FOREWORD BY SAMUEL ARLEN
Son of the Composer and President of S.A. Music Co.
is with great honor that I dedicate this website to my father, Harold
Arlen. Over the years that S.A. Music Co. has published many of my father's
compositions, I have grown to appreciate how loved his music is by so
many people. Often people ask me what songs Harold Arlen wrote and I'll
list a few for them, such as I've Got the World On A String,
It's Only A Paper Moon, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive, Stormy Weather,
Get Happy, I Love A Parade, Last Night When We Were Young, One For My
Baby (And One More For The Road), That Old Black Magic, and, of
course, the songs from The Wizard of Oz (most notably Over The
Rainbow). With over 400 songs to his credit, it's hard to name them all.
But invariably when I mention even just a couple, people always react
by saying, "Wow! I can't believe that Harold Arlen wrote all of those
songs!" Then they tell me which is their favorite and why.
If you look at all of the songs that Harold Arlen has composed (please
see "Complete List of Works" on the MUSIC
page of this site), it is obvious to see how prolific a songwriter he
was. But if you listen to his songs - and this is the key - you will know
the type of person that he was. I always say, "You don't just listen
to a Harold Arlen song - you feel it!" And that's what I think makes
his writing so incredible - it is a window into the very heart and soul
of the composer himself.
So why do so many people know the songs of Harold Arlen, but not know
the name behind the music? For one thing, Harold originally did not want
to be a songwriter. He dreamed of becoming a singer and actually spent
years in the beginning of his career on stage singing and playing the
piano. However, his natural ability to compose led him down a different
path than he originally envisioned for himself. Second, Harold composed
music with a number of different lyricists and, as a result, his name
never became associated with one particular person, like Rodgers and Hammerstein,
for example. Finally, Harold chose not to hire a publicist to promote
his name as a songwriter. When not on stage, Harold was actually a rather
shy person. Now a songwriter, not a performer, Harold opted to keep his
personal life out of the showbiz spotlight. So, while the songs he composed
have become known world-wide, his name and face have remained anonymous.
That Harold Arlen chose not to be in the spotlight does not mean that
he did not enjoy his songwriting successes. To the contrary, Harold was
an extremely social person and he and his wife, Anya, loved to attend
parties and gatherings with their friends who, consequently, were the
top stars of the time. Harold just preferred to let his songs shine and
did not feel the need to personally "take the credit," though
it was often, and still is, due. That's just how Harold was.
Harold Arlen was also very introspective and had a strong social conscience.
He tended to take things very seriously, but was known to be a happy and
upbeat person with a good sense of humor. You can hear his jovial tone
in songs like Get Happy, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,
and Lydia The Tattooed Lady, for example. But he also had tremendous
emotional depth, which is reflected in songs such as Over the Rainbow,
My Shining Hour, and my personal favorite, Last Night When
We Were Young. Tony Bennett, who has sung numerous Harold Arlen
songs during his career, has said of Harold Arlen, "Beside him being
the greatest professional man I ever met, he was the most beautiful human
being I ever met."
I was 28 years old when my father died. I never actually saw him composing
music. He tended to like to do that in private. And we rarely discussed
business - that's just how he was. But still, he managed to instill a
deep love of music in me that will never die and for that I will always
be grateful. Though I have lost a great friend, thankfully, his music
I hope you will continue to enjoy the music of Harold Arlen for years
to come, as will I.
To learn more about Sam Arlen, his album "Arlen
Plays Arlen" and his performance shcedule, please visit www.samarlen.com.
Back to Top