Friday, July 15, 2005

100 years ago: “Give My Regards to Broadway” went to #1

Give My Regards to Broadway

Billy Murray

Writer(s): George M. Cohan (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 17, 1905

Peak: 15 US, 3 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.11 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

George M. Cohan was an untrained musician who “professed to write only simple songs with simple harmonies and limited ranges” PS “and a melody line that rarely exceeded four beats.” LW “His brilliance was in making them attractive and memorable.” LW He became one of the most multi-talented men in musical theater. In nearly all his productions, he was “composer, lyricist, librettist, playwright, actor, director, and producer.” TY2

After two flops on Broadway, Cohan found success with Little Johnny Jones, which was inspired by real-life jockey Tod Sloan. Johnny Jones travels to Britain to ride his horse in the English Debry and is accused of throwing the race. It turns out he was framed by an American gambler and his name is cleared. Johnny sings “Give My Regards to Broadway” in a mournful tone as he watches his family leaving by boat but he has to stay behind to clear his name. Once his name has been cleared, Johnny performs it in “an exuberant song-and-dance style.” TY2 It “could only have been sung by an opinionated, cocky young man with a very high opinion of his own worth.” LW Cohan was a natural.

With “music and melody [that] seem to fit any era and transcend fads and styles” PS “Regards” is “arguably…the most memorable and greatest hit from the 1900 – 1910 decade.” PS It has proved to be “one of those enduring favorites that never gets old or outdated.” PS It “has become one of the unofficial anthems of the American theatrical industry.” TY2 Billy Murray and S.H. Dudley both charted with the song in 1905, taking it to #1 and 4 respectively.

Eddie Buzzell sang the song in its first screen appearance for the 1929 film version of Little Johnny Jones. It was also used in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1941), Give My Regards to Broadway (1948), Jolson Sings Again (1948) and With a Song in My Heart (1952). The 1968 play George M! featured Joel Grey singing it in his portrayal of Cohan.


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First posted 7/15/2014; last updated 12/13/2022.

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