Friday, February 15, 2013

100 years ago: “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’” hit #1

When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’

Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan

Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 8, 1913

Peak: 16 US, 11 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.01 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’” was “a syncopated, upbeat crowd pleaser.” TY2 This was one of several tunes Irving Berlin wrote “about the idealized South, a very popular topic in American culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This topic was a popular one among Tin Pan Alley writers at the time.” AY

It “was not about the train but about the means of getting back home, to the folks who think of him.” SM “According to the first verse of the song, a person is packing his things, giving the landlord back the key to the dreary flat, and getting ready to catch the train back home.” TY2

“In the chorus he claims he has his fare and will tell ‘that rusty-haired conductor man’ that he’s to stop the train in Alabam’. He intends to remain there with his honey-lamb.” TY2 In the second verse, the singer says he intends to ‘over-feed my face ‘cause I haven’t had a good meal since the day I went away.’ He is going to kiss his ‘Pa and Ma a dozen times for ev’ry star shining over Alabama’s new mown hay.’” TY2

Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan took the song to #1 in 1913. The Victory Military Band charted that same year with the song, reaching #9. PM Alice Faye performed the song in the 1938 movie musical Alexander’s Ragtime Band; Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sang it in 1948’s Easter Parade; and Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Mitzi Gaynor, and Donald O’Connor performed it in 1954’s There’s No Business Like Show Business.” TY2


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First posted 2/26/2023.

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