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Eric Maschwitz & Manning Sherwin: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

I spent the first week of January visiting my 90-year-old great aunt in San Diego. I always have a wonderful time seeing her not only because she’s a hoot but because she also introduces me to songs I’m not familiar with from a time I have always loved (mostly the 30’s/40’s/50’s). So this week I’m going to share a couple wonderful songs I love from that era.

We start with the 1939 song “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” This song has been in my book for many years after I was hired for a last minute gig for a church fundraiser. I learned the song and thought I was doing it okay. When I sang it for the music director, a British woman, she immediately stopped playing once I sang the word Berkeley and looked at me like I had three heads. “It’s Bahrkeley. We aren’t in California.” Now every time I talk about this song I must go into a rather elegant British accent and quite overdo the ahhhh sound in Berkeley. 

I am in love with Vera Lynn’s singing of this song. I love her singing most songs truth be told. She keeps it simple and—please don’t ask me why—the way she says ‘nightingale’ and ‘square’ makes me smile every time without fail. Maybe it’s the over pronunciation of those words along with a soothing/lullaby tone if that makes sense. I hope you enjoy!

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