Facing the Music
David Lehman, author of ‘A Fine Romance,’ offers insights into the American songbook
It’s astonishing how many hits from the American songbook—the corpus of music written from the 1920s to the 1960s that includes Broadway hits, Tin Pan Alley tunes, and Hollywood musicals—were written by Jews. These Jewish composers and lyricists included heavy hitters like Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the Gershwins, plus perhaps lesser known figures like Harold Arlen and Dorothy Fields. Writer and poet David Lehman explores this connection in his new Nextbook Press book, A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs. Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry talks to him about the book, the songs, and the Jewish themes buried in some of the best-known classics.