In the Good Old Summertime
Writer(s): Ren Shields, George Evans (see lyrics here)
First Charted: February 28, 1903
Peak: 16 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music sales)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.24 video, -- streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
Comedian Ren Shields and black-faced minstrel George “Honey Boy” Evans wrote what has been called “the signature song for summer.” PS The song grew out of a Sunday trip to the beach with singer-actress Blanche Ring. When Evans remarked that he liked “the good old summertime” Shields said it would make a great song title. Shields worked up lyrics and Evans improvised a basic melody. Ring assisted him in writing it down and arranging it for piano since he couldn’t write a note of music. RA
Shields and Evans shopped the song to several music publishers, but none wanted a song doomed to a three-month lifespan. Then Ring offered to perform it in her Broadway show The Defender. RA The show opened in the Herald Square Theater on July 3, 1902 PS and closed in less than two months. However, thanks to its “happy, singable melody with easy to remember lyrics” PS “Summertime” proved to have a much longer life than publishers speculated, becoming “a perennial seasonal favorite.” JA
J.W. Myer included the song in his vaudeville act RCG and took it to #1. His was one of five versions to hit the top three of the U.S. pop charts in 1902 and 1903. Redmond charted first (#3), followed Myers, Harry MacDonough (#2), the Haydn Quartet (#1), and Sousa’s Band (#1). The Haydn Quartet’s version showed the most endurance, ranking as Billboard’s song of the year in 1903. WHC
The song was connected to a 1927 film In the Good Old Summertime and revived for the 1948 Judy Garland movie of the same name. PS In 1952, Les Paul and Mary Ford charted with a #15 version of the song. It has also been tapped numerous times for “Broadway shows and Hollywood films whenever a ‘summer song,’ has been needed.” RCG
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First posted 3/28/2014; last updated 4/17/2021.