To the Editor:
David Finkle, in his Nov. 26 Bistro Bits column, chastises singer Klea Blackhurst for singing "chestnuts [plural] in blossom" and not "chestnut [singular] in blossom" in the Vernon Duke-E.Y. Harburg song "April in Paris." But Miss Blackhurst is correct and Mr. Finkle is wrong. The word "chestnuts" is plural in the sheet music as copyrighted and published by Warner Bros. Inc. Even the French lyric by Emélia Renaud has "chestnuts" in French as plural ("chataigniers").
In his "Slap-on-the-Wrist Department," he owes himself a slap. Left or right? Doesn't matter.
David Finkle replies:
A sad fact of songwriting life is that music publishers don't always get lyrics right. Harburg explained the correct wording to me during an interview I had with him in the 1970s. But I'll quote from "Who Put the Rainbow in 'The Wizard of Oz'?: Yip Harburg, Lyricist," written by Harburg's son Ernie and Harold Meyerson: "[In 'April in Paris'], the singular form of the word 'chestnut' creates a forest of blossoms (and, alas, is usually rendered in plural wrong by singers)." But perhaps Mr. Kasprzak is right that the slap on the wrist was incorrectly directed. It's Warner Bros., which has evidently still not acceded to Harburg's wishes, that deserves the chastisement, and not Klea Blackhurst.