Scene4-International Magazine of Arts and Culture
TorchSong | Arthur Meiselman | Scene4 Magazine - April 2018 -

Arthur Meiselman

The burning heart... loneliness from love lost, love remembered, forgotten dreams.

"Carry a torch" is an early 20th century American phrase that flamed up in the 1920's Jazz Age (and thereafter) as a popular song-style, both written and sung as... a Torch Song.

Many, many Torch Songs were written and many, many singers sang and recorded them from Billie Holiday to Roy Orbison. Fittingly, the definitive Torch Song album is Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely (1958).

Of all the Torch singers from the '20s and '30s, Helen Morgan uniquely captured the Torch song and the song-style in a strange, self-defining, more than moving way.


She didn't have the best voice, or perfect pitch, or the remarkable musical phrasing of Holiday and Sinatra. But she could deliver a song that was so initimately "torched", so privately burnt that it lingered long after the music stopped.


Like Holiday, Morgan lived what she sang with her inner life wide open. She delivered in a way that her listeners could "see" as well hear.

Polly Bergen was a fine singer and a good actress. She was known for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Morgan's life on television's famed Playhouse 90, and for a beautiful award-winning album of Helen Morgan's songs.


She came close but couldn't quite capture what Morgan did... simply because she didn't live the life.

The Torch Song is almost gone... because the audience for it is dying out. More so, there are few, if any, singers today who can affectingly deliver a song with only a piano behind them or a subdued trio... no throbbing percussion, no ejaculating bass, just the singer and her lyrics.

It's a sad loss.

The burning heart is lonely no more.

Send A Letter
To The Editor

Share This Page

View other readers’ comments in Letters to the Editor

Scene4 Magazine - Arthur Meiselman

Arthur Meiselman is a writer and the Editor of Scene4. His latest books include The Lyriana Nocturnes and Of Modigliani in Midnight Mourning. He also directs the Talos Ensemble and produces for Aemagefilms.
Read his Blog.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2018 Arthur Meiselman
©2018 Publication Scene4 Magazine


Scene4 Magazine: Writings | Arthur Meiselman | www.scene4.comWritings
Index of Arthur Meiselman’s
columns and writings in Scene4.
Click Here for Access



April 2018

Volume 18 Issue 11

SECTIONS: Cover | This Issue | inFocus | inView | inSight | Perspectives | Special Issues 
COLUMNS: Alenier | Bettencourt | Meiselman | Jones | Thomas | Marcott | Walsh | Letters 
INFORMATION: Masthead | Submissions | Recent Issues | Your Support | Links | Archives
CONNECTIONS: Contact Us | Comments | Subscribe | Advertising | Privacy | Terms |

Search This Issue


Search The Archives


Share Email

Scene4 (ISSN 1932-3603), published monthly by Scene4 Magazine–International Magazine of Arts and Culture. Copyright © 2000-2018 Aviar-Dka Ltd – Aviar Media Llc.

Scientific American -
Calibre Ebook Management -
Thai Airways at Scene4 Magazine