice Work If You Can Get It: My Life in Rhythm and Rhyme

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One of the most popular interpreters of the classic American song is also a real writer, as evidenced by Michael Feinstein's spirited, witty, enormously entertaining book about his love affair with Tin Pan Alley. In his early twenties Feinstein moved to Los Angeles and through Oscar Levant's widow, June, was introduced to one of his idols, Ira Gershwin. For the next six years he immersed himself in the world of the Gershwins - Ira and the living memory of his brother George - cataloguing records, music, and ...
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Overview

One of the most popular interpreters of the classic American song is also a real writer, as evidenced by Michael Feinstein's spirited, witty, enormously entertaining book about his love affair with Tin Pan Alley. In his early twenties Feinstein moved to Los Angeles and through Oscar Levant's widow, June, was introduced to one of his idols, Ira Gershwin. For the next six years he immersed himself in the world of the Gershwins - Ira and the living memory of his brother George - cataloguing records, music, and memorabilia, and in the process discovering his true calling: ensuring the continued vitality of the American popular song. Nice Work If You Can Get It chronicles not only Feinstein's appreciation of the Gershwins, but also of Cole Porter, Harry Warren (42nd Street), Sammy Cahn, and Irving Berlin. Tommy Tune, Liza Minnelli, Rosemary Clooney, and other musical luminaries also make appearances in a volume full of anecdotes about every major figure in American musical theater and cabaret, with a firm grounding in the art of songwriting itself.

America's most beloved cabaret artist tells his own story. As a starstruck 20-year-old, Feinstein lit out for L.A., and became the protege, friend, and keeper of the flame for Ira Gershwin--a relationship that propelled him into performing. Here are his thoughts on the Gershwins, as well as explorations of many other artists of the era, from Berlin to Porter. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1977, Feinstein, who had since childhood been a passionate collector of records, sheet music and other material relating to classic American popular music, went to work for Ira Gershwin, cataloguing his private collection of rare recordings. This led to a close relationship with the aged lyricist during which he acted as the older man's archivist and formed a friendship that lasted until Gershwin's death in 1983. In his entertaining book, Feinstein tells of those years, his reverence for Gershwin and his subsequent career as a cabaret artist specializing in the interpretation of the music of the Gershwins and other American songwriters. He includes the story of the 1982 discovery, in a warehouse in Secaucus, N.J., of a cache of unpublished music manuscripts that included works by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and Jerome Kern. Feinstein also relates the saga of his friend Harry Warren, a prolific songwriter who suffered lack of name recognition; and he offers a chapter on the art of writing song lyrics and a description of life as a piano-bar performer. Feinstein's enthusiasm for the music of the golden age of American popular songwriting is infectious. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Prior to emerging as a popular tuxedoed cabaret artist, Feinstein worked as Ira Gershwin's personal archivist. This book affords a fascinating glimpse into the bizarre Gershwin household late in Ira's life. We get a picture of Ira as a sweet, insecure, and weary old man, still obsessed with, and devoted to, his more famous, long-dead brother George. Ira's wife, Leonore, appears as a pill-popping and manipulative former flapper. It is strange that in this work, ostensibly an autobiography, we learn far more about the Gershwin family than about the author. Still, Feinstein's love of the American songbook is evident, and even if he is cagey about his personal life, the book is literally stuffed with interesting anecdotes about Harry Warren (for whom he also worked briefly), Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Irving Caesar, and others. And there is an insightful chapter on the art of writing and singing lyrics. Recommended for public libraries.-Michael Colby, Univ. of California, Davis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756782443
  • Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 406

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