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Have You Met Miss Jones (1937)

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“Its verse is a dream: graceful, sad, sweet, and romantic. The chorus has all the charm, grace and eloquence which we have come to expect of both Rodgers and Hart.”

- Alec Wilder

Rank 222
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Lorenz Hart

The satire on Washington politics and political figures, I’d Rather Be Right, opened on Broadway in late 1937 and ran for 290 performances. With a book by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and music by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart, it starred George M. Cohan as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Advance ticket sales set a record.

 

More on Lorenz Hart at JazzBiographies.com
 
 

More on Richard Rodgers at JazzBiographies.com
 

Although Rodgers and Hart were pro-FDR, they liked the idea of lampooning political institutions and felt that the project could be done in good taste and with humor. But they were extremely unhappy with the choice of Cohan with whom they’d worked in Hollywood five years earlier. He made no attempt to hide his contempt for the songwriters. Besides, Cohan hated Roosevelt. In fact, on opening night Cohan inserted his own lyrics into an encore, much to the displeasure of the songwriters. But in his autobiography Musical Stages Rodgers admits that although reviews of the show weren’t raves, Cohan received glowing accolades. “I’ll be the first to admit that he fully deserved them,” says Rodgers.

The show’s setting is New York City’s Central Park on the Fourth of July. An engaged couple, played by Joy Hodges and Austin Marshall, are bemoaning the fact that they can’t marry until the young man gets a raise which his employer can’t afford until the President balances the national budget. The young man falls asleep in the park and dreams that he meets Roosevelt. Along with his Cabinet and the Supreme Court, the President sings and dances his promises to help the young couple in numbers such as “We’re Going to Balance the Budget.”

Biting satire reigned supreme in numbers such as “Take and Take and Take” and “A Little Bit of Constitutional Fun.” All of the songs in the musical were politically topical and did not survive outside of the show. The one ballad, “Have You Met Miss Jones?” was sung by Hodges, the “Miss Jones” of the title, and Marshall. Rodgers explains in his autobiography the song “...was introduced simply as one way of getting the President’s cabinet to become sympathetic to the young lovers’ plight.”

Alec Wilder in his book American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950 says, “The rising scale lines in ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ are far from pedestrian.... Its verse is a dream: graceful, sad, sweet, and romantic. The chorus has all the charm, grace and eloquence which we have come to expect of both Rodgers and Hart.”

In his book Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs William Zinsser calls it one of his “two favorite key-changing bridges--gems of unexpectedness--(‘Then all at once I lost my breath’).” His other favorite is Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” (“And in your lonely flight”). In his commentary on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” on jazzstandards, reed and horn player Jay Thomas suggests that the bridge with its movement through keys by major thirds might have been an inspiration for Coltrane’s composition.

Some have attempted to read secret meaning into Hart’s lyrics. In drug parlance “a jones” is an addiction, especially to heroin. However, the term has come to mean an intense yearning for anything like clothes, sex or chocolate. The first lines of the verse, which describe love at first sight, are physical in nature which is typical of Hart’s lyrics which often equate love with some kind of bodily pain that overcomes reason:

It happened--I felt it happen.
I was awake--I wasn’t blind.
I didn’t think--I felt it happen.
Now I believe in matter over mind.

The last lines of the lyric are especially open to such interpretation:

Now I’ve met Miss Jones,
And we’ll keep on meeting till we die,
Miss Jones and I.

British pop star Robbie Williams, who sang “Have You Met Miss Jones?” in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), helped renew interest in the song. Most of the major jazz singers have recorded the tune, including Ella Fitzgerald and Anita O’Day in her Rodgers and Hart tribute backed by the Billy May Orchestra. (Female singers usually change the lyrics to “Have You Met Sir Jones?”)

Vocalist Tony Bennett used the song as the title of an album. The Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra recorded the tune as did trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker and bassist Ray Brown; guitarists Tal Farlow and George Van Eps; pianists George Cables, Ahmad Jamal, and Red Garland; vibist Cal Tjader and violinist Stephane Grappelli. Recent recordings are by pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias, saxophonist Don Braden, guitarist Mark Elf, harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens, and pianists Bill Mays, Roger Kellaway and Bob Florence.

