Today, we take a stroll down the Street of Lost Lyrics, which is littered, unfortunately, with the abandoned introductory lines of some of the greatest creations in the Great American Songbook.
Here, in quiz form, is my modest attempt to pick up some of those lines and briefly showcase them.
The timeless songs themselves live on in good health, driven in part by periodic “comebacks” through the likes of Rod Stewart’s four recent “Songbook” CDs and Linda Ronstadt’s 1983 album “What’s New” that keep introducing “the classics” to new audiences.
Admittedly, some of the song openings hold up better than others, but in the best cases, they set the mood and offer important context for what follows. The songs emerged from stage musicals or movies where the intros often helped propel the plot. Several of them offer beautifully phrased insights into a character or situation.
The quiz includes a couple of “gimmes” — and some really tough ones. (There’s also one that mentions Minnesota, and one with what appears to be unintentionally bad grammar. And I couldn’t help adding my favorite, “But Not for Me.”)
Whether you actually try the quiz or just browse through the list for pleasure, take the time to check out some of the links, which will connect you with some of our culture’s best songs and singers.
For the record, it wasn’t all that easy tracking down a version of each song that included the opening lines — which, I guess, proves my point that in many cases, those lyrics are fading from public memory.
And that’s a shame. Eventually, however, I was able to find them all, so enjoy.
(One caution: Don’t click on the videos or links until after you’ve finished the quiz because all of the answers are there for the listening.)
To take the quiz, just match the songs (listed in alphabetical order) with the song intros below.
You can check the answers here.
A. He’s a fool and don’t I know it
But a fool can have his charms
I’m in love and don’t I show it, like a babe in arms?
Love’s the same old sad sensation
Lately I’ve not slept a wink
Since this half-pint imitation put me on the blink . . .
B. When a star is born,
they possess a gift or two
One of them is this,
they have the power to make a wish come true . . .
C. This day and age we`re living in
Gives cause for apprehension
With speed and new invention
And things like third dimension
Yet we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein’s theory
So we must get down to earth at times
Relax, relieve the tension
And no matter what the progress
Or what may yet be proved
The simple facts of life are such
They cannot be removed . . .
D. We travel single-o,
Maybe we’re lucky, but I don’t know.
With them just let one kid fall down and seven mothers faint
I guess we’re both happy, but maybe we ain’t . . .
E. When you’re awake, the things you think
Come from the dreams you dream
Thought has wings, and lots of things
Are seldom what they seem
Sometimes you think you’ve lived before
All that you live today
Things you do come back to you
As though they knew the way.
Oh, the tricks your mind can play!
F. I expect everyone of my crowd to make fun
Of my proud protestations of faith in romance,
And they’ll say I’m naïve as a babe to believe
Every fable I hear from a person in pants.
Fearlessly I’ll face them and argue their doubts away,
Loudly I’ll sing about flowers in spring,
Flatly I’ll stand on my little flat feet and say
Love is a grand and a beautiful thing!
I’m not ashamed to reveal
The world famous feelin’ I feel.
G. Old Man Sunshine, listen, you,
Never tell me dreams come true,
Just try it, and I’ll start a riot.
Beatrice Fairfax, don’t you dare,
Ever tell me she will care,
It’s the final curtain.
Don’t want to hear from any cheerful Pollyannas,
Who tell me love will find a way, it’s all bananas . . .
H. On the first of May, it is moving day,
Spring is here, so blow your job,
Throw your job away!
Now’s the time to trust,
To your wanderlust,
In the city’s dust you wait, must you wait
Just you wait . . . !
I. What’s playing at the Roxy?
I’ll tell you what’s playing at the Roxy.
A picture about a Minnesota man falls in love with a Mississippi girl
That he sacrifices everything and moves all the way to Biloxi.
That’s what’s playing at the Roxy.
What’s in the daily news?
I’ll tell you what’s in the daily news.
Story about a man bought his wife a small ruby
With what otherwise would have been his union dues.
That’s what’s in the daily news.
What’s happening all over?
I’ll tell you what’s happening all over.
Guy sitting home by a television set
That used to be something of a rover.
That’s what’s happening all over.
Love is the thing that has licked ’em
And it looks like Nathan’s just another victim . . .
J. There’s a saying old, says that love is blind
Still we’re often told, “seek and ye shall find”
So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had in mind.
Looking everywhere, haven’t found him yet
He’s the big affair I cannot forget
Only man I ever think of with regret.
I’d like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?
K. (Spoken) It’s a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher,
By your pupils you’ll be taught.
(Singing) As a teacher I’ve been learning —
You’ll forgive me if I boast —
And I’ve now become an expert,
On the subject I like most . . .
L. Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating
You, you, you …
M. When I think of Tom.
I think about a night
When the earth smelled of summer
And the sky was streaked with white,
And the soft mist of England
Was sleeping on a hill —
I remember this,
And I always will . . .
There are new lovers now
On the same silent hill,
Looking on the same blue sea,
And I know Tom and I are a part of them all,
And they’re all a part of Tom and me.
N. I feel a sudden urge to sing
the kind of ditty that invokes the Spring
So, control your desire to curse
while I crucify the verse.
This verse I’ve started seems to me
the “Tin Pan-tithesis” of melody
So to spare you all the pain,
I’ll skip the darn thing and sing the refrain . . .
O. The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend
The world and all its capers and how it all will end.
Nothing seems to be lasting, but that isn’t our affair.
We’ve got something permanent,
I mean in the way we care.