||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (September 2012)|
|Song from Garrick Gaieties|
"Manhattan" is a popular song and part of the Great American Songbook. It has been performed by Lee Wiley, Oscar Peterson, Blossom Dearie, Tony Martin, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme, among many others.
The music was written by Richard Rodgers and the words by Lorenz Hart for the 1925 revue "Garrick Gaieties". It was introduced by Sterling Holloway (later the voice of the animated Winnie the Pooh) and June Cochran. The song appears to describe, in several choruses, the simple delights of Manhattan for a young couple. The joke is that these 'delights' are really some of the worst, or at best cheap, delights that New York has to offer, as anyone who has visited Mott Street will understand. A particular Hart delight is the rhyming 'spoil' with 'boy and goyl'.
Since its debut, it has regularly appeared in popular culture. It was first heard on the silver screen in the 1929 short Makers Of Melody, a tribute to Rodgers and Hart sung by Ruth Tester and Allan Gould. Since then, it has been used in the Rodgers and Hart biopic Words And Music (1948), Two Tickets To Broadway (1951), Don't Bother To Knock (1952) (sung by Anne Bancroft), Beau James (1957), Silent Movie (1976), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), The English Patient (1996), Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and many other movies and TV shows, most recently in the 2007 AMC production Mad Men episode "New Amsterdam". In the film All About Eve (1950), the song is played on the piano at the party when Margo and Max are in the kitchen.
In the early and mid-1950s, singer Julius La Rosa became a national celebrity for his exposure on several of the shows hosted by one of the most popular television stars of the era, Arthur Godfrey. On October 19, 1953, La Rosa sang "Manhattan" on one of Godfrey's radio shows. Immediately after he finished, Godfrey fired him on the air, saying, "that was Julie's swan song with us".
- Lee Wiley recorded the song in 1951 for her album Night in Manhattan
- Ella Fitzgerald included this on the Verve release Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook
- Mickey Rooney performed the song in the film Words and Music
- Tony Martin performed the song in the film Two Tickets to Broadway
- Rod Stewart and Bette Midler – Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III (2004)
- Caetano Veloso recorded the song for his 2004 album of covers, A Foreign Sound