Business was so bad at his London nightclub, said Ronnie Scott, that the band was playing "Tea for One." Nobody needed the joke explained. "Tea for Two" is one of those standards that prove nothing is more enduring than popular songs. Except possibly their writers, it seems, as the recent tributes to Irving Caesar, who wrote the words to "Tea for Two," mention he lived to 101. Irving ("White Christmas") Berlin and Eubie ("Memories of You") Blake also passed the century mark. Their joy to the world is for all seasons.
Mr. Caesar turns out to have a link with a long-lived poet of another kind, Robert Frost, who said that what he wrote fast was not always good, but whatever was good was written fast. The legend is that Caesar wrote "Tea for Two" in five or maybe 15 minutes. His line: "Sometimes I write lousy, but always fast."