Friday, 3 August 2012

Chlo-e (Song of the Swamp)

Chlo-e (Song of the Swamp) (1927) is a show tune with music by Charles N. Daniels, writing under the pseudonym of "Neil Morét," and lyrics by Gus Kahn. It is now regarded as a jazz standard.

The first recording of Chloe was made for Columbia in Los Angeles in September 1927 by singer Douglas Richardson, a vocalist with ties to Charles N. Daniels; it was followed by another Columbia by The Singing Sophomores made in November. The first instrumental recording of Chloe was made by the All-Star Orchestra for Victor, with a vocal chorus by Franklyn Baur, in December 1927. This is identified in the Victor ledgers as "the Fud and Farley Orchestra," indicating the participation of Fud Livingston and Max Farley, though Nat Shilkret probably led the band. Shilkret did record another arrangement of it for Victor with his Rhythm-Melodists in 1928.

However, the record that appears to have popularized Chloe is an elaborate version by the Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra recorded in 1928 with vocals by Austin Young. This arrived along with a host of other 1928 recordings of the song. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry refers to the song in Chapter 4 of Ultramarine - Dana and Janet see Mas and Zez two saxophonists from the Palais de Danse on the shore near New Brighton;  "We must get them to play Chloe - but no, they can't hear. It's against the wind". Later Dana recalls "even had Mas heard, it would have been all to no purpose, they would never have been able to dance to Janet's favourite tune - Chloe, the Song of the Swamp - for this is the last day. They are parting perhaps forever..." (Pg. 131).

Lowry's mention of the song is an example of him using a reference outside its proper time. The incident on the shore relates to a time in Lowry's love affair with Tess Evans before he sailed to the Far East in May 1927. The song had not been recorded at that stage. Lowry may have heard the song later while in America in 1929 - possibly the Paul Whiteman version as he was already familiar with the bandleader having seen him perform in Liverpool in 1926.

The inference in the saxophonists playing the song is that Lowry is referring to the instrumental version. However, the lyrics may have appealed to Lowry as Dana walks through "dismal swampland" of the red light district of Dairen "searching" for Janet with "empty arms outstretched, he's crying" .

Chloe! Chloe!

Someone's calling, no reply
Nightshade's falling, hear him sigh

Chloe! Chloe!

Empty spaces in his eyes
Empty arms outstretched, he's crying

Through the black of night
I've got to go where you are
If it's dark or bright
I've got to go where you are

I'll go through the dismal swampland
Searching for you
For if you are lost there
Let me be there, too

Through the smoke and flame
I've got to go where you are
For no ways can be too far
Where you are

Ain' no chains can bind you
If you live, I'll find you
Love is calling me
I've got to go where you are

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