I was speaking to John Lahr, the writer
Now like me they agree you're lucky to me. No harm can happen to me anymore. I'm writing 13s all over my door. My mother and dad thought that my luck was bad, but now like me they agree, baby, you're lucky to me. GROSS: And that's a really contemporary-sounding song... BAGNERIS: Yeah. GROSS: ...I think, you know, melodically. And, in affect, you know, Barry Singer wrote a biography of Andy Razaf, and in that book Singer says that Razaf said that some of the intervals in "Lucky To Me" were really innovative at the time and that Ethel Waters particularly enjoyed the song and that she said when she sang it I've never sung changes like that before. And Andy Razaf said to her neither has anyone else (laughter). Dick Hyman, what do you think is particularly innovative for its time about the intervals in that song? HYMAN: Well, the harmonies that the intervals go with (playing piano) - that's wonderful. And that's very untypical of that period. GROSS: We're listening back to our 1998 program about composer Eubie Blake. We'll hear more after a break. This is FRESH AIR. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) GROSS: This is FRESH Air. Let's get back to our tribute to composer Eubie Blake, which we originally broadcast in 1998. It features singer Vernel Bagneris, pianist Dick Hyman and theather historian Robert Kimball. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST) GROSS: Robert Kimball, you rediscovered Eubie Blake and Noble Sissel in the late 1960s. How did you meet him? How did you find him? KIMBALL: I would say that I was one of the people who helped rediscover Eubie. I was, at that time, the curator of the Yale American Musical Theater Collection, and I was looking to build the archives. And one day, I was speaking to John Lahr, the writer, and he said my father - his father, Bert Lahr, the great actor-comedian - suggested that the very first people you should contact - me contact - were Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. So actually it was Bert Lahr who arranged for John Lahr and myself to go up and meet Noble Sissel. And this would've been I'm sure in the spring of 1967. And we had a visited Sissel. He told us maybe just weeks before he was going to throw out all his old files and his old materials... GROSS: Oh. KIMBALL: ...That he'd said no one is interested in them. There's no reason to keep them. And by this miracle we were able to get there in time.