Tag Archives: Bing Crosby

Not That Bolero!

all my love4

All My Love is a 1950 popular song, written by Paul Durand, with French lyrics written by Henri Contet and English lyrics by Mitchell Parish. There is some mis-information concerning this song that I would like to correct at the outset.

In the first place, there is the erroneous  idea that the song is based on Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. Don Tyler, in his otherwise excellent book, Hit Parade 1920-1955 (An Encyclopedia of the Top Songs of the Jazz, Depression, Swing, and Sing Eras) writes: “Once again a popular song is borrowed from the classics, this time “Bolero” by impressionist composer Maurice Ravel . . . The very distinctive bolero rhythm of Ravel’s original has probably been the key to its continuing popularity. The same melodic idea is repeated over and over, beginning very softly. With each repetition instruments are added, until the sound is almost deafening.” While these words may be a fine description of Ravel’s Bolero, they are not in any way a description of the song All My Love. My only conclusion after reading Tyler’s words is that he never listened to this piece and took for granted that it was based on Ravel’s classic. I suspect that he came to this conclusion was because of the subtitle of the piece, which is “Bolero.” The only possible similarity that this song has with Ravel’s Bolero is the contagious rhythm used in the piece.

Secondly, many of the internet sources state that Cliff Richard had a hit version of the song. While it is true that Richard made a recording of a song entitled All My Love, but it is not the same song written by Paul Durand in 1949. Again, listening to the song would have prevented this error.

Now that we have the misinformation out of the way, let me turn to the 1950 popular song entitled All My Love (Bolero).

This song was originally entitled Bolero and was written by French composer Paul Durand. It became known in United States as All My Love when lyricist Mitchell Parish wrote the English lyrics to Durand’s music. Parish is best known for his lyrics to such songs as Stardust, Sweet Lorraine, Deep Purple, Stars Fell On Alabama, Sophisticated Lady, Volare (English lyrics), and Moonlight Serenade.

Movie poster for the film, Scandal in Champs Elysèe

Movie poster for the film, Scandal in Champs Elysèe

The original version was composed for the movie Scandal in Champs Elysèe (1949) and recalls but does not imitate the rhythm of the famous one-movement orchestral piece written for a ballet entitled Bolero of Maurice Ravel, The movie, Scandal in Champs Elysèe, is a drama in which three ravishing models are murdered at a top designer’s salon. The murders are investigated and after a number of mishaps and a certain amount of flirting, the detective on the case manages to clear up the case.

All My Love was popularized by Patti Page in 1950 and first reached the Billboard chart on August 26, 1950, lasting twenty-two weeks and peaking at #1. It was Patti Page’s first #1 hit. In this song, Patti Page wanders expertly through the octaves, from sultry alto to señorita soprano and she extends the phrase “Ohhhh, ooh-ooh never let me go” into a twelve-second, one-breath plea, and inserts a hiccupping country cry in the phrase, “I can  see…” Even if listeners could not see Page, they certainly became aware of the message of this love song.

The original Billboard review said of the song and Page’s handling of the lyrics: “The adaptation of the French ballad ‘Bolero’ is sung with warmth and persuasion by the thrush. If the plug tune scores, this disking could catch a sizable share.”

Patti Page

Patti Page

Patti Page [birth name: Clara Ann Fowler] was one of the best-known female artists in traditional pop music. She was often introduced as “the Singin’ Rage, Miss Patti Page.” Page signed with Mercury Records in 1947, and became the company’s first successful female artist, starting with 1948’s Confess. Because of a strike, background singers were not available to provide harmony vocals for the song, so instead, Page and the label decided to overdub her own. Mitch Miller, who, at the time was a producer for Mercury Records, was able to overdub Page’s voice, due to his well-known use of technology. Thus, Patti Page became the first pop artist to overdub her own vocals on a song.

In addition to Patti Page’s #1 version, All My Love was also popular in 1950 in versions by Guy Lombardo, Percy Faith, Bing Crosby, and Dennis Day.



Music by Paul Durand; English lyrics by Mitchell Parish

All my love, I give you all my love

The skies may fall, my love

But I will still be true

All my sighs, will disappear at last

Now that you’re here at last

My heart belongs to you

Ohhhhhhhhh ooh, never let me go

You thrill me so

I can see as I recall my life

I’ve waited all my life

To give you all my love

Ay, ay, ay

Ay, ay, ay

Ay, ay, ay

Ay, ay, ay

Bow, caballero, and tip your sombrero

To your señorita, the lovely Chiquita

Waiting so long for you and your song

While you are playing her heart will be swaying

She will surrender her kisses so tender

To you she will cling the moment that you sing

All my love, I give you all my love

The skies may fall, my love

But I will still be true

All my sighs will disappear at last

Now that you’re here at last my heart belongs to you

Ohhhhhhhhh ooh, never let me go

You thrill me so

I can see as I recall my life

I’ve waited all my life

To give you all my love

Ay, ay, ay

Ay, ay, ay

Ay, ay, ay


Ay, ay, ay


Music by Paul Durand; French lyrics by Henri Contet


Dans la douceur du soir

Sous le ciel rouge et noir

Où chantent les guitares


Si tu voulais danser

Dans mes deux bras serrée

Qu’il ferait bon s’aimer

Viens, mon amour t’appelle

Viens, danser encor’


