Friday, January 23, 2015

100 years ago: “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” hit #1 a second time

It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary

John McCormack

Writer(s): Jack Judge, Harry Williams (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 16, 1915

Peak: 18 US, 12 GA, 16 SM, 9 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2.5 video, 2.29 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Tipperary” was a British music hall song written in 1912 by Jack Judge. He wrote the song on a bet when someone dared him to write a new song the next day and perform it the same evening. That night, Judge overheard one man giving directions to another, saying, “it’s a long way to…” When Judge sang the song the next morning, a friend wrote down the musical notation for him. TY2 Harry Williams, another friend, got credit on the song because Judge had often borrowed money from Williams and Williams asked for credit if Judge ever wrote a best-selling song. TY2

Judge’s parents were Irish and his grandparents hailed from Tipperary, Ireland. During World War I, Daily Mail correspondent George Curnock witnessed Irish troops singing it while marching. It caught on with other units of the British Army as a lament on longing for home and eventually gained worldwide appeal. WK Although the song “really has nothing to do with war,” TY2 it became “a classic military song and has often been parodied through the decades.” DJ

Florrie Forde first sang the song on the British music hall stage in 1913 and the following year the song appeared in two Broadway musicals, sung by Montgomery and Stone in Chin-Chin and Al Jolson in Dancing Around. DJ That year, the American Quartet were the first to chart with the song in the U.S., hitting #1 for seven weeks. However, it was John McCormack, who has been called “the most famous Irish tenor of all time,” PM who had the most successful version. He made his operatic debut in Italy and became an American sensation in 1910. He first hit #1 in 1911 with a pair of songs, “I’m Falling in Love with Someone” and “Mother Machree.” His version of “Tipperary” spent eight weeks on top and become the biggest song of the year. CPM

Charles Adams Prince’s Orchestra and Albert Farrington also released versions of the song in 1915, peaking at #2 and #8 respectively. The song was featured in the the film On Moonlight Bay (1951), the musical and film Oh! What a Lovely War in the 1960s, and the musical Darling Lili (1970), which starred Julie Andrews. The German U-boat crew sings it to boost morale in the film Das Boot (1981). On the final episode of TV’s Mary Tyler Moore Show, the newsroom staff sing the song as they march off screen. The song also features in the television special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when Snoopy, pretending to be a World War I flying ace, dances to a medley of the era’s tunes as played by Shroeder. WK


First posted 1/23/2013; last updated 2/24/2023.

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