Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hugh Martin, still alive at 95!

Today marks the 95th birthday of composer Hugh Martin. The name might not seem familiar at first glance, but if you watch enough TCM, you're sure to have seen Martin. Every time TCM schedules the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, they pull out a piece they did with Martin sitting at a piano, telling how Arthur Freed wanted a song for Judy Garland to sing about the trolley. Needless to say, Martin and his composing partner, Ralph Blane, had difficulty coming up with such a song. Couldn't they just write a song for Garland to sing on the trolley? Oh no, Freed told them. They had to write a song about the trolley. As Martin tells the story, eventually one of the two of them saw a photo with the caption, "Clang, clang, clang, went the jolly little trolley," which gave them the idea for The Trolley Song. Truth be told, I can't stand The Trolley Song, but please don't let that stop you from enjoying it.

In addition to The Trolley Song, Martin also wrote Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Besides songwriting, Martin accompanied Judy Garland on the piano at many of her concerts, and also did arrangements for a number of Broadway musicals, some of which were later made into movies, including Too Many Girls, Cabin in the Sky and Du Barry Was a Lady.

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