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): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

George M. Cohan “virtually invented musical comedy” LW by pioneering the idea that a show could maintain “a proper narrative structure interspersed with songs.” LW 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 was “the dominant force on Broadway during its heyday,” LW predating future musical theatre greats like Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Richard Rodgers. “His best work, like Irving Berlin’s, synthesized the idea of American-ness, useful in a country of so many young immigrants.” LW

In 1904, he wrote, composed, produced, acted, and danced in his first Broadway musical, Little Johnny Jones, inspired by real-life jockey Tod Sloan. In addition to “Yankee Doodle Boy”, the show featured “Give My Regards to Broadway”. The song “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 PS It has proved to be “one of those enduring favorites that never gets old or outdated.”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 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.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for George M. Cohan
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Billy Murray
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 16.
  • PS

First posted 7/15/2014; last updated 4/22/2021.

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