Je garderai toujours

Le souvenir du jour

Où j’ai dansé l’amour

Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe


Comme en rêve

La nuit qui se lève

Allume une flamme

Au fond de nos âmes

Soleil de tes yeux

Instant merveilleux

Pour que je prenne

Ta main dans la mienne

Dis-moi, quand tu danses

Des mots d’espérance

Dis-moi ton désir

Comme un premier soupir



Patti Page [Harry Geller Orchestra]

Percy Faith and his Orchestra

Bing Crosby [Jeff Alexander Chorus; Victor Young Orchestra]

Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians [vocals by Bill Flanagan]

Dennis Day [Charles Dant Orchestra]


 Jacqueline François [Paul Durand Orchestra]

Georges Guétray

Roberto Inglez and His Orchestra (instrumental)


Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music

Banned in Boston and Everywhere Else For That Matter

While I was researching my last posts for music pertaining to D-Day, I became acutely aware that a significant number of songs were recorded a cappella in 1943. Vocalists such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dick Haymes were singing without orchestral accompaniment and backed by a vocal chorus. I found out that these recordings were the result of a recording ban by the musicians’ union that began in 1942.

James Caesar Petrillo

James Caesar Petrillo

Why this happened is the subject of this post.

On 1 August 1942, the American Federation of Musicians, at the instigation of union president James Petrillo, called a strike against the major American recording companies because of disagreements over royalty payments. Beginning at midnight, 31 July, no union musician could record for any record company. The strike did not affect musicians performing on live radio shows, in concerts.

Petrillo had long thought that recording companies should pay royalties. When he announced that the recording ban would start at midnight, 31 July 1942, most people thought it would not happen. After all, the United States had just entered World War Two on 8 December 1941 and most newspapers opposed the ban. But by July, it was clear that the ban would indeed take place and record companies began to stockpile new recordings of their big names. In the first two weeks of July, for instance, these performers recorded new material: Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, and Glenn Miller. Incidentally, in the case of Glenn Miller, these would be his last recordings as a civilian bandleader. By the last week of July, there was a long list of performers cutting records, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, Alvino Ray, Johnny Long, Claude Thornhill, Judy Garland, Glen Gray, Benny Goodman, Kay Kyser, Dinah Shore, Spike Jones, and Duke Ellington, among others.

At first, the record companies could release these new recordings to meet listeners’ needs from their unissued stockpiles, but eventually this supply was exhausted. The companies also re–released deleted records from their back catalogues, including some from as far back as the mid-1920s. One re–release that was especially successful was Columbia’s release of Harry James’ All or Nothing at All, recorded in August 1939 and released before James’ new vocalist, Frank Sinatra, had made a name for himself. The original release carried the usual credit, “Vocal Refrain by Frank Sinatra” in tiny type. It sold about five thousand copies. When the record was re–released in 1943 with Sinatra given top billing, the label read, “Acc. Harry James and his Orchestra” in tiny type below. It was a portent of things to come. The re-released record was on the best–selling list for eighteen weeks and reached the number two slot on the Billboard charts.

As the strike extended into 1943, record companies bypassed the striking musicians by recording their popular vocalists singing with vocal groups filling the backup role normally filled by orchestras.

The strike had an effect on radio shows that used recorded music due to the limited amount of new recordings. Radio programs that relied mainly on records found it difficult to keep introducing new music to their listeners. Martin Block, host of WNEW’s Make Believe Ballroom radio show, circumvented the ban by having friends in England send him versions of records produced in the United Kingdom where the ban was not in effect. He was forced to discontinue this practice after the station’s house orchestra staged a retaliatory strike, which was settled when WNEW agreed not to broadcast records made after 1 August 1942.

Some recording companies did not have an extensive backlog of recordings and they settled with the union after just over a year. Decca Records settled in September, 1943, agreeing to make direct payments to a union-controlled “relief fund,” followed shortly by Capitol Records on 11 October 1943. Capitol had only issued its first records on 1 July 1942, thirty days before the strike began.

Other recording and transcription companies continued to demand that the musician’s union rescind its ban on musicians recording for those companies.
But the union refused to budge, and with competing companies having made new recordings for more than a year, RCA Victor and Columbia finally capitulated, agreeing to substantially similar terms as the other recording companies on 11 November 1944. The end of the strike was not the end of the royalty issue, however. As television was beginning, there were questions regarding musicians and royalties from this new medium, and a similar strike was called for 1948, lasting close to a year, ending on 14 December 1948.

