Monday, December 19, 2011

Music Monday ~ Paul Francis Webster, Award-winning Lyricist

Paul Francis Webster (yes, I heard you say: "Who?") was born this week in 1907 - on 20 December, in New York City. His name may be obscure but his songs will not be - at least to those of us old enough to recall the movies many of them embellished. He was one of Hollywood's famous lyricists, winner of three Academy Awards, wrote the lyrics for more than 500 songs, received 16 Academy Award nominations, earned 20 gold records and numerous other awards. He was elected to the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1972.

(Image from Amazon's website HERE)
After dropping out of NYU, he set sail for Asia as a merchant seaman, and upon returning to the U.S. worked as a dance instructor; in 1932, Webster teamed with composer John Jacob Loeb to score his first hit, Masquerade. In 1935, he went to Hollywood under contract with Twentieth Century Fox with the intent to write for Shirley Temple films. Soon after, he became a freelance writer. In 1941 he collaborated with Duke Ellington for the hit song I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good). Over the years he collaborated with numerous well-known composers.
See All and Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

His 3 award winning songs:

Secret Love - Calamity Jane(1953);
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) movie of the same name;
The Shadow of Your Smile - The Sandpiper (1965).

There were also nominations for (among others):

Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)" (1956)
April Love" (1957)
A Certain Smile (1958)
A Very Precious Love (1958)
The Green Leaves of Summer (1960)
Love Theme From El Cid (The Falcon and the Dove) (1961)
Tender Is the Night (1962)
Love Song From Mutiny on the Bounty (Follow Me) (1962)


I trawled through a long list of Mr. Webster's compositions at Database of Popular Music to discover whether he had penned any Christmas songs. He had - I found four: Merry Christmas Polka, My Kind of Christmas, Sounds of Christmas and, best known, but not mentioning the word "Christmas": Wonderful Season of Love, theme for the 1961 movie Return to Peyton Place


The chart shown is set for 12 noon as birth time isn't known. Rising sign would likely not be as shown. Moon would have been somewhere between 2 and 14 degrees of Cancer.

Moon in its sign of rulership, sensitive, emotional Cancer is key to this man's natal chart, and more especially because it would, almost certainly, have been close enough to conjoin Neptune, planet of creativity. Moon and Neptune together in Cancer give us this songwriter's astro-signature!

Mercury (the writer's planet) in Sagittarius and Jupiter (planet of publication) in Leo are in close harmonious trine, reflecting the way his work has been communicated to the masses, again and again.

In these days of hip-hop, rap and over-produced electro-mayhem these songs surely seem sugary and outdated, yet the poetry and sentiments in them really are timeless. I see them in the same way I would look at a big yummy slice of my Grandma's best chocolate cake - wonderful to savour, mustn't over-indulge, but the taste never goes out of fashion.


I like Blossom Dearie's version of Shadow of Your Smile (lyrics shine through, it's not overpowered by "bandzilla" as are so many recordings by the usual crooners). Music was written by Johhny Mandel.

And 2 for the Season~~

Merry Christmas Polka - lyrics Paul Frances Webster music by Sonny Burke, sung by the Andrews Sisters.
And The Wonderful Season of Love by Paul Francis Webster, music by Franz Waxman composed for the movie Return to Peyton Place, it is sung here by Rosemary Clooney then wife of the movie's director José Ferrer.


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh you are such a rescuer of the obscure, T!
Being a fan of old movies I am thrilled with this post!
Love the oldies.

JD said...

ha ha ha!!!
Merry Christmas Polka
I'm going to steal that for our merry music selection over on Nourishing Obscurity


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Glad you enjoyed it, WWW!

I'm always very annoyed when songwriters don't receive proper credit.

I got a warning (still don't know from whom) for something I posted, with full credit to the writer, yet there are videos all over YouTube crediting singers but not composers. Something sadly wrong somewhere!

(Grumble grumble ...)

Twilight said...

JD ~~~Good! It's a lesser known one for those times when the ubiquitous annually aired Christmas songs start to pall.
PS -Don't let James see it - he might find hidden dark meanings in the content. (wink wink).

Twilight said...
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