The Gershwins' "Treat Me Rough" is such a rollicking good time to sing that I'm always cheered by it no matter how I was feeling before I began. It was, I believe, the very first fully duo-piano arrangement I ever attempted, using the 1943 Girl Crazy version, with June Allyson and Mickey Rooney, as a template. The first try-out, in a room with two pianos at the Cleveland Music School Settlement, was the opposite of auspicious, but I could hear the potential. And a couple of years later when Mark & I decided to expand our 1920s Gershwin show, Syncopated City, into the 1930s with Gershwin On the Air, we finally got to hear it brought to life with great glee by Jason Aquila & Jodie Ricci. I like to think of it as a pianistic fist fight. Sometimes when we perform it live, Mark has channeled his high school football days a little too vividly and come perilously close to knocking me over (admittedly not difficult to do when I'm perched on three-inch vintage heels).
In the original Broadway run of Girl Crazy, this tune was introduced by the actor William Kent and a chorus. The not-too-shoddy cast also included young Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers, the conductor of the pit band of all-star jazzers was Red Nichols, and the onstage pianist for Ethel in the bar scene was Roger Edens, who I've mentioned at other times in my posts. He, of course, was Judy Garland's long-time coach and vocal arranger. Small world, isn't it?
Here's a clip of the end of our recording, also featuring Mark on vocals and, as always, Jason Aquila & Jodie Ricci incinerating the ivories:
This is the ninth in a series of posts about the tunes on "Retrophonic Gershwin," our soon-to-be-released album. Part 1 is "How I Got Rhythm," part 2 is ""Probably I'll Meet Him at a Soda Fountain,"" part 3 is "Which Pianist is Playing What?," part 4 is "Silver Linings," part 5 is "Darling, Let's Take a Bow", part 6 is "A Tune with Distinct Potentialities," part 7 is "Retrophonic Gershwin out July 21st!," and part 8 is "Conjuring Bing." Available July 21, 2015 on iTunes, Amazon, and here.