Tune in to First Take with Lando and Chavis – weekdays from 6-9 am MT – for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!


In 1952 Fran Landesman, having spent a great deal of time in her husband Jay’s bar “The Crystal Palace” in Saint Louis, Missouri, started writing lyrics. Taking T S Eliot’s “April is the Cruellest Month” as the base, she wrote “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” in 1955; Tommy Wolf, the Palace’s pianist, wrote the melody. The song was a hit, leading to a long-term partnership. In 1959 this and “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men”, another of their songs, was featured in “The Nervous Set”, based on Jay’s novel about the Beat Generation, which enjoyed a long run in Saint Louis and a very short run on Broadway.<p allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" p="" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vd5VVELfWC8" style="margin:0in;  

The combination of ironic words and gently flowing melody created a deeply memorable song. Both vocal and instrumental versions have been popular since the earliest releases, though generally not topping out the charts. June Christy, Ella Fitzgerald and Barbara Streisand made exemplary recordings, as did Stan Getz, Albert Dailey and Nathan Parker.


Fran Landesman lived extravagantly, brilliantly and with great disdain for most conventions from her birth in Manhattan in 1927, through many years in Saint Louis, Missouri, and London, England, where she died in 2011. Courted by Jack Kerouac, serenaded by Alan Ginsburg, propositioned by Lenny Bruce, she said of herself “It was a good life, but it wasn’t commercial.” She said of Jay Landesman that “he would make a good first husband” and remained married to him until his death several month before hers.


Tommy Wolf (1925 – 1975), composer, arranger and pianist, was best known for his songwriting collaboration with Fran Landesman. Born in Saint Louis, they met while he was playing piano at “The Crystal Palace”. He released two albums, “Wolf at Your Door” (1990) and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”. While not widely known, Ted Gioia said of Wolf’s compositions that they are “prized by musicians for their poetry and sophistication.” He later focused on lyric writing, collaborating with Fred Astaire on “Life Is Beautiful” and Victor Feldman on “A Face Like Yours”. He worked on television shows with Donnie Osmond and Marie Osmond until shortly before his death in January 1975.




Copyright 2019 KUVO . To see more, visit KUVO .

Become a Member

Join the growing family of people who believe that music is essential to our community. Your donation supports the work we do, the programs you count on, and the events you enjoy.

Download the App

Download KUVO's FREE app today! The KUVO Public Radio App allows you to take KUVO's music and news with you anywhere, anytime!