CECILIA (Does Your Mother Know You’re 0ut?)
(Music Dave Dreyer, words Herman Ruby)
Analysed by Robert Walton
For some reason this 1925 song is sometimes wrongly misspelt as “Cecelia” with an incorrect second “e”. In fact it should be an “i”. Just by adding the letters “ia” to Cecil, it becomes female. At the start of bar 3 and bar 7 the tune produces a four beat semibreve in which a soft shoe shuffle leads to a sudden stop in the form of a cheeky accented “lia!”
As a child this was one of the first ditties I played by ear on the piano probably because it was a song my parents grew up with, which now in the 21st century is completely forgotten. But boy was it popular in its heyday! Among those who recorded it were “Whispering” Jack Smith, Johnny Hamp and Dick Jurgens. Dave Dreyer who also wrote Me And My Shadow,Back In Your Own Backyard andThere’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder, was an accompanist for Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker.
This arrangement of the rarely heard Cecilia is by the youngest of the three famous Farnon brothers, Dennis (1923-2019). The eldest was Brian (1911-2010) and the “middle man” was Robert (1917-2005). In retrospect perhaps they should be named the “Toronto Trio”. Certainly each shares the family DNA.
Anyway Dennis worked in Hollywood for ten years, where his screen credits included the music for a dozen ‘Mr. Magoo’ cartoons and four animated “Art’ films. He was Artist and West Coast Album Director for RCA Records and one of the five founders of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences who present the annual Grammy awards. Other conducting and arranging work have been for Harry Belafonte, Tony Martin, Gogi Grant, George Shearing and the Four Freshmen. Dennis Farnon’s album “Caution Men Swinging” is a good example of his big band abilities. (Incidentally Brian was heavily involved in bands for big American gambling resorts). In 1962 Dennis came to Europe where he wrote a great deal of production music.
Now to Dennis Farnon’s actual 1959 arrangement of Cecilia. Right from the start the music has “cartoon” written all over it. In a way it’s even more daring than brother Bob’s style. Plenty of deliberate dissonances with woodwind and brass plodding along. This is clearly the playful side of Dennis’s talents, when he is simply having fun. Because of the novelty aspect of the tune it’s crying out for almost anything that comes to the arranger’s mind. Smooth flutes and brass continue the tune. Did you notice everything speeds up slightly for a moment? Somehow I get the feeling Billy May wasn’t far away and spiritually around. His glissing saxes would fit in perfectly to this tempo. And nothing like a key change to add a bit of zing to a piece. Cecilia continues to stroll happily along now, almost automatically, with some interesting counter-melodies running free against this simple melody. The “Farnon” magic has clearly worked on this 1920’s lass with a delicate air!
“Orchestral Gems in Stereo” Guild Light Music GLCD 5165
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