One unexpected result of the strike was the decline of the importance in popular music of the big bands of the 1930s and early 1940s. The strike was not the only cause of this decline, but it emphasized the shift from big bands with an accompanying vocalist to an emphasis on the vocalist, with the exclusion of the band. In the 1930s and pre–strike 1940s, big bands dominated popular music; after the strike, vocalists dominated popular music. Before the strike began, there were signs that the increasing popularity of singers was beginning to reshape the big bands. When Frank Sinatra joined Tommy Dorsey’s band in 1940, most selections started with a Tommy Dorsey trombone solo. By the time Sinatra left the band in 1942, his songs with the band began with his singing, followed by any solos by Dorsey or others.

During the strike, vocalists could and did record without instrumentalists; instrumentalists could not record for the public at all. (Vocalists were not in the union as they were not considered musicians). Until the war, most singers were props. After the war, they became the stars and the role of the bands was gradually subordinated.
The other major cause of the decline of the big bands was World War II itself – and the resulting loss of band members to the military, curtailment of traveling by touring bands because of gasoline rationing, and a shortage of the shellac used to make records.

One more devastating event, that actually predates the AFM ban, also had a tremendously negative impact on big band music and the Big Band era. This was the ASCAP – BMI war of 1941. ASCAP (American Society of Authors, Publishers, and Composers) wanted more money from the radio networks to use their member’s songs. The networks refused and for nearly a year all ASCAP songs were banned from airplay and remote usage. At first the music suffered greatly as BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.,) had nowhere near the list of talented, and well known, composers like the George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and others, as had ASCAP. In addition the networks imposed a “no ad-libbing” rule on broadcast performances! This rule required solos be written out and approved by the networks so no parts of ASCAP songs would seep into improvised solos! The loss in song quality, inspiration, and energy on live broadcasts was noticeable to the public. Then, not long after this obstacle was traversed, came the ill-timed recording ban described above.

Here is a sampling of these recordings made during the recording ban of 1942-1944.
Bing Crosby
If You Please
Oh What A Beautiful Morning
People Will Say We’re In Love
Sunday, Monday Or Always
Perry Como
Goodbye Sue
Have I Stayed Away Too Long
I Love You
Lili Marlene
Long Ago And Far Away
Frank Sinatra
Close To You
I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night
A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
People Will Say We’re In Love
Sunday, Monday Or Always
You’ll Never Know
Dick Haymes
For The First Time
I Heard You Cried Last Night
I Never Mention Your Name
In My Arms
It Can’t Be Wrong
Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey
Wait For Me, Mary
You’ll Never Know
Dinah Shore
I’ll Walk Alone
Ethel Merman
Move It Over
Ginny Simms
Irresistable You
The Song Spinners
Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer
Johnny Zero
The King Sisters
It’s Love, Love, Love
Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet
The Trolley Song
The Four Vagabonds
Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer

1 Comment

Filed under Pop Music

An Irish Lullaby. . . Or Maybe Not!

Killarney, Ireland

Killarney, Ireland

Here is a song with an Irish title (Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral), an Irish-descended composer (James Royce Shannon), Irish dialog in the lyrics, and a part of the Songs of Ireland Collection. The song must be Irish. Right?

But wait a minute! While the song has been enduring as a lullaby sung by mothers to their little children and most people consider this tune to be a traditional Irish tune, its origins are quite American!

James Royce Shannon was really James Royce, an American, and Royce is not an Irish name; it is the old form of the English name Rice. Royce/Shannon is a prime example of the use of pseudonyms to make a song more saleable. Shannon, born James Royce in Adrian, Michigan, became one of America’s more prominent actor, composer/lyricists of the Tin Pan Alley era. Royce added Shannon to his name to create a pseudonym for his writing efforts. He organized his own theatrical company and toured the United States and Europe. Shannon also was the drama critic for the Detroit Free Press for several years. His most famous song is Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, written in 1913 for the musical production Shameen Dhu, (Gaelic for “Black-haired Jamie”), produced by Chauncey Olcott, which was staged in New York in 1914 and ran for thirty-two performances. Its story line is set in Ireland in the late 1700s. This Broadway musical was an Irish love story set in Ireland in the late 1700s within the background of Ireland’s struggle to gain freedom from British rule.

James Royce Shannon also wrote the lyrics to The Missouri Waltz in 1916. That song had originally been published by the composer, Frederick Knight Logan in 1914 as a waltz without words. Shannon added the words and the song has since enjoyed the status of a lasting hit, becoming the state song of the State of Missouri and also as a song regularly played by President Harry S. Truman while in the White House.

Does the phrase Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral have any meaning? Various sources state that the word “tooraloo” is an Anglo-Irish word meaning “Goodbye for now! ‘’ll be seeing you.” It may be a variant of “tootle-oo.” The expression can be dated to circa 1910, and it was also used in James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922: “Toraloo,” Lenehan said, “see you later.” The word is also similar to the Australian expression, “too-a-roo.”

Conceivably, the expression “tooraloo” could have nothing to do with “Too Ra Loo Ra,” despite the apparent similarity. It may be just a nonsense word. Certainly, some songs use it this way.

