Serendipity Talk: The Lyrics of Mack Gordon

Tuesday, February 7
3:30-5:00 PM
Online via Zoom

We will shine the spotlight on the songs of a man who worked almost completely out of the spotlight. A journeyman Hollywood lyricist, Mack Gordon didn't have the wit of Larry Hart or Ira Gershwin or the emotional insight of Oscar Hammerstein II, but he sure had the knack for coming up with the words that would turn a catchy tune into a hit song. If you were in the 1940s or early 1950s anywhere near a dance floor or a juke box or a radio, Mack Gordon songs were a part of your life: Chattanooga Choo-Choo, I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo, I Had the Craziest Dream, You’ll Never Know, I Can’t Begin to Tell You – all #1 on the Billboard chart. In the 11 years beginning in 1940, his songs were nominated for Academy Awards nine times. We’ll start our introduction to his work with a clip of Ethel Waters doing his first hit and end with Michael Bublé doing another, with in between renditions of his hits and some more obscure songs by, among others, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Perry Como, Vera Lynn, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen Miranda, and Josephine Baker. And perhaps hear from OLLI members a memory or two triggered by one of the songs.

Dan Moskowitz has tapped his avocational interest in American popular music and Broadway musicals to lead a number of study groups at the OLLIs at American University and George Mason University. He has also given a number of Serendipity talks.


No registration is required. The Zoom link will be e-mailed to all those subscribed to the OLLI newsletter the morning of the talk. If you do not receive the newsletter and would like to attend, please e-mail [email protected] that morning.