Tuesday, July 15, 1986

50 years ago: Benny Goodman hit #1 with “These Foolish Things”

These Foolish Things Remind Me of You

Benny Goodman’s Orchestra with Helen Ward

Writer(s): Harry Link and Jack Strachey (music), Eric Maschwitz, aka Holt Marvell (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 27, 1936

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

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.22 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Eric Maschwitz, the Head of Variety at the BBC, wrote the lyrics for “These Foolish Things” in the UK under the pseudonym Holt Marvell. He wrote it at the request of Joan Carr for a late-evening revue to be broadcast by the BBC. WK British cabaret singer Jean Ross, with whom Maschwitz had a fling, was the song’s muse, according to Maschwitz, although his wife Hermione Gingold speculated that it was about her or actress Anna May Wong. WK

Maschwitz wrote this as a list song, or catalog song, “delineating the various things that remind the singer of a lost love.” WK He “used the same type of complex rhyme scheme that Cole Porter used in ‘You’re the Top’ to enumberate the fleeting memories of young love.” TY2 American Harry Link is sometimes credited as a co-writer for contributing a bridge to the song. WK

It first appeared in the London revue Spread It Around, sung by Dorothy Dickson. SM Turner Layton, who was from the United States but based in Britain, was the first to record “These Foolish Things.” SM In the U.S., Teddy Wilson’s Orchestra recorded the “bittersweet nostalgic song” TY2 with Billie Holiday on vocals. However, it was Benny Goodman’s Orchestra, with Helen Ward on vocals, who was the first to chart with the song SM and take it to #1.

That same year, versions of the song charted by Nat Brandywynne and his Stork Club Orchestra with vocals from Buddy Clark (#6), pianist Carroll Gibbons with his orchestra (#8), and Joe Sanders’ Orchestra (#17). PM Others to record the song include Nat “King” Cole, Sam Cooke, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Ward & His Dominoes, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Bryan Ferry, Etta James, Frankie Laine, Aaron Neville, Sarah Vaughan, and Rod Stewart (#13 AC, 2002). WK

The song was used in the movie musical Ghost Catchers in 1944 TY2 and in the Humphrey Boart movie Tokyo Joe in 1949. WK In 1946, Frank Sinatra would take the song to #1 in the UK. SM


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First posted 3/17/2023.

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