Song of the Day, December 11: Speak Low by Jo Stafford

StaffordSpeakToday’s song is Speak Low. It was written in 1943 for the musical One Touch of Venus, composed by the somewhat unlikely duo of Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash. Composer Weill is best known for his work with Bertolt Brecht, creating scathing musical works of social commentary in Weimar era Germany. Nash was a much-loved poet known for his light verse, puns, and quirky sense of meter. The song they crafted together draws on both of their strengths. Nash’s lyrics mix his fondness for wordplay with an unexpected knack for building romantic tension. Weill provides a perfect musical backdrop, starting quietly and swelling with the intensity of feeling. Over the years the song has become a standard, covered by dozens of artists.

Jo Stafford included one of the finest versions of Speak Low on her album Swingin’ Down Broadway and repurposed it a few years later for her amazing career retrospective The Big Band Sound. Her flawless sense of pitch and rhythm make the most of both writers’ contributions to the song.

Enjoy this wonderful song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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