Name That Tune

Name That Tune

James Morris

READING LYRICS. Edited by Rovert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball. Pantheon. 706 pp. $39.50

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READING LYRICS. Edited by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball. Pantheon. 706 pp. $39.50

What good is a song

If the words just don’t belong?

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans didn’t get around to asking that question in a song ("To Each His Own") until 1946, but the sentiment was hardly new then, and it hasn’t aged a day since. The common wisdom is that words and music are inseparable, a taken-for-granted couple like love and marriage, horse and carriage. And yet, the music of many a song lives without its lyrics. So how would the words to those same songs fare if sent orphaned into the world? On the evidence of this hefty brief for independence, the lyrics on their own would have an up-and-down time of it, and a lot of them would go hungry. But that’s not to say they don’t deserve a shot at freedom.

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