On the other hand, “Goodbye for now” or “See you later” seem like reasonable themeS for a lullaby, in much the same way “rock-a-bye” in Rock-a-bye Baby has this meaning. The main point is that to the extent that “too ra loo ra” has a meaning at all, the connotation is “Goodbye for now.”

The popularity of Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral in the 1940s stems from the success of Bing Crosby’s hit from the Paramount Pictures film, Going My Way in 1944 in which Crosby plays a young, unconventional priest of Irish decent at St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in New York City.

Bing Crosby sings Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral in a scene from Going My Way

Bing Crosby sings Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral in a scene from Going My Way

In the film, a series of events highlight the differences between Father “Chuck” O’Malley (Bing Crosby) and Father Fitzgibbon’s (Barry Fitzgerald) styles, as they deal with events like a parishioner being evicted and a young woman coming to the church having run away from home. The most consequential difference of opinion between the young easy-going priest, O’Malley, and the old curmudgeonly cleric, Fitzgibbon, arises in their handling of the youth of the church, many of whom are consistently getting into trouble with the law in a gang led by Tony Scaponi (Stanley Clements). Father Fitzgibbon is inclined to look the other way, siding with the boys because of their frequent church attendance. Father O’Malley, instead, seeks to make inroads into the boys’ lives, befriending Scaponi and eventually using this connection to convince the boys, against some initial reluctance, to become a church choir. The noise of the practicing choir annoys Father Fitzgibbon, who finally decides to go to the bishop and ask for Father O’Malley to be transferred away. In the course of the conversation, Father Fitzgibbon infers the bishop’s intention to put Father O’Malley in charge of the parish. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, instead of making his initial request, Father Fitzgibbon asks the bishop to put Father O’Malley in charge, and then, resigned to his fate of losing control over the church, he informs Father O’Malley of his new role.

Distressed, Father Fitzgibbon then flees the parish, leading to a search. He returns late at night, and as Father O’Malley puts the older priest to bed, the two begin to bond, discussing Father Fitzgibbon’s long-put-off desire to go to Ireland and see his mother, whom he has not seen in forty-five years, since he left Ireland as a young priest to come to America, and who is now over ninety. Father O’Malley puts the older priest to sleep with an Irish lullaby,Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral.

Here are the lyrics as sung by Chauncey Olcott (1914)
[Verse 1]
Over in Killarney,
Many years ago,
Me Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low;
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And I’d give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Hush now don’t you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, That’s an Irish lul-la-by

[Verse 2]
Oft, in dreams I wander
To that cot again.
I feel her arms a-hugging me
As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a humming
To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep
Outside the cabin door.

[Repeat chorus]

Please note: Some versions have as many as fifteen verses.

To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, click on the song title, and then right click on Save target as

Chauncey Olcott (1914) Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral
Bing Crosby, John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra (1944) Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral
Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra (Instrumental) (1945) Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral

Kate Smith, Jack Miller and his Orchestra (1946 – did not chart) Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral

1 Comment

Filed under Pop Music

You Talk Too Much

There are several theories as to where the phrase “yada. . .yada” comes from. This phrase is a modern-day equivalent of “blah, blah, blah,” meaning, of course, a disparaging response, indicating that something previously said was predictable, repetitive or tedious.

The earliest of these theories is that the phrase first appeared in the 1947 American musical Allegro by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers contains a song called Yatata, Yatata, Yatata, about cocktail party chatter.

Closely tied to the above idea is the theory that the phrase may be found in an advertisement in an August 1948 edition of the Long Beach Independent: “Yatata … yatata … the talk is all about Chatterbox, Knox’s own little Tomboy Cap with the young, young come-on look!”

Lenny Bruce did use the phrase in his 1961 recording of Father Flotski’s Triumph, a story of a prison riot led by an inmate named Dutch. In the piece, the Warden says: “All right, Dutch. This is the Warden. You’ve got eighteen men down there – prison guards who have served me faithfully. Give up, Dutch, and we’ll meet any reasonable demands your men want… Can you hear me? This is the Warden.” Dutch responds: “Yada, yada, yada, yada, yada, yada, Warden.”

Bruce also used something very like the phrase in his Essential Lenny Bruce in 1967: “They’re no good, the lot of them – ‘Yaddeyahdah’ – They’re animals!”

Still others claim that the term “Yada yad” itself is first found in singer-songwriter Dory Previn’s album Mythical Kings and Iguanas in March 1971, which included the song Yada Yada La Scala:
Yada yada La Scala
yada yada yada yada yada
Let’s stop talking talking talking
wasting precious time
Just a lot of empty noise
that isn’t worth a dime
Words of wonder
words of whether
should we shouldn’t we
be together
Yada yada yada yada yada

Many will point out that the phrase was popularized in the United States in the late 1990s by the TV show Seinfeld, in which it appears as a catchphrase in the Season 8, Episode 19, entitled “The Yada Yada,” originally aired on 24 April 1997. In this episode, the story-line centers around the phrase (in the duplicative “yada yada” form). Since its pop-culture debut, we have added the phrase to our collective lexicon by saying “yada yada yada” when we want to gloss over sexual encounters, avoid incriminating details, or when cutting out parts of a story to get to the punch line. While this theory has some merit, I am certain that I heard the phrase long before the Seinfeld show.

