Thursday, October 20, 2016

10/20/1928: Al Jolson goes to #1 with “Sonny Boy”

image from thefotoartist.com


Al Jolson “Sonny Boy”


Writer(s): Ray Henderson/ Buddy DeSylva/ Lew Brown/ Al Jolson (see lyrics here)

First charted: 10/13/1928

Peak: 112 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US (1.0 in sheet music sales)

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


Review: Jolson was rehearsing for The Singing Fool, his follow-up to the first sound picture, 1927’s The Jazz Singer, when he needed to replace a song. He phoned the writing team of Henderson, DeSylva, and Brown with his request and they had a song ready the next morning. It has been suggested that the song they wrote, “Sonny Boy,” was intended as a joke, TY-45 but their “joke”ended up the biggest hit of 1928 WHC-43 and the biggest hit of Jolson’s career. That was no small feat, considering it was his twenty-first of twenty three #1 songs. PM-233

In 1928, Ruth Etting (#6) and Jan Garber (#14) also found chart success with the song. In 1929, Gene Austin took it to #12 and in 1941 the Andrews Sisters revived the song with their #22 version. PM-583 Ruth Brown, Petula Clark, John MacCormack, Mandy Patinkin, and Paul Robeson also recorded the song. WK

“Sonny Boy” was an intergral part of P.G. Wodehouse’s short story “Jeeves and the Song of Songs,” which was dramatized on the British TV series Jeeves and Wooster (“Tuppy and the Terrier,” season 1, episode 2).

Singer Eddie Fisher, who was born the year of the song’s release, was called “Sonny Boy” by his family. He shared in his autobiography that even after he’d gained fame in marrying Elizabeth Taylor, making $40,000 a week in Las Vegas, and hanging out with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Rocky Marciano, the nickname stuck. WK


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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.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hopefuls

image from neufutur.com

Note: this list was originally presented October 21, 2011. It has been updated to exclude acts which have subsequently been inducted.

Bashing the Rock Hall has become the quite vogue thing to do. Of course, they have inducted hundreds of deserving artists alongside those who raise many music fans eyebrows. However, fans get outraged this time every year when their favorites get snubbed…yet again.

In the true spirit of Dave’s Music Database, the occasion for a list presented itself. Just who are the biggest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snubs, those acts which fans most think have been overlooked? 49 lists were consolidated to create the DMDB list of 100 deserving acts. Here we go:

1. The Moody Blues
2. Yes
3. Journey
4. Electric Light Orchestra
5. The Cure
6. The Cars
7. T-Rex
8. Iron Maiden
9. Judas Priest
10. Bon Jovi

11. Def Leppard
12. Motorhead
13. Depeche Mode
14. Pat Benatar
15. The Smiths
16. The Doobie Brothers
17. Roxy Music
18. Joy Division
19. Bad Company
20. Warren Zevon

21. New York Dolls
22. Jethro Tull
23. Todd Rundgren
24. The Replacements
25. Chic
26. The Zombies
27. Boston
28. Peter Frampton
29. Kraftwerk
30. Dire Straits

31. Joe Cocker
32. Emerson, Lake & Palmer
33. The Guess Who
34. Thin Lizzy
35. MC5
36. Devo
37. Duran Duran
38. Foreigner
39. The Monkees
40. Motley Crue

41. King Crimson
42. Janet Jackson
43. Styx
44. Big Star
45. Gram Parsons
46. The B-52’s
47. Dick Dale
48. Three Dog Night
49. Steppenwolf
50. The Scorpions

51. Pixies
52. War
53. Ted Nugent
54. Sonic Youth
55. Jimmy Buffett
56. Slayer
57. Nine Inch Nails
58. Love
59. Soundgarden
60. Captain Beefheart

61. Joan Baez
62. Blue Oyster Cult
63. J. Geils Band
64. Spinners
65. Los Lobos
66. Link Wray
67. Tommy James & the Shondells
68. Grand Funk Railroad
69. Kate Bush
70. Barry White

71. Weird Al Yankovic
72. Little Feat
73. New Order
74. Ozzy Osbourne
75. X
76. Carole King (as a performer)
77. Pantera
78. Nick Drake
79. Black Flag
80. Afrika Bambaataa

81. Procol Harum
82. Mott the Hoople
83. Megadeth
84. Eric B. & Rakim
85. Harry Nilsson
86. Johnny Burnette & The Rock N’ Roll Trio
87. The Flying Burrito Brothers
88. Pearl Jam
89. Television
90. Donovan

91. Brian Eno
92. Dead Kennedys
93. Whitney Houston
94. LL Cool J
95. Badfinger
96. Ben E. King
97. Jim Croce
98. The Runaways
99. The Clovers
100. Eurythmics


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Friday, October 14, 2016

10/14/1905: “In My Merry Oldsmobile” hits #1

image from Wikipedia.org


Billy Murray “In My Merry Oldsmobile”


Writer(s): Vincent Bryan, Gus Edwards (see lyrics here)

First charted: 10/14/1905

Peak: 17 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

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


Review: In 1905, two Oldsmobiles embarked on a cross-country race to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon SS-585 at a time when the automobile was still a relatively new and unpopular gadget. TR-316 The month-and-a-half journey through mud and rough terrain in the pre-roads era generated daily newspaper coverage on a national level. TR-316

