Sunday, April 24, 2016

4/24/1926: Irving Berlin’s “Always” charts for the first of 9 times

image from

George Olsen with Fran Frey, Bob Rice, & Edward Joyce “Always”

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

First charted: 4/24/1926

Peak: 13 US, 13 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US (sheet music sales)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: Writer Irving Berlin gave the rights to this song to his new wife, Ellis MacKay as a wedding gift, TY-31 which led to substantial royalies. WK Not that she needed the money – she was from a wealthy family, which meant her romance with Berlin was splashed all over tabloid headings. JA-9 Her father, Clarence MacKay, disinherited her and had nothing to do with her for years, but they eventually reconciled. TY-31

The legendary Groucho Marx claimed this song was intended for the Marx brothers’ movie The Cocoanuts WK However, the song was either cut or was never actually meant for the movie. WK Instead, “Always” got its introduction on vaudeville, thanks to Gladys Clark and Henry Bergman. It was an immediate hit, leading to multiple commercial recordings. George Olsen was the first to hit the charts with it, taking it to #1, as did Vincent Lopez. Henry Burr (#3), Nick Lucas (#4), and Lewis James (#12) also charted with it in 1926.

It resurfaced in 1942 as the theme music for the movie The Pride of the Yankees WK and again in 1944 when Deanna Durbin sang it in the film Christmas Holiday. JA-10 In 1945, the song showed up in Blithe Spirit, a movie based on a Noel Coward play. WK This gave the song a new chart life as Gordon Jenkins (#16), Paul Lavalle (#29), Sammy Kaye (#10), and Guy Lombardo (#10) all hit the charts with it in 1944-45.

The song has been covered by a diverse array of artists, including country versions by Patsy Cline and Kenny Rogers, MM-150 as well as recordings from Tony Bennett, Leonard Cohen, Phil Collins, Billy Corgan (from Smashing Pumpkins), Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, the Ink Spots, Paul McCartney, and the Supremes. WK

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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