U and V

UNCLE HARRY

ORIGIN:
USE:

SOURCE:


NOTES:

























DISCOGRAPHY:

January 1944, Jamaica
Wartime troop concerts, etc;
Then interpolated into Pacific 1860, 1946 (to liven the show up a bit)
VS P1860
SA2
NCG2
NC had had a real Uncle Harry. He tells the story of the song’s emergence during his first, convalescent, visit to Jamaica: “The creative urge, seldom long in abeyance, reared its sprightly head again and I wrote a song called ‘Uncle Harry’. It was a gay song and I hammered it out interminably on Florence [Reed]’s piano until it was so firmly stamped on my memory that I knew I couldn’t forget it. I don’t suppose … the staff have forgotten it either.” (NCA p.461) In fact, reference to unpublished bits of the Noel Coward Diaries shows that idea of the song first emerged during a car journey before he had even left the USA, on January 11th; but that on Jan. 14th, in Jamaica, he “finished both music and words and typed it.” Norman Hackforth had a clear recollection of this song having been new and needing to be written down, early on during his time with NC in March 1944 in South Africa.
This is a mature narrative comedy song, so well known, and so typical of the Coward comedy style, that it seems superfluous to describe it. I suppose that in its subject-matter it may now feel a little dated; but the lack of recommended modern performances (see below) is not so much due to lack of recordings as due to lack of quality in the majority. Is it really such a difficult song to perform well?
The printed sheet-music is not to be relied on for performance. Apart from anything else it omits the repeated final refrain sections (“Poor Uncle Harry, after a chat with dear Aunt Mary…” and “Poor dear Aunt Mary, though it was revolutionary…”), without which the song is nonsensical. NCR 27 preserves some early alternative lyrics.
The song is currently among the top thirty Coward numbers in terms of royalties (see Appendix 3).
NCR 27: pno. acc. Norman Hackforth (1944)
OCR 13: Graham Payn + orch. (1946)
NCR 29: + Drury Lane orch. cond. Mantovani (Jan 1947)
NCR 30: + orch. cond. Mantovani (Jun 1947)
NCR 37: + Wally Stott orch. acc. Hackforth (1954)
NCR 38: + C. Hayes Orch., acc. Peter Matz (Jun 1955)
OCR 16: NC+orch. acc.Matz (Together With Music Oct1955)
ONR 30: Peter Grenwell (1995)

UP GIRLS AND AT 'EM
See BRITANNIA RULES THE WAVES

URSULINE
See Appendix 1.b

USEFUL PHRASES
(USELESS USEFUL PHRASES)

ORIGIN:
USE:
SOURCE:
NOTES:



















DISCOGRAPHY:

1960
Sail Away 1961 (Elaine Stritch)
VS CC
A lyric fragment of this song survives among the notes of numbers intended for Later Than Spring. A strange forerunner to this piece, perhaps an unconscious inspiration, is 'English Lesson', Music No.8 from Conversation Piece (1934).
This is an unusual and idiosyncratic comedy song whose refrain breaks all the rules. The Verse section is a complex and entertaining jumble of elegant interior and line-end rhymes in a sort of parlando style. (I particularly enjoy “The gutteral wheeze of the Potugese/ Filled the brains of the Danes with horror/ And verbs, not lust, caused the final bust/ In Sodom and Gomorrah”.) You need something elegantly rhyming to go in front of the Refrain, which makes a feature of juxtaposing unrelated phrases of language as if from a phrase-book, while hanging onto the vestiges of form by making sure the main two pairs of lines have rhyming end words.
Rather like ‘Marvellous Party’, this is a song where the refrain, at least, requires an emphatically spoken approach, and the accompaniment is little more than a chordal prop for the words. It is very much an actor’s song, and some of the nonsensical ‘phrases’ are made funny only by fine “businesss” such as a suggestive pout or raised eyebrow. Peter Greenwell (ONR 25) is very good in this, and Stritch wonderfully acerbic on OCR 18.
NCR 43: + pno.acc. ?Werner (Apr 1961)
OCR 18: Elaine Stritch (Oct 1961)
NCR 45: + orch./acc. Peter Matz (Dec 1961)
OCR 19: Elaine Stritch (1962)
ONR 25: Peter Greenwell (1994)

VALSE (also POLKA)
See TEACH ME TO DANCE LIKE GRANDMA

VELASQUEZ
(PORTRAIT OF A LADY?)

ORIGIN:
USE:
SOURCE:

(possible origins in the 1920's)
Set To Music, 1938 (USA)
MUSIC LOST
M&M (p.114) tell us that this was a musical item, and a review in the New Yorker referred to this item as "a long song introducing a pretty but tedious dance". BD (p.198) thinks It is likely that the original title of this song was PORTRAIT OF A LADY, by which title NC himself referred to it on a lyric MS. As Velazquez was a portrait painter, the connection seems obvious. No lyric under the title 'Velazquez' exists in any archive.

VENICE
See Appendix 1.c

VICARAGE DANCE (THE)
See Appendix 1.e

VIOLET SELLER'S SONG
See Appendix 1.e

VIOLETS
See Appendix 1.b

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