“In My Merry Oldsmobile” was inspired by the event, becoming the “first successful Tin Pan Alley song written about an automobile” RCG and “the defining song for automobile related transportation theme music.” PS Vincent Bryan, who “was considered by Tin Pan Alley as one of the best professional lyricists of his time,” TR-316 “penned the lyrics in the form of a marriage proposal. RCG

The German-born Gus Edwards “composed the rock-like waltz music” RCG Edwards couldn’t read or write music and taught himself to play piano. He wrote his first song in 1898, formed his own music publishing company by 1905, and is known as “one of our greatest vaudevillians.” TR-316

Edwards popularized the song in his vaudeville act. RCG Two versions of the song charted in 1905 – first by Billy Murray (#1) and then Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan (#7). PM-528 In 1927, Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra revived the song. JA-101 Bing Crosby, Les Brown, and Jo Stafford also made well-known recordings of it RCG and it was used in the 1944 movie The Merry Monihans. The song served for years as “an unpaid-for commercial for Oldsmobile” TR-316 and was eventually adopted as the manufacturer’s theme song. TR-316 Despite requests from Edwards, he could never convince the company to give him one of their automobiles. JA-101


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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.


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Thursday, October 13, 2016

10/13/1928: Cliff Edwards hits #1 with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”

image from youtube.com


Cliff Edwards “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”


Writer(s): Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields (see lyrics here)

First charted: 9/15/1928

Peak: 11 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.5 US (sheet music sales)

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


Review: The song has been rumored to have originally been called “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Lindy,” in honor of Charles Lindburgh’s historic transatlantic flight. RCG However, lyricist Dorothy Fields’ account suggests otherwise. She said this song was inspired by a conversation she overheard between a black couple gazing at the jewelry in a Tiffany’s display window in which the man said, “Gee, honey, I can’t give you anything but love.” SB

Initially unpublished, the song resurfaced in the flop 1927 revue Delmar’s Revels. JA-81 The scene featured Bert Lahr and Patsy Kelly as a couple of poor kids sitting on the front steps of a tenement building. The song was removed after the first night because Harry Delmar hated it. SB However, Fields and McHugh didn’t give up on it, using it again in Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1928, where it was performed by Aida Ward (later replaced by Adelaide Hall), and Willard McLean, and Bill Robinson. TY-43

The song charted four times in 1928 – Cliff Edwards took it to #1 under the “Ukelele Ike” moniker, but other versions charted as well – Ben Selvin (#2), Johnny Hamp (#4), and Seger Ellis (#19). In 1929, it hit the charts two more times in renditions by Gene Austin and Nat Shilkret, who both took it to #12. Other versions charted in 1936 and 1948 – respectively by Teddy Wilson featuring Billie Holiday (#5) and another version by Rose Murphy (#13).

Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and Fats Waller recorded the song as well. JA-81 By the mid-‘60s, more than 450 recordings had been made. TY-43 Katharine Hepburn sang it in the 1938 romantic comedy Bringing Up Baby. JA-81 Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney sang it in the Broadway hit Sugar Babies and it was also featured in the 1978’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, a tribute to Waller. MM-162 There have been claims that Waller actually wrote the music and sold it to Jimmy McHugh, but this is doubtful considering how similar this song is in style to other McHugh works. RCG


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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.


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Monday, October 3, 2016

10/3/1936: Fred Astaire hits #1 with “The Way You Look Tonight”

image from youtube.com


Fred Astaire with Johnny Green's Orchestra “The Way You Look Tonight”


Writer(s): Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields (see lyrics here)

First charted: 8/29/1936

Peak: 16 US, 16 HP, 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: The 1936 Academy Award winner for Best Song was crooned by Fred Astaire to Ginger Rodgers in Swing Time while she shampooed her hair. In the movie, she emerges from the bathroom in a robe, so smitten by his declaration of love that she forgets about her lathered-up scalp. When he looks up from the piano after the last line, he’s startled to see her there. She flees in embarrassment, now aware of her sudsy look.

The moment made for a cute, romantic moment which perfectly fit Dorothy Fields’ “gentle lyric [which] made the song as singable to a child as to a sweetheart.” MM-154 Fields started crying when Jerome Kern first played her the melody. “I couldn’t stop,” she said. “It was so beautiful.” SB

Astaire charted with the song in 1936 (#1), as did Guy Lombardo (#3) and Teddy Wilson with Billie Holiday (#3). Benny Goodman charted (#21) with it in 1942. It has also been recorded by Betty Buckley, John Coltrane, Neil Diamond, Billy Eckstine, the Lettermen, and Betty Carter with Ray Bryant on piano. MM-154 It has enjoyed additional movie success, most notably in the 1997 Julia Roberts’ film My Best Friend’s Wedding. MM-154

“Tonight” actually has no verse, which isn’t unusual for a Kern song, but at 44 bars, it is also a long song. SB The “long, open melody and characteristic key change” MM-154 has made the song “a jazz and cabaret standard.” JA-206


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.


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