Dave's Music Database books

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

3/8/1930: “Happy Days Are Here Again” goes to #1

image from redmp3.su


Ben Selvin “Happy Days Are Here Again”


Writer(s): Milton Ager/ Jack Yellen (see lyrics here)

First charted: 3/1/1930

Peak: 12 US, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: “Happy Days” was originally written for the movie Chasing Rainbows and sung by Charles King and Bessie Love. JA-69 It accompanied a scene where World War I soldiers learn the war has ended. TY-47 Unfortunately, the song was cut from the film. When movie producer Irving Thalberg heard the song played at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, he wanted to know why such a great song wasn’t in the movies. When he found out it had been cut from one of his own films, he immediately had it put back. Unfortunately, the movie was a failure. RCG

However, the “bright and tuneful” RCG song which urged everyone to “sing a song of cheer again” found life beyond the film. The publishers took it to George Olsen, whose orchestra played it at the Pennsylvania Hotel Ballroom in Manhattan a few days after the October 1929 stock market crash. RCG Jack Yellen, the song’s lyricist, recalled the dining room being populated with “gloom-stricken diners.” Olsen directed his singers to “sing it for the corpses” and, according to Yellen, “after a couple of choruses, the corpses joined in…[and] before the night was over, the hotel lobby resounded with what had become the theme song of ruined stock speculators as they leaped from hotel windows.” SS-364

The song became an unofficial anthem for the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt used it in his 1932 Presidential campaign and it was adopted by the Democratic party SB as their “unofficial theme song for years to come,” WK being used again in campaigns by Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. RCG

Three versions of the song charted in 1930. Ben Selvin and Benny Meroff each took it to the top; Leo Reisman’s orchestra, with a vocal from Lou Levin, hit #3. Judy Garland adopted the song as an allegory of her life. RCG The song has been featured on more than 70 commercially-released albums and in more than 80 films. WK Some of the notable recordings were by Mitch Miller and Barbra Streisand. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):


Thursday, March 3, 2016

3/3/1945: Les Brown charts with “Sentimental Journey”

image from allmusic.com


Les Brown with Doris Day “Sentimental Journey”


Writer(s): Bud Green, Les Brown, Ben Homer (see lyrics here)

First charted: 3/3/1945

Peak: 19 US, 14 HP, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: Sentimental indeed. When she first saw the sheet music, Doris Day commented, “What a lovely title,” to which Les Brown responded “Wait till you hear it.” SS-375 “The song’s aching nostalgia struck a chord in a nation welcoming its boys back from the front lines,” TM becoming “one of a handful of songs that summed up romantic longing during World War II.” SS-375 Will Friedwald called it “the definitive end-of-war song,” SS-375 “a song that helped define an era.” SS-375

Doris Day’s “honey with a dash of pepper” TM voice compelled one “to pack your bag and join her on that journey home.” TM “In the lilting fox-trot…and in Arthur Green’s swinging sen-tuh-men-tul phrasing — you can almost see the locomotive wheels chugging, hear the steam spurting from the smokestack and feel the second-class coach swaying back and forth as the train makes its way down the tracks.” TM

The top hit of 1945 TY-125 launched the career of then-twenty-year-old Doris Day as a solo artist and America’s sweetheart. It would be the biggest hit of her career as well as Les Brown, the orchestra leader credited with the song. Stunningly, the record could potentially have been even bigger. According to George Simon in the December 1946 issue of Metronome, war restrictions prevented Columbia Records from pressing more copies of the song to maximize its potential. SS-376 On top of that, Les Brown and His Band of Renown performed the song for awhile, but couldn’t record it because of the musicians’ strike of 1942 to 1944. WK

Brown adopted the million-seller as his theme song TY-125 and Ringo Starr later used it as the title cut for his 1970 debut solo album, a collection of standards. JA-170 It became a jazz standard and was recorded by numerous artists, including Booker T. & the MG’s, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Harry James, The Platters, Frank Sinatra, and Amy Winehouse. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):