In some quarters, the answer as to the origin of the phrase “yada, yada” is that it came from the word “yatter,” a British word meaning “idle talk, chatter.” I do not believe that many Americans are familiar with the word, but it is at least understandable how “yatter” might become “yada, yada” in British English and then cross the Atlantic in that form, but is it in any way the origin of the term? I doubt it.

There is further a theory that the word “yada” is a Hebrew word that means “to know.” Actually, the word is versatile and has several meanings depending on the context: yada can mean “is dedicating ourselves to a person so we can engage them with our love and affection.” Or yada can mean “understanding the needs of those around us and taking care of them.” Or yada can mean “faithfully living out our covenant relationship with the LORD in every area of our life.”

All of those versions, and including “yada yada,” probably took the lead from existing words meaning incessant talk – yatter, jabber, chatter.

Of all the theories, however, the one that I find most credible is that the words “yada, yada” are American in origin and emerged during or just after the Second World War. The words were preceded by various alternative forms – “ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta,” or “yaddega, yaddega.” I offer as my proof, a song that reached popularity, not in the 1990s, not even in 1947, but in 1945. The song is entitled Ya-Ta-Ta, Ya-Ta-Ta (Talk, Talk, Talk), written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke and was made popular by two recordings: by Judy Garland and Bing Crosby and by Harry James and his Orchestra, with Kitty Kallen handling the vocals.

The Crosby-Garland version of the song is a dialogue between the two. Each, in answer to a question, goes on and on and on and on – until the other says that the only way to stop the incessant talking is to kiss the other person. (Try getting away with that today. But, remember, this was 1945 and things were different, or at least more innocent, then.)

The Harry James version is certainly a nice enough version, but because it is a solo version, it lacks the bantering between the two principals and therefore is not as much fun as the Crosby-Garland rendering.

Judy Garland and Bing Crosby

Judy Garland and Bing Crosby

Here are the lyrics as performed by Garland and Crosby:
Crosby: Love your skimmer Judy, where did you grab it?

Garland: My hat?
Oh Bing, how nice of you to ask me that.
Because there’s a very interesting story
connected with this hat, there really is.
I was walking down the street the other day,
ran into Mllicent Palmer, you know Millicent Palmer,
a very dear friend of mine.

Crosby: How do I get involved?

Garland: Well we walked around the corner for what passes
for a millinery shop and she looked in the window and
saw my hat and said, “that is for you”
I went in, the saleslady put it on my head and I
thought it was a little matronly

Crosby: Time

Garland: oh… now … wait, no wait

Crosby: Cut
When I got my arm around you and we’re going for a walk
Must you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, talk, talk, talk
When we’re sitting close together in a cozy taxi cab
Must you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, gab, gab, gab
Aristotle, mathematics, economics, antique chairs
The classics, the comics, darling, who cares?
There’s a brand new moon this evening and the weather should be fine
If you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, same old line
I’ll politely close your lips with mine

Garland: How’s your golf Bing?

Crosby: My golf? Ho-ho I’m really moving that ball out there, striking it a ton.
I had a sixty-nine Sunday, should have been a sixty-five.
Terrific wind blowing, couldn’t drop a single putt, it was murder

Garland: Oh, I lost my head with this question

Crosby: …and of course the equipment, you just can’t get any golf balls anymore
the actors are hoarding them all…and the caddies, huh, they want an
annuity for eighteen holes. You’ve got to take an option on one to be sure
he’ll show up.

Garland: Cut

Crosby: Sorry

Garland: When the parlor lights are lowered and the family isn’t in
Must you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, chin, chin, chin
When there’s music softly playing and I’m sitting on your lap
Must you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, yap, yap, yap
Forward passes, second baggers, or a jockey who is hot.
Or boxing, or hockey, darling, so what?

Crosby: I’ll attempt some other evening.

Garland: Well you can call for me at nine

Crosby: Calling?
But if you ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, same old line

Garland: What do you mean the same old line?

Crosby: Same line

Garland: You asked me about my hat,
You’ve been standing there for an hour and a half talking your big fat head off

Crosby: I thought….

Crosby: ….about golf

Crosby: I just….

Garland: You didn’t even let me finish my story….

Crosby: I told you what I would do

Garland: Oh darling, let me finish

Crosby: Steady, steady

Garland: Oh

Crosby and Garland: It’s so nice to close your lips with mine.

To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, click on the song title, and then right click on Save target as
Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, Joseph Lilley and his Orchestra Yah-Ta-Ta
Harry James and his Orchestra, vocals by Kitty Kallen Ya-Ta-Ta

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music

A Happy Land. . . Somewhere

Where the skies look down on a friendly town. . .

