Friday, September 10, 1971

50 years ago: Van & Schenck hit #1 “Ain’t We Got Fun?”

Ain’t We Got Fun?

Van & Schenck

Writer(s): Gus Kahn, Raymond B. Egan, Richard Whiting (see lyrics here)


Released: July 1921


First Charted: August 13, 1921


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


Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

As Don Tyler says in his book Hit Parade 1920-1955, this foxtrot from the Roaring Twenties “would have made a good theme song for those hellbent on seeking the fun typical of the era.” TY It “mixes zesty music with a nonsense lyric” RCG about “young people enjoying the times even as a bill collector knocks on the door.” RCG The song also reminds listeners that while the 1920s were typically viewed as a time of economic growth, there was a short depression in 1920-21. The song shows, though, that “despite tough times, most people are resilient and cope with the bad times.” PS Sometimes they can even do it with a sense of humor, showcased by lines like “the rich get richer and the poor get children.”

Arthur West first performed the song in the revue Satires of 1920 JA and George Watts introduced it in vaudeville. TY Then Ruth Roye and the duo of Gus Van and Joe Schenck helped popularize it. TY The latter were a comedy-musical team who not only found success in vaudeville, but Broadway and radio. PM They also had the most successful chart run with the song with their #1 version in 1921. PM

Two other versions charted in 1921-22: the Benson Orchestra of Chicago took it to #9 and Billy Jones hit #12. PM However, the song has been recorded by many big names over the years. According to lyricsplayground.com, some of the artists who have recorded this song include Chet Atkins, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards, Bob Hope, Al Jolson, Jack Kerouac, Peggy Lee, Gordon MacRae, Mitch Miler, Debbie Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke, and Margaret Whiting.

The song even figures into literature, including Dorothy Parker’s 1929 award-winning short story “Big Blonde” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby. SF It also showed up in the 1974 film adaptation of the latter, TY as well as in 1953’s By the Light of the Silvery Moon TY and 1951’s I’ll See You in My Dreams. The latter was a biopic about Gus Kahn, one of the song’s lyricists. JA Eddie Cantor sang it for the 1953 soundtrack for The Eddie Cantor Story. JA Woody Allen also used the song in the 1983 film Zelig. WK Carnival Cruise Lines also used the song in the 1990s in their commercials. JA-5


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First posted 8/3/2012; last updated 11/20/2022.

Thursday, September 9, 1971

John Lennon released Imagine: September 9, 1971

Originally posted September 9, 2012.

image from sorrowdiess.deviantart.com


Release date: 9 September 1971
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Imagine (10/23/71, #3 US, #1 UK, #20 AR, #7 AC) / Crippled Inside / Jealous Guy (11/30/85, #80 US, #65 UK, #12 AR, #22 AC) / It’s So Hard / I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier / Gimme Some Truth / Oh My Love / How Do You Sleep? / How? / Oh Yoko!

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 11 US, 12 UK

Rating:


Review: Lennon’s “angsty Plastic Ono Band album has garnered the lion’s share of the acclaim” EK because Lennon “spoke those early critics’ language,” EK but this is his “most consistent solo work” TM and may be “his most important recording.” ZS Plastic Ono Band is “a searing personal statement in which a brilliant artist bares the depths of his soul, but Imagine is…a well-crafted collection of songs…to listen to on a Friday night.” EK He returns to “calmer, more conventional territory” AMG and strikes a “better balance…He’s still sour but it’s been tempered with a little sweetness.” JM “We get to see the many sides of a complicated man come together.” JM We see “four sides of Lennon clearly on display. We get Peacenik Lennon, Sharp-Tongued Lennon, Confessional Lennon, and Old School Rocker Lennon.” JM “The result is music defined by confrontation and conflict – yet at its core it retains a hint of touching school kid earnestness.” TM This is “self-analysis, love, venom, and politics with a backbeat.” ZS

Imagine

Peacenik Lennon makes appearances on the “hypnotic antiwar song” AMG I Don't Want to Be a Soldier and the title cut. “Outside of the Beatles, ‘Imagine’ is probably the first thing most people would connect with Lennon.” JM It is “a beautiful, multi-layered plea for everyone to see the humanity within each other” JM and envision “a world with no gods, possessions, or classes, where everyone is equal.” AMG It became “a career-defining standard” EK which was “a pretty different animal from Lennon’s more sloganeering anthems…Instead of creating an ‘us vs. them’ dichotomy, ‘Imagine’ challenges the listener to move beyond everything that our culture deems importance: materialism, nationalism, and our own concepts of heaven and hell.” EK

Jealous Guy

Confessional Lennon “showed himself capable of insane romanticism” CL with songs like “the aching confessional” TM Jealous Guy (“underneath the sweet strings…lies a broken and scared man)” AMG and Oh Yoko, which “has a sense of joy to it that makes it seem way more universal than a song with the word ‘Yoko’ in the title has any right to be.” EK On Oh My Love “the melody is absolutely gorgeous, straightforward but shot through with surprise chord changes and melodic flourishes, especially in the descending lines of the verses. Couple that with the sparse lyrics that repeat variations on a theme throughout the song…and you have…a lost classic.” EK

Sharp-Tongued Lennon “nearly ruins the album with the bullying How Do You Sleep,” EK lashing out at Paul McCartney. His bandmate “wasn’t dumping toxic waste or running a crooked old folks home; he was writing silly love songs and arguing about royalties or whatever. The song seems like a pretty egregious overreaction.” EK

Old School Rocker Lennon makes appearances with the “bitter hard rock” AMG of Give Me Some Truth and “the jaunty Crippled Inside,” AMG and “excellent honky-tonk social critique” JM framed in “a mocking assault at an acquaintance.” AMG

“If Imagine doesn't have the thematic sweep of Plastic Ono Band, it is nevertheless a remarkable collection of songs that Lennon would never be able to better again.” AMG


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Award(s):