Recalling being awakened once in the middle of the night by the beautiful Nat Cole recording of StarDust, my neighbor, Joe, asked if I could do it as a weekly tune.
Written in 1929 by Hoagy Carmichael, with lyrics by Mitchell Parrish, StarDust may be the single most recorded American standard and its popularity is well earned. It boasts one of the great opening verses in the genre, then a beautiful refrain, nice chords throughout and beautifully wistful lyrics by Parrish (who in a similarly lush vein, wrote the lyrics to Deep Purple). There was nothing wrong with this in 1929 and there still isn’t. Interestingly, the lyrics have none of the irony typical of American standards. They are unapologetically and poignantly poetic ("you wander down a lane and far away, leaving me a love that cannot die") but if you’re in the right sort of mood, they still work.
This is not the sort of song I can pull off vocally, so I asked my friend Anne Robinson Frey to join me again. (You can also hear her on In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning). In the manner of the arranger for the Nat Cole version (I apologize for not having the name handy, especially as arrangers get too little credit as it is) I was thinking strings. I have heard that Carmichael’s verse was inspired by Bix Beiderbecke’s trumpet playing so I added some trumpet too. After that, there didn’t seem any place to fit a piano in or any reason to do so. Click on the red title below to hear it. The lyrics are below. (If you’d like to “suscribe”, i.e. to have me e-mail you weekly tunes as they appear, please e-mail via the contact page and simply put “Weekly Tune” in the subject.
And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
Now the little stars, the little stars pine
Always reminding me that we’re apart
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a love that cannot die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by.
Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights
Dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
Ah, but that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song
Beside a garden wall where stars are bright
You are in my arms
That nightingale tells its fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew
Though I dream in vain
Always in my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of loves refrain.