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December 28: Willow Weep for Me

Lawrence Bush
December 28, 2016
Songwriter Ann Ronell (Rosenblatt), one of the first successful women Tin Pan Alley composers, was born in Omaha, Nebraska on this date in 1906 (some sources say 1908). While a student at Radcliffe, she interviewed George Gershwin, for whom she became a rehearsal pianist, and who suggested that she change her name for a show biz career. Ronell’s best-known songs were written in 1932, “Willow Weep for Me” (a huge hit for Paul Whiteman, and later covered by numerous vocalists) and “Rain on the Roof.” She also wrote the Disney Company’s first hit song, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” for the animated feature, Three Little Pigs (1933). Ronell wrote the lyrics and music for the Broadway musical Count Me In (1942) and songs and scores for several movies, including The Story of G. I. Joe (1945), One Touch of Venus (1948), and the Marx Brothers’ Love Happy (1949). To hear Diana Krall performing “Willow Weep for Me,” look below. “Willow weep for me Bent your branches down along the ground and cover me.” --Ann Ronell

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.