Saturday, April 9, 2016

4/9/1927: “Blue Skies” charts for the first of 9 times

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Ben Selvin “Blue Skies”

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

First charted: 4/9/1927

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

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

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

Review: Belle Baker first sang “Blue Skies” in the 1926 musical Betsy. JA-25 While the rest of the musical was scored by Rodgers and Hart, this song by Irving Berlin was added – depending on the account, at the request of either Baker JA-25 or the producer, Florenz Ziegfeld. TY-38 The number was so successful, it received 24 encores. RCG

The song was well received on the charts as well, with six versions charting in 1927 alone. Ben Selvin had the #1 hit, but Vaughn Deleath (#15), Vincent Lopez (#9), Johnny Marvin & Ed Smalle (#9), George Olsen (#2), Harry Richman (#13) also found success with the song. It topped sheet music sales for a year. MM-152 Frances Langford regularly sang it for World War II troops as a way to celebrate the good feelings soldiers had upon returning home. RCG Count Basie (#8, 1946), Benny Goodman (#9, 1946), and Johnny Long (#22, 1941) would find successs with the song in later years. Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Glenn Miller, Willie Nelson, and Frank Sinatra have also recorded it. MM-152

It also became a staple in movies, notably sung by Al Jolson in the first sound film, 1927’s The Jazz Singer, TY-38 by Ethel Merman and Alice Faye in the 1938 film Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and Bing Crosby in 1946’s Blue Skies as well as 1954’s White Christmas. JA-25

Berlin captured the nature of love with the suggestion that it “can turn gray skies to blue.” TY-38 He also made clever use of the word blue by beginning each of the three main sections with references to blue – blue skies, bluebirds, and blue days. TY-38 The song’s structure “shifts from a bluesy chorus to an upbeat verse making it a mainstay of jazz artists.” RCG

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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