Sweet Dorothy Fields

Dorothy FieldsToday is unusual, because I’m kind of going to write two birthday posts. But this is the real one. Or the regular one.

On this day in 1905, the great American lyricist Dorothy Fields was born. In her one way, she was as great as my favorite lyricist Lorenz Hart. And she wrote the lyrics to one of my all time favorite songs, “The Way You Look Tonight.” The music to that song is very simple: I-vi-ii-V. That’s even true of the bridge. (Those are the essentials, most people throw in other stuff.) But what makes it work are the “tenderness” of the lyrics. And it’s the ultimate “man” song. In my experience, women you love never age: you always remember them as they were when you first met them.

She was also a playwright, working with her brother Herbert Fields, on a number of successful plays, most notably the book for the Irving Berlin musical, Annie Get Your Gun. They also wrote the book for Redhead, which Dorothy also wrote the lyrics for. She seems to have had no problem working with any composer. She worked with such notables as Jimmy McHugh, Jerome Kern, and Cy Coleman.

With the last composer, she probably had her greatest success with the musical Sweet Charity. The big hit from that show was “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” But I can never really resist listening to “Big Spender”:

Happy birthday Dorothy Fields!

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