Saturday, April 5, 1980

50 years ago: Ted Lewis charts with “On the Sunny Side of the Street”

On the Sunny Side of the Street

Ted Lewis

Writer(s): Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 5, 1930

Peak: 2 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

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

Awards (Ted Lewis):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Louis Armstrong):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This “cabaret and jazz standard” JA and “metaphor for optimism” TY was credited to composer Jimmy McHugh and lyricist Dorothy Fields although there have been claims that Fats Waller actually composed the song, but sold the rights. WK

In his book American Popular Song, author Alec Wilder calls the song “one of the jazz musicians’ favorites…Singers, as well, love it as much for its extremely fine lyric.” SB In The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards, Max Morath expresses a similar sentiment, saying the song “works both sides of the street, vocal and instrumental, with equal charm. Dorothy Field’s sassy lyrics (‘…leave your worries on your doorstep…’) invite singers to go for it.” MM

“On the Sunny Side of the Street” was introduced in 1930’s Lew Leslie’s International Revue, SB sung by Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. WK The Broadway show flopped, closing after only 95 performances, but the song endured. SB Richman took it to #13. Ted Lewis also charted with it (#2) the same month the Broadway show debuted. SB

The song resurfaced on the charts in 1945 with versions by Tommy Dorsey with the Sentimentalists on vocals (#16) and Jo Stafford with the Pied Pipers (#17). Frankie Laine sang it in 1949’s Make Believe Ballroom, and was used in at least seven film thrugh the late ‘50s. TY Among the numerous artists to record the song are Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, the Coasters, Nat “King” Cole, Doris Day, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Gene Kelly, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, and Fats Waller.


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Ted Lewis
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Dorothy Fields
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Jimmy McHugh
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 152.
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 178.
  • SB
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 56.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 4/5/2016; last updated 12/27/2021.

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