Click on a book to learn more about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Francis Craig's "Near You" Begins Its 17 Week Run at #1: August 30, 1947

It shouldn’t be a surprise that with 17 weeks at #1, Francis Craig’s “Near You” was ranked by Billboard magazine as the #1 song of 1947. WK That, however, wasn’t the song’s most significant achievement. Those 17 weeks also make “Near You” the biggest #1 pop song in Billboard history. In fact, Craig also held the record for more than 60 years for the artist with the most consecutive weeks at #1. He was surpassed in 2009 by the Black Eyed Peas – who took TWO songs to accomplish the feat with their back-to-back #1’s for “Boom Boom Pow” (12 weeks) and “I Gotta Feeling”(14 weeks). WK

Astonishingly, though, it was one of only two chart hits for Craig. When “Near You” charted, he was a has-been orchestra leader closing in on his 50th birthday. Francis Craig was a Nashville-based pianist and composer who had led bands since the 1920s, PM including a band at the city’s Hermitage Hotel which he’d led for 20 years. TY He was also a staff member of a Nashville radio station for 25 years, and was on NBC for 12 years TY with a Sunday night network program.

However his dance-band format was out of style in post World War II. Still, he decided to record his theme song, “Red Rose”, for Bullet Records. WK Needing a B-side, TY he also recorded “Near You”. He had written the melody as a gift for his grandchildren and was given an assist on the lyrics by New Yorker Kermit Goell. WK Blind singer and trumpeter Bob Lamm contributed the vocals. WK With 2.5 million copies sold, it was the first major hit on an independent label. PM

In 1977, George Jones and Tammy Wynette took the song back to the top – as a #1 country song. In 1959, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded an instrumental version of the song. WK Others who recorded the song included the Andrews Sisters (#4), Nat “King” Cole, Larry Green (#3), Elliot awrence (#9), Alvino Rey (#9), Andy Williams, and Roger Williams (#10, 1958). WK Milton Berle used “Near You” as his closer on his Texaco Star Theater. It became his theme song for years afterward. 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):


Sunday, August 28, 2016

8/28/1948: “Twelfth Street Rag” hits #1 more than 30 years after published

image from pinterest.com


Pee Wee Hunt “Twelfth Street Rag”


Writer(s): Euday L. Bowman, Andy Razaf

First charted: 6/28/1948

Peak: 18 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

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


Review: “Twelfth Street Rag” has an interesting history. It was first published in 1914 as a piano rag TY-136 by composer Euday L. Bowman. Years earlier, he was walking down 12th street with a friend known as “Raggedy Ed” who said he planned to open a pawn shop on the street. Bowman supposedly shot back that if his friend got rich from the shop, then Bowman would write a song to make himself rich. WK Since the song has become “the most recorded rag of all time,” JA-201 it would be fair to assume Bowman succeeded. No word on the pawn shop.

Actually, Bowman took more than 15 years to write down the music, finally selling it in 1913 to Jenkins Music Company. They thought the arrangement was too difficult and hired C.E. Wheeler to simplify it. WK In 1916, James S. Sumner added lyrics TY-136 and Earl Fuller got the song on the charts for the first time the following year, taking it to #7. Ted Lewis revived the song in 1923, reaching #14. In 1927, Bennie Moten and Louis Armstrong recorded it. WK In 1929, Spencer Williams added new lyrics. TY-136 In 1935, the song charted for a third time – this time with a #19 version by Fats Waller.

