Songwriters Who Sing Their Own Songs

Comden & Green
 One of life's pleasures is hearing librettists and composers sing their own songs.  When I first heard Betty Comden clear her throat in a recording of "Thanks A Lot, But No Thanks," the songsmith seemed to give me permission just to have fun with the tune. I had only heard (and seen) the fabulous Dolores Gray version for It's Always Fair Weather (1955), with  choreography attributed to Gene Kelly. The ice-cool blonde in a red-hot dress commanding a room full of chorus boys was the only image that came to mind when the song played. However, the lack of gloss and glamor in Ms. Comden's recording -without the massive orchestra - distilled the song to its delightfully silly Comden & Green essence.
Mercer & DePaul

I confirmed only after hearing the Johnny Mercer- Gene DePaul demo recording (with just a piano accompaniment) that, yes, the backwoodsmen in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers reference Robin Hood and his Merrie Men when singing "Sobbin Women." Though what that has to do with kidnapping your bride I still haven't the faintest clue. Hearing one of the songwriters chuckle a little during one of their demos songs for this film made these musical giants seem refreshingly human. [As did hearing Cole Porter's voice waver throughout his famous catalog song, "You're The Top."]

What are some of your favorite recordings of songwriters singing their own songs?


  1. Great post! I love Cole Porter singing "You're the Top" too! I am also a crazy huge fan of the Sherman Brothers and while Richard Sherman still performs his songs in concerts, I have yet to see him live. However, this will have to hold me over until then:

    (that's all I can think of at the moment. in the meantime, I'm going to go add "A Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green" to my iTunes wishlist because this is delightful! Thank you for discussing this - I never would have found it otherwise!)

  2. The Sherman Brothers are masters of creating detailed historical songs that are also memorable and fun to sing. One of my favorites is "There Are Those" from THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE. It's a neat little history lesson played like the dirty dozens.

    Thanks for the link;I'd never seen that before!

  3. Johnny Mercer - my favorite is his version of "On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe" with the Pied Pipers. And Hoagy Carmichael singing "Ole Buttermilk Sky." I'm also a big fan of the Sons of the Pioneers, whose primary songwriters Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer led the Western music field in writing original songs for the group.

  4. I have not heard those versions. Thanks for mentioning them.


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