Friday, October 14, 2005

100 years ago: “In My Merry Oldsmobile” hit #1

In My Merry Oldsmobile

Billy Murray

Writer(s): Vincent Bryan, Gus Edwards (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 14, 1905

Peak: 17 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1905, two Oldsmobiles embarked on the first trans-continental automobile race from New York City to Portland, following the route of the Oregon Trail. TY2 This was at a time when the automobile was still a relatively new and unpopular gadget. RA In addition, in parts of the West the drivers faced “bad weather, sickness, wild animals, thirst, accidents and unforeseen breakdowns. TY2 The month-and-a-half journey through mud and rough terrain in the pre-roads era generated daily newspaper coverage on a national level. RA

“In My Merry Oldsmobile” was inspired by the event, becoming the “first successful Tin Pan Alley song written about an automobile” RCG and “the defining song for automobile related transportation theme music.” PS Vincent Bryan, who “was considered by Tin Pan Alley as one of the best professional lyricists of his time,” RA “penned the lyrics in the form of a marriage proposal. RCG At times, they sounded like a commercial jingle for Oldsmobile. TY2

The German-born Gus Edwards “composed the rock-like waltz music” RCG Edwards couldn’t read or write music and taught himself to play piano. He wrote his first song in 1898, formed his own music publishing company by 1905, and is known as “one of our greatest vaudevillians.” RA

Edwards popularized the song in his vaudeville act. RCG Two versions of the song charted in 1905 – first by Billy Murray (#1) and then Arthur Collins and Byron G. Harlan (#7). PM In 1927, Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra revived the song. JA Bing Crosby, Les Brown, and Jo Stafford also made well-known recordings of it RCG and it was used in the 1944 movie The Merry Monihans as well the 1948 move musical One Sunday Afternoon. The song served for years as “an unpaid-for commercial for Oldsmobile” RA and was eventually adopted as the manufacturer’s theme song. RA Despite requests from Edwards, he could never convince the company to give him one of their automobiles. DJ


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First posted 10/14/2016; last updated 12/14/2022.

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