Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jerry Bock's Best Show

People are remembering Jerry Bock (who died today at 81) as the man who wrote the music for Fiddler on the Roof which is fine--it's surely one of the most durable and appealing of all Broadway shows.  But I cherish even more one of his earlier endeavors--the great Fiorello!, which opened on Broadway in 1959.  I'm too young to remember LaGuardia himself but I can still hear his voice on the old Ed Murrow I Can Hear it Now record, reading the Sunday Dick Tracy comic and saying (I quote from memory)--"Now this just goes to show you, children, that DIRTY MONEY NEVER DID ANY GOOD."   If anybody was made for Broadway it was he (will there ever be a musical about Michael Bloomnberg, I wonder?).  And I just about fell off my chair the first time I heard:
I can see Your Honor doesn't pull his punches
And it looks a trifle fishy, I'll admit,
But for one whole week I went without my lunches,
And it mounted up, your honor, bit by bit!
[Choral refrain: Up your honor bit by bit!]
Yes, I know: those are words, and Bock did the music.  But it was precisely the choral background that made the punchline work so well.

Fn, this seems to me my day for remembering smart, honest, reform-minded politicians.  The opening of Fiorello! pretty much coincides with that letter from Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

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