Friday, October 14, 2016

10/14/1905: “In My Merry Oldsmobile” hits #1

image from

Billy Murray “In My Merry Oldsmobile”

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

First