Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11/1909: Henry Burr takes “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” to #1

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Henry Burr “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now”

Writer(s): Joe Howard/ Harold Orlob/ Frank Adams/ Will Hough (see lyrics here)

First charted: 9/4/1909

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

Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music sales)

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

Review: This “evergreen standard” JA-91 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

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, but really took off when Howard sang it in the show Miss Nobody from Starland (1910), eventually selling three million in sheet music sales. JA-91

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, JA-91 resulting in three more charted versions – Perry Como with Ted Weems (#2), Ray Noble (#11), and Dinning Sisters (#12).

The renewed interest in the song also brought about a court case in which musical arranger Harold Orlob sued Howard. JA-91 The case established that Howard had paid Orlob for his work and that in 1909 it was legitimate for Howard to publish the song as his own. Orlob was awarded songwriting credit, RCG but no additional money since he’d already been compensated for his work. TY-132

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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