As we enter week three of our "I-Heart-Hart-Fest," some of you might be wondering, "What's the big deal about this Hart guy?" Well, I am here to tell you that it's all about word choice and rhythm. Lorenz Hart was a master of both. His genius lay in the way he built very intricate rhyme structures out of seemingly simple words that nestled perfectly into the music or tap-danced straight across it, depending on the needs of the song. This week's selection is an excellent example of Hart's percussive use of language, as well as his ability to delineate character--giving us, in just a few lines, a sense of the singer and setting of the song.
The Blue Room (not to be confused with Blue Moon, which Rodgers and Hart also wrote) was written for the 1926 musical The Girl Friend. The show was a hit, running on Broadway for 301 performances. The reviewer for the New York American wrote at the time: "This WAS music, instead of molasses. There was a ditty called The Blue Room which should be sung to exhaustion."
Waiting for inspiration to strike.
Hart listens intently, pencil in hand, as Rodgers plays in the background.
Although it is not one of their better known songs, the words to The Blue Room are charming, and display magnificently Hart's knack for a lilting lyrical tempo and instant characterization. Instead of your basic ABAB or AABB rhyme scheme, The Blue Room starts out with two sets of AAABC rhymed lines, followed by two couplets (AA), then finishes with a unique ABBAA sign-off.
Creating sophisticated rhyme schemes that come across as simple is not a tiny gift. Perhaps such things can be learned to an extent, but Hart was born with it. It's an almost savant-like ability, writing lyrics like this. Take a look:
The Blue Room
lyrics by Lorenz Hart
We'll have a blue room,
A new room,
For two room,
Where ev'ry day's a holiday
Because you're married to me.
Not like a ballroom,
A small room,
A hall room,
Where I can smoke my pipe away
With your wee head upon my knee.
We will thrive on,
Keep alive on,
Just nothing but kisses,
With Mister and Missus
On little blue chairs.
You sew your trusseau,
And Robinson Crusoe
Is not so far from worldly cares
As our blue room far away upstairs.
Sheet music for The Blue Room, from MGM's 1948 film Words and Music, a highly fictionalized biopic of Rodgers and Hart. Hart was played by Mickey Rooney (presumably because of the height thing). There are some outstanding musical numbers in the film, including a performance of The Blue Room, which Perry Como sings to Cyd Charisse.
Now listen to it! Click here to go to our Freegal page, where you can download a snazzy version of The Blue Room, sung by one Mr. Bing Crosby.