Friday, September 11, 2009

100 years ago: Henry Burr took “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” to #1

I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now

Henry Burr

Writer(s): Joseph E. Howard and Harold Orlob (music), Frank R. Adams and Will M. Hough (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 4, 1909

Peak: 18 US, 12 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This “evergreen standard” JA is “one of the most popular songs in the history of Tin Pan Alley… Considered cliche today, the number’s flowing music, and heartbreaking lyric made it one of the first conversational and down-to-earth torch songs.” RCG It was, however, also controversial because it described a promiscuous relationship. SM The song was selected by ASCAP as one of only sixteen in its All-Time Hit Parade. TY2

Joe Howard claimed he heard a college student in Chicago utter the title phrase and then turned to Frank Adams to write words. RCG The song appeared in the Broadway musical The Prince of Tonight, performed by Henry Woodruff, SMbut it really took off when Howard sang it in the show Miss Nobody from Starland (1910). There was, however, also a claim that it originated from a different musical, The Goddess of Liberty, performed by Edward Abeles as Lord Jack Wyngate. SM

Henry Burr’s chart-topping version was followed by two top ten versions by Billy Murray, #4) and (Manuel Romain, #6) the next year. In 1947, the song was revived in a 1947 biopic of the same name about Howard, resulting in three more charted versions – Perry Como with Ted Weems (#2), Ray Noble (#11), and Dinning Sisters (#12). The song sold three million in sheet music sales.

The renewed interest in the song also brought about a court case in which musical arranger Harold Orlob sued Howard. JA The case established that Howard had commissioned Orlob to compose the song and then published it as his own. However, Howard had already received royalties for 38 years and although Orlob was given the lead songwriting credit, he didn’t receive any additional money since he’d already been compensated for his work. TY1


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First posted 9/11/2016; last updated 12/15/2022.

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