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Ted Lewis “On the Sunny Side of the Street”
Writer(s): Jimmy McHugh/ Dorothy Fields (see lyrics here)
First charted: 4/5/1930
Peak: 2 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --
Review: This “cabaret and jazz standard” JA-152 and “metaphor for optimism” TY-56 was credited to composer Jimmy McHugh and lyricist Dorothy Fields although there have been claims that Fats Waller actually composed the song, but sold the rights. WK
In his book American Popular Song, author Alec Wilder calls the song “one of the jazz musicians’ favorites…Singers, as well, love it as much for its extremely fine lyric.” SB In The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards, Max Morath expresses a similar sentiment, saying the song “works both sides of the street, vocal and instrumental, with equal charm. Dorothy Field’s sassy lyrics (‘…leave your worries on your doorstep…’) invite singers to go for it.” MM-178
“On the Sunny Side of the Street” was introduced in 1930’s Lew Leslie’s International Revue, SB sung by Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. WK The Broadway show flopped, closing after only 95 performances, but the song endured. SB Richman took it to #13. Ted Lewis also charted with it (#2) the same month the Broadway show debuted. SB
The song resurfaced on the charts in 1945 with versions by Tommy Dorsey with the Sentimentalists on vocals (#16) and Jo Stafford with the Pied Pipers (#17). Frankie Laine sang it in 1949’s Make Believe Ballroom, and was used in at least seven film thrugh the late ‘50s. TY-56 Among the numerous artists to record the song are Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, the Coasters, Nat “King” Cole, Doris Day, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Gene Kelly, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, and Fats Waller.
Resources and Related Links:
- Ted Lewis’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- Dorothy Fields’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- Jimmy McHugh’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
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.