Where the skies look down on a friendly town. . .(Watercolor by Vernon P. Johnson)

There is a sub-genre of popular music that is called “inspirational music.” And while there are a few exceptions, the perspective of such music is almost exclusively Christian, with its references to church bells, chapels, and cathedrals. Such music includes I Believe In Miracles (1935), There’s A Gold Mine In The Sky (1937), Cathedral In The Pines (1938), God Bless America (1939), Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition (1942), Light a Candle In The Chapel (1942), and Crying In The Chapel (1953), to mention just some of the more popular songs in this genre.

Also in this category is a song written in 1944 by David Kapp, Charles Tobias entitled, Just A Prayer Away. This “inspirational piece” is a World War Two song that declares that the end of the war is “just a prayer away.”

It seems that comedian Eddie Cantor was thinking much the same thing when he declared in a March 1945 radio broadcast the following: “You know victory is just a prayer away. The physical implements of war are speeding to our men in ever-increasing strength. But let us send them, too, the spiritual implements. Our faith, our love, our prayers. Let us go to our churches … now, today, tomorrow. You to yours, I to mine … God is always there … and peace may come one day sooner if you will work for it and pray for it at your church, synagogue and at home. The church lives for you. In lands of tyranny, when all the institutions of civilization – science, art and government – succumbed to the will of the oppressor, it was religion that alone stood out and resisted evil. So let us fill the churches with our prayers for a just and lasting peace … Let our pleas be heard around the world so that within the churches of the conquered countries they will hear and know that a greater day is coming for all people … everywhere. That through prayer we will be united … with peace on earth … and good will toward men of good will.”

Just A Prayer Away reached #4 on the Billboard charts in April, 1945. The big hit recording was that of Bing Crosby, although Sammy Kaye’s version was also popular, peaking at #10 the same year.

In the song, it is the understanding of the narrator that prayer can bring one to a place where that person will be more content:
There’s a happy land somewhere
And it’s just a prayer away
All I’ve dreamed and planned is there. . .
The words sound as if they are an illusion to heaven, but as the song continues, the focus seems to be contentment in the present life. In this happy land:
Where the skies look down on a friendly town
Filled with laughing children at play. . .

Written in 1944, the lyrics appear to be sung from the viewpoint of an American serviceman overseas looking forward to the day when he returns home. He longs for the “somewhere”:
Where my heart will sing, for it means one thing
I’ll be home at the close of each day. . .

It seems a bit ironic to me that the song is so vague about the location of the “happy land somewhere,” considering the narrator’s probable viewpoint and the galvanizing support for our going to a war that was a “just war.” A clear patriotic meaning would have made more sense, given the timing of the song’s release.

Here are the complete lyrics of the David Kapp and Charles Tobias song:
There’s a happy land somewhere
And it’s just a prayer away
All I’ve dreamed and planned is there
And it’s just a prayer away

Where the skies look down on a friendly town
Filled with laughing children at play
Where my heart will sing, for it means one thing
I’ll be home at the close of each day
There’s a happy land somewhere
And it’s just a prayer away

(Where the skies look down on a friendly town)
(Filled with laughing children at play)

Where my heart will sing, for it means one thing
I’ll be home at the close of each day
There’s a happy land somewhere
And it’s just a prayer away

To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as
Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers, Ethel Smith at the Organ, and Victor Young and his Orchestra Just A Prayer Away
(Swing and Sway with) Sammy Kaye, vocals by Billy Williams and the Kaye Choir Just A Prayer Away

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music

Of This and That – and Cocktails for Two . . .Clink! Clink!

Cocktails for Two  by Ted Cowart

Cocktails for Two
by Ted Cowart

Cocktails For Two is a pop song by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow. The song was originally introduced by Danish singer Carl Brisson, Paramount Pictures’ replacement for Maurice Chevalier in 1934’s Murder at the Vanities. This romantic ode to legalized liquor became immensely popular when it materialized after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment that banned alcohol in 1933. The song was later used in the 1947 Paramount film, Ladies Man, starring Eddie Bracken and Cass Daley. Duke Ellington’s version of the song was recorded in 1934. Other covers include Zarah Leander’s Swedish version for Odeon in 1934, Tommy Dorsey’s swing version for Victor on 31 October 1938, and Bing Crosby’s performance for CBS radio on 20 June1955. Over the years, the song inspired several parodies, including the immaculately off-key reading from 1960 by Jo Stafford and Paul Weston (as Jonathan and Darlene Edwards).
Sheet music for Cocktails For Two

Sheet music for Cocktails For Two

The opening moments of the song speak to the song’s origin. Mentioned discreetly in the song’s introduction is the line that people could be “carefree and gay once again” and “No longer slinking, respectfully drinking/Like civilized ladies and men.” The song seems to imply that it is the availability of liquor that makes the world safe and calm, painting a quiet picture of lovebirds enjoying their cocktails. As originally intended, the song played like a sigh of relief.

