When I Lost You
Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)
First Charted: April 5, 1913
Peak: 17 US, 12 GA, 16 SM (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.0 (sheet music)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.05 video, -- streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“In comparison…[to] ‘When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’’ or ‘Everybody’s Doing It Now’ or ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band,’ one would not guess that [Irving] Berlin had composed ‘When I Lost You,’” SM his first hit ballad. WK He had published 130 songs, but none had previously shown such an “ability to write with moving sentiment about his own personal pain.” TY2
In February 1912, Berlin married twenty-year-old Dorothy Goetz. She was an aspiring young singer who came to to the publishing office of Waterson, Berlin and Snyder in search of songs to sing, but got a date with Berlin instead. He proposed a few weeks later. TY2 On their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba, she contracted typhoid fever was dead within five months.
The lyrics from “When I Lost You” were a “simple and heartfelt” SM expression of grief from “a man who was used to composing uplifting songs.” SM It was the only song he admitted to having a connection to his own life. WK The lyrics talk about losing “The sunshine and roses, the heavens of blue / The beautiful rainbow, the morning dew / The angel who gave me summer / The whole winter too / The gladness that turned into sadness.” “Melodically, it was a simple waltz with bittersweet harmony that enhanced the melancholy of the lyrics.” TY2
Manuel Romain was the first to record the song and it reached #2 in 1913. However, it was Henry Burr who took it to the top of the charts. PM Others who recorded the song included Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, the Mills Brothers, Jim Reeves, Frank Sinatra, and Kay Starr. WK The song was used in the 2001 movie The Cat’s Meow.
First posted 2/27/2023.