More information on this tune...

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages


(Author/composer Wilder devotes a page to his analysis of the music in his definitive book on Amercian popular song.)

- Sandra Burlingame

Musicians' Comments

Usually this song is done as a 4/4 swing tune. I recorded it on my latest CD in 3/4 as  a jazz waltz. There’s nothing really unusual in the A section of the tune; it’s the bridge, written in the key of F, that really interests me harmonically--the way it does II-V-I cadences to the keys of Bb, Gb, D, and Gb again before finally getting back to F for the last 8 bars!

Bill Mays, pianist, composer and arranger
www.BillMays.net


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Reading and Research
Additional information for "Have You Met Miss Jones" may be found in:

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages


(1 page including the following types of information: music analysis.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 568 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Pantheon
Hardcover: 736 pages


(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)
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Jazz History Notes

Alto saxophonist Lennie Niehaus’ 1954 octet session showcases not only his fine playing but also his exquisite arranging which would lead him into a movie soundtrack career. He’s surrounded by a talented group of Hollywood’s best on this session, and they swing the number in a bouncy manner.

The prodigiously talented pianist Art Tatum recorded hundreds of performances for producer Norman Granz’s Verve label in the 1950s. Tatum recorded both solo and with guests; his 1956 Verve session with tenor sax giant Ben Webster finds both men in a soulful groove, Ben’s breathy approach giving this tune just the right touch.

Swing era trumpeter Roy Eldridge recorded two strikingly different versions of “Miss Jones” for Verve; the first, with wild man tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet in October, 1956; then a restrained version with strings a year later.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian


Lennie Niehaus
Zounds!
Original Jazz Classics 1892

Art Tatum
The Tatum Group Masterpieces Vol. 8
Pablo 2405431

iTunes
Illinois Jacquet
Flyin' Home
Polygram Records 21644

iTunes
Roy Eldridge
The Complete Verve Roy Eldridge Studio Sessions
Mosaic Records 163602 (Rare

CD Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
McCoy Tyner
Reaching Fourth
1998 Impulse! 255
Original recording 1962
This energetic, fast-paced performance finds pianist Tyner inventing at a dazzling rate while drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Henry Grimes fire on all cylinders.
iTunes
Cal Tjader
Tjader Plays Mambo
1997 Original Jazz Classics 274
Original recording 1956
Tjader’s Latin rendition of the song is as hip as they come. A bongo-based percussion provides the carpet over which the vibraphonist lays down the infectious melody.
iTunes
Joe Williams
A Swingin' Night at Birdland
1991 Blue Note 95335
Original recording 1962
It is indeed a swinging night at Birdland as the ever-jubilant Williams revels in this live performance. The vocalist is at his most endearing as he scats in friendly rivalry with trumpeter Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison.
iTunes
Billy Bean, Hal Gaylor, Walter Norris
Trio: Rediscovered
String Jazz Records

This rare outing features the marvelous but seldom heard guitarist Billy Bean along with pianist Norris and bassist Hal Gaylor. A lovely, swinging reharmonization of “Have You Met Miss Jones” is one of the highlights.

- Ben Maycock

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers

Year Rank Title
1937 6 My Funny Valentine
1939 82 I Didn't Know What Time It Was
1935 91 My Romance
1934 94 Blue Moon
1932 118 Lover
1938 123 This Can't Be Love
1935 124 Little Girl Blue
1940 181 It Never Entered My Mind
1937 208 Where or When
1937 222 Have You Met Miss Jones
1938 228 Spring Is Here
1927 246 My Heart Stood Still
1927 278 Thou Swell
1936 284 There's a Small Hotel
1938 289 Falling in Love with Love
1928 310 You Took Advantage of Me
1941 335 Bewitched
1937 336 The Lady Is a Tramp
1932 337 Isn't It Romantic
1926 429 Blue Room
1932 449 You Are Too Beautiful
1940 455 I Could Write a Book
1925 489 Manhattan
1935 527 It's Easy to Remember (and so Hard to Forget)
1929 536 With a Song in My Heart
1930 671 Dancing on the Ceiling
1936 825 Glad to Be Unhappy
1942 842 Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs to You)
1942 908 Wait Till You See Her

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