Of all the many versions of the song, however, Cocktails For Two is best remembered today due to the irreverent, comic, and sound effects-laden version by Spike Jones and His City Slickers. The City Slickers first recorded the song in 1944 with Carl Grayson supplying the vocal. It was their biggest all-time hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard charts. Cocktails For Two may just be Spike Jones’ finest moment – a rare example of where popular music and novelty overlap and are embraced by the record-buying public.

Spike Jones

Spike Jones

Spike Jones obviously had great fun with this song that featured the vocalizations of “glugmaster” Carl Grayson. Jones was quick to showcase Grayson’s comic vocal talents and ability to make weird sound effects, one of which was known as the “glug.” The best way to describe this sound is that it is the closest a human can come to swallowing his tongue without having to be hospitalized afterwards. The first use of this effect on record is on the tune Siam, although this is considered only a mild glug. The glugmeister took over a great deal of the vocal duties from Del Porter, who had been singing most everything in the band’s repertoire up until then. Of the six gold records earned by Spike Jones, two have vocals by Grayson, namely Cocktails For Two and Der Fuehrer’s Face. Carl Grayson is a model of how to sing while grinning.

It is often said that in order to properly satirize something, one must first reach the level of the original. Spike Jones already knew how a pop song was supposed to sound, and the first forty seconds or so of Cocktails For Two sound as if he had hired Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians to sing this section of the piece. Tightly-harmonized women sing the opening lines over soft strings, met by a crooning male singer, who set the scene. For those opening moments, the song sounds remarkably like any other record from that period – neat, polished, and insufferably boring.

And then all Hell breaks loose!!

Picking up the tempo, the crooning male singer sings: “In some secluded rendezvous” – a whistle blows, a man screams, a gunshot fires, “That overlooks the avenue” – honking car horns in traffic, “With someone sharing a delightful chat” – nonsense babble is heard, “Of this and that and cocktails for two,” – everything stops for the light “clink-clink” toast of the cocktail classes. Even when things slow down a bit for the lyrics that are harder to illustrate sonically, the madness is back in full force for the musical break, turning from an orchestra of rude mouth noises and hiccups to a searing Dixieland jazz band.

No matter how many times I listen to this record, it still strikes me how busy and varied of a sound Jones is able to create. Every honk, every whistle, every hiccup, and every clink is right where it should be, creating a sound that, while sonically silly, is musically flawless.

Spike Jones did not so much ridicule or destroy the song as he turned it completely inside-out. In his hands, Cocktails For Two is a fast, tight, and very precise record that manages to sound loose, funny, and carefree. While the composers of the piece probably would disagree, to accomplish that feat, Jones had to be some kind of a musical genius. There is simply no other word to describe what he created.

Here are the lyrics to the song (without the sound effects, of course)
Oh what delight to be given the right
To be carefree and gay once again
No longer slinking, respectfully drinking
Like civilized ladies and men

No longer need we miss
A charming scene like this:
In some secluded rendezvous,
That overlooks the avenue,
With someone sharing a delightful chat,
Of this and that,
And cocktails for two.

As we enjoy a cigarette,
To some exquisite chansonette,
Two hands are sure to slyly meet beneath a serviette,
With cocktails for two.

My head may go reeling,
But my heart will be obedient,
With intoxicating kisses,
For the principal ingredient,

Most any afternoon at five,
We’ll be so glad we’re both alive,
Then maybe fortune will complete her plan,
That all began
With cocktails for two

The song was recorded by several artists, but three versions (Duke Ellington, Johnny Green, and Will Osborne) charted on the Billboard charts in 1934 and the Spike Jones version charted in 1945. (Sorry, I do not have the Osborne version.) To listen to a song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as

Charted Versions
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra Cocktails For Two
Johnny Green and his Orchestra, vocals by Howard Phillips Cocktails For Two
Spike Jones and His City Slickers, vocals by Carl Grayson Cocktails For Two

Non-charted Versions
Carl Brisson (from the 1934 movie Murder at the Vanities) Cocktails For Two
Zarah Leander (1934) Cocktails For Two
Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (1938) Cocktails For Two
Bing Crosby (1955 radio show) Cocktails For Two
Jonathan and Darlene Edwards Cocktails For Two

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music

An Unlikely Pair – But It Worked!

don't fence me in

It was one of the more unusual combinations in show-biz history: a folksy cowboy star and a cosmopolitan song writer. The folksy cowboy star was Roy Rogers, billed as “The King of the Cowboys.” The cosmopolitan song writer was Cole Porter, composer of such sophisticated pieces as Night and Day, I Get a Kick Out of You, Well, Did You Evah!, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, You’re the Top. You’d Be So Easy to Love, In the Still of the Night, True Love, I Love Paris, Begin The Beguine, and Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love).

This unlikely pair – Cole Porter and Roy Rogers – combined to introduce the song Don’t Fence Me In, containing some of the most un-Porter like lyrics this brilliant tunesmith ever wrote. The song is about a footloose and fancy-free individual who refuses to settle down. The year was 1944 and the song was introduced in the Warner Brothers film, Hollywood Canteen.