The song still wasn’t done transforming. Andy Razaf added new lyrics once again in 1942, TY-136 but it would be another six years before it charted again. This time, however, it had its greatest success. Pee Wee Hunt and his orchestra decided to record the song for Capitol Records. It went on to become one of the biggest records to date for the company, TY-136 selling more than three million and becoming the biggest-selling ragtime song of all time. JA-201

The song charted two more times by Frankie Carle (#10, 1948) and Liberace (#23, 1954). PM-599 The song was given yet another life when Big Tiny Little’s 1959 recording of the song became the theme for The Joe Franklin Show in the UK. WK The song also made appearances in the movie The English Patient (1996) and in the cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants. 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):


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

8/17/1918: “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody” hits #1

image from 45worlds.com


Al Jolson with the Charles Prince Orchestra “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”


Writer(s): Sam Lewis/ Joe Young/ Jean Schwartz (see lyrics here)

First charted: 8/10/1918

Peak: 18 US, 3 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

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


Review: Crooner Bing Crosby once said of “Broadway’s most charismatic performer,” “Nobody could sell a song like Jolson.” LW-40 “Rock-a-Bye” was one of his signature songs, debuting alongside 26 other musical numbers in the stage play Sinbad. PS The show, which starred Jolson in his familiar black face, LW-40 opened at the Winter Garden on February 14, 1918 and ran for 164 performances. PS

Jean Schwartz, who was a native Hungarian, wrote the music. His sister had studied under composer Franz Liszt and taught Schwartz to play piano. LW-40 The lyrics were penned by Tin Pan Alley writers Sam Lewis and Joe Young, who also wrote for the vaudeville circuit and penned hits such as “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and “Sitting on Top of the World.” Lewis had previously worked as a cafĂ© singer while Young demoed songs for publishing houses. LW-40 The “Stephen Foster sound-a-like song” even mentions the famous writer’s “Old Black Joe” and “Swanee River.” RCG

Jolson took the song to #1 in 1918; that same year Arthur Fields’ version went to #9. Jolson integrated the song in his vaudeville act and performed the song in three films – 1939’s Rose of Washington Square, 1946’s The Jolson Story, and 1946’s Jolson Sings Again. The song was also featured in 1929’s The Show of Shows and 1944’s The Merry Monahans. PS

The song resurfaced in 1956 as a top ten, million-selling hit for comedian Jerry Lewis JA-165 and Aretha Franklin hit #37 with he song in 1961. Cher, Sammy Davis Jr., Connie Francis, Judy Garland, and Brenda Lee also recorded versions. RCG


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):


Friday, August 5, 2016

8/5/1944: Bing Crosby hits #1 with “Swinging on a Star”

image from music.meo.pt


Bing Crosby with the Williams Brothers Quartet “Swinging on a Star”


Writer(s): Jimmy Van Heusen/ Johnny Burke (see lyrics here)

First charted: 5/13/1944

Peak: 19 US, 1 GA, 2 HP, 1 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

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


Review: Composer Jimmy Van Heusen was at Bing Crosby’s house for dinner specifically to discuss plan’s for a song for the impending movie Going My Way, starring Crosby. Bing’s son complained about not wanting to go to school the next day, to which Dad replied, “If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?” WK Van Heusen relayed the remark to lyricist Johnny Burke, WK who turned it into the line “By the way if you hate to go to school/ You may grow up to be a mule.”

The movie, which featured Crosby as a young Catholic priest, was one of his best-loved performances. Crosby sings the song a group of children at St. Dominic’s Church TY-117 who are behaving much as his own son had the night Van Heusen had come to dinner. WK The tune amusingly became a favorite for young listeners, JA-187 but had plenty of adult fans as well – it won the Academy Award for Best Song.

Crosby recorded “Swinging on a Star” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Williams Brothers Quartet, which included 7-year-old Andy Williams, a future singing star himself. PM-109 It became the biggest hit of 1944. WHC-63 Others who’ve recorded the song include Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Burl Ives, Shari Lewis, Maureen McGovern, Oscar Peterson, and Frank Sinatra. WK

The song resurfaced multiple times in television in film, including a Little Lulu cartoon (1947), a performance from Jimmy Dean and Rowlf the Dog (a muppet) on the Jimmy Dean Show (1967), Sesame Street (Susan with muppets, 1969), and Julie Andrews’ television special My Favorite Things (1975). It became the theme song for the TV series Out of This World (1987) and Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello performed it in the film Hudson Hawk (1991). 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):