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A Centennial Tribute To
Frank Loesser

born: New York, New York, June 29,1910

died: New York, New York, July 26, 1969


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Centennial Celebration

Frank Loesser Song Hits

Frank Loesser Concert

Recommended Books and CDs

YouTube Video Clips of Frank Loesser Songs

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Centennial Celebration


As with Johnny Mercer, whose centennial was celebrated in 2009, Frank Loesser was known as both a lyricist and a composer. In other words,he was a well rounded songwriter from the Golden Age of Popular Song.

Frank Loesser had a long and productive career beginning in the 1930s.

In his wonderful book, They're Playing Our Song, Max Wilk wrote these perceptive comments about him:

Loesser's first published song was written in 1931, in collaboration with William Schuman. It was called "In Love With a Memory of You." "I gave Frank his first flop," says Schuman, "and, really, the only song flop he ever had. You can't be condescending about musical genius. He was one of the greatest songwriters the United States ever produced."

The songs that Loesser wrote in pre-World War II Hollywood years are remarkable for their strength. The ordinary idea, the shortcut, the triumph of technique to cover the absence of an idea -- none of that for Loesser. He was on the prowl for a brighter notion, a stronger line. Certainly he could turn out an "I've Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" -- that was part of the job. For Betty Hutton he could write dynamite material -- "Poppa, Don't Preach to Me" and "He Says Murder, He Says." And he was already coming up with such gems as "I'd Like to Get You on a Slow Boat to China."

But listen to his ballads -- the haunting "Sand in My Shoes" or "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," "Let's Get Lost," "I Wish I Didn't Love You So," or "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" They reveal the deep strain of romanticism that underpinned his later work.

If I may add a personal note here...

I've always enjoyed the enormous energy of Betty Hutton's singing. One day, on Turner Classic Movies, I watched her in THE PERILS OF PAULINE and listened to her singing of "I Wish I Didn't Love You So." I was very moved by it. What a beautiful song and sung with so much feeling! The record was a million-seller for Betty Hutton in 1947. I believe it is one of Frank Loesser's most beautiful song lyrics. Yet, this beautiful song is not included on the list of his songs on the official Frank Loesser site.

Among the many Loesser song favorites here are a few of mine: "Baby, It's Cold Oustide";"Jingle, Jangle, Jingle; "Fugue for Tinhorns"; and "Standing on the Corner."

In this centennial year of his birth I hope people will remember Loesser's terrific songs -- he reportedly wrote over 1200 of them!

So, we can say with pleasure about Frank Loesser's long and productive career:

"I hear music, mighty fine music!"

-- Roger Lee Hall

Frank Loesser Songs


Most of his best known songs were featured in stage works and movies. Others were hit records by singers like Helen Forrest, and instrumentalists, like Kay Kyser and His Orchestra.

Here is a list of twenty representative Frank Loesser songs
(words & music unless otherwise credited):

Broadway Hit Shows

"Once In Love With Amy"
(from WHERE'S CHARLEY, 1948 --
introduced by Ray Bolger)

"Fugue For Tinhorns"
(from GUYS AND DOLLS, 1950)

"Luck Be A Lady"
1955 film version sung by Marlon Brando --
No. 42 on the list of Top 100 Movie Songs
from The American Film Institute )


"Joey, Joey, Joey"
(introduced by Art Lund )

"Somebody, Somewhere"
(introduced by Jo Sullivan)

"Standing On The Corner"
(hit record by The Four Lads)



"I Believe In You"
(introduced by Robert Morse )



Songs For Movies

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Oscar-winning song for 1949 -
hit record by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer;
also Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, and other singers)

"I Don't Want To Walk Without You"
(FILM: SWEATER GIRL, 1942 -- music by Jule Styne,
No. 1 hit record by Harry James with Helen Forrest, vocal)

"I Wish I Didn't Love You So"
introduced by Betty Hutton)

"Jingle, Jangle, Jingle"
music by Joseph J. Lilley -- hit record by
The Merry Macs; also by Gene Autry, Tex Ritter and others)

"Murder, He Says"
(Film: HAPPY GO LUCKY, 1943,
music by Jimmy McHugh --
introduced by Betty Hutton)

"No Two People"
introduced by Danny Kaye and Jane Wyman/
hit record by Doris Day and Donald O'Connor )

"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year"
introduced by Deanna Durbin)

"They're Either Too Young or Too Old"
music by Arthur Schwartz -- introduced by Bette Davis)



Other Hit Songs

"Heart And Soul"
(music by Hoagy Carmichael, 1938 --
introduced by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra
with Bea Wain, vocal)

"I Hear Music"
(music by Burton Lane, 1940 --
recorded by Billie Holiday and others)

"On A Slow Boat To China" (1948 --
hit records by Kay Kyser, Freddy Martin, Eddy Howard,
Benny Goodman, and others)

"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition"
(1942 -- million-selling record for
Kay Kyser with vocal by The Glee Club)

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
(1947 -- introduced by Margaret Whiting)



Frank Loesser Concert

An outstanding ensemble of musicians (Valerie Anastasio, soprano; Mary Ann Lanier, soprano; Heather Peterson, mezzo-soprano; Robert Humphreville, pianist) presented another in the popular song concert series known by the name of "American Classics." It's was great collection of Loesser songs with perceptive narratives given by Mary Ann Lanier.

They paid tribute to the centennial of Frank Loesser's birth in a concert titled, "Luck Be A Lady" at these locations:

Friday, November 12, 7:30 p.m.
Follen Communioty Church
755 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, Massachusetts

Saturday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
Pickman Concert Hall
Longy School of Music
27 Garden Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts

More information about their current season is found at:

American Classics


Recommended Books and CDs




A Most Remarkable Fella:
Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life
By Susan Loesser (paperback)



The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser

The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser
By Robert Kimball and Steve Nelson





They're Playing Our Song:
Conversations With America's
Classic Songwriters
By Max Wilk (paperback)



Evening With Frank Loesser

An Evening With Frank Loesser




Sings His Own Songs

Frank Sings Loesser




Salute to Frank Loesser

Loessser By Loesser:
A Salute To Frank Loesser



American Songbook Series: Frank Loesser




YouTube Video Clips

Heart & Soul - The Life and Music of Frank Loesser

"Fugue For Tinhorns" - 1955 soundtrack

"Heat and Soul" - sung by Bea Wain (1939)

"I Wish I Didn't Love You So" - sung by Betty Hutton (1947)

"Murder, He Says" - sung by Betty hutton (1943)

"Once in Love with Amy" - sung by Ray Bolger (1952 soundtrack)


Are you interested in scheduling an entertaining and informative program about American popular songs for your group?

Then look at

Lectures and Workshops



Another centennial tribute...


"Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive"
Johnny Mercer in Hollywood

Links for popular songs and songwriters:



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