Originally written for an unproduced 20th Century Fox musical, Adios Argentina, in 1934, the song was based on a text by engineer and poet Robert (“Bob”) Fletcher, who worked with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana. Fletcher sold the poem for $250 to Porter, who adapted it into a song and planned to give Fletcher credit as co-writer. Porter’s publishers refused to allow that, but after the song became a hit, a habitual litigant named Ira Arnstein went so far as to sue Porter for plagiarism, though he failed to prove his case. Eventually, Fletcher was given co-authorship credit in subsequent publications of the song. Although it was one of the most popular songs of its time, Porter claimed it was his least favorite of his own compositions.

Porter’s revision of the song retained quite a few portions of Fletcher’s lyrics, such as “Give me land, lots of land,” “… breeze … cottonwood trees,” “turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle,” “mountains rise … western skies,” “cayuse,” “where the west commences,” and “… hobbles … can’t stand fences,” but in some places, Porter modified the words to give them “the smart Porter touch.”(Incidentally, That strange word, “cayuse” in the lyrics denotes an archaic term used in the American West, usually referring to a low-quality horse or pony.) Porter substituted some whole lines, rearranged lyric phrases, added two verses, and composed his own music for it. Porter’s verse about Wildcat Kelly was not included in most of the hit recordings of the song. However, Roy Rogers did refer to “Wildcat Willy” when he performed the song in 1944’s Hollywood Canteen and Horace Heidt’s version includes the verse. Both versions are heard below.

The final lyrics of the song, including the reference to Wildcat Kelly, are as follows:
Wildcat Kelly was lookin’ mighty pale
Standin’ by the sheriff’s side
When that sheriff said I’m taking you to jail
Wildcat raised his head and cried. . .

Oh give me land, lots of land
Under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in

Let me ride through the wide
Open spaces that I love
Don’t fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose
Let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies

On my cayuse
Let me wander over yonder
Where the purple mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge when the west commences
Gaze at the moon ’til I lose my senses
Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

Though Adios Argentina was never produced, Warner Brothers resurrected Don’t Fence Me In for Roy Rogers to sing in the 1944 film Hollywood Canteen, starring Joan Leslie, Robert Hutton, and Dane Clark. The film was written and directed by Delmer Daves, and was notable for featuring over sixty movie stars (appearing as themselves) in cameo roles. The East Coast counterpart to the Hollywood Canteen was the Stage Door Canteen, celebrated in a 1943 RKO film.The basic plot of Hollywood Canteen revolves around two soldiers on leave who spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before returning to active duty in the South Pacific. Slim Green (Robert Hutton) is the one millionth G.I. to enjoy the Canteen, and consequently wins a date with Joan Leslie. The other G.I., Sergeant Nolan (Dane Clark) has a dance with Joan Crawford. Canteen founders Bette Davis and John Garfield give talks on the history of the Canteen. The soldiers enjoy a variety of musical numbers performed by a host of Hollywood stars, and also comedians, such as Jack Benny and his violin. Among those entertaining at the Hollywood Canteen are Roy Rogers. Don’t Fence Me In is sung by Rogers and danced by Trigger, billed as “the smartest horse in the movies.” Additionally, the song is also performed in the film by the Andrews Sisters, and played as a dance number by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra.

Joan Crawford and John Garfield in a scene from "Hollywood Canteen"

Joan Crawford and Dane Clark in a scene from Hollywood Canteen

In 1945, the song was sung again as the title tune of another Roy Rogers film, Republic Studios’ Don’t Fence Me In, considered one of Roy Rogers best films. In the film, Dale Evans plays a magazine reporter who comes to Roy Rogers’ and George “Gabby” Hayes’ ranch to research her story about a legendary late gunslinger. When it is revealed that Gabby Hayes is actually the supposedly dead outlaw, Rogers must clear his name. Rogers and The Sons of the Pioneers perform songs, including the Cole Porter title tune.
Movie poster for "Don't Fence Me In"

Movie poster for
Don’t Fence Me In

Many people heard the song for the first time when Kate Smith introduced it on her radio broadcast of 8 October 1944. Don’t Fence Me In was also recorded by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters in 1944. The Crosby/Andrews Sisters version later sold more than a million copies and topped the Billboard charts for eight weeks in 1944–45.

Several recordings of Don’t Fence Me In charted on the Billboard charts. To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as
Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen and his Orchestra Don’t Fence Me In
(Swing and Sway with) Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra, vocals by Billy Williams Don’t Fence Me In
Kate Smith, with 4 Chicks and a Chuck, orchestra under the direction of Jack Miller Don’t Fence Me In
Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights, vocals by Gene Walsh, the Sweetswingsters, and the Glee Club Don’t Fence Me In
Gene Autry (Billboard Country charts) Don’t Fence Me In
Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers (from the soundtrack of Hollywood Canteen) Don’t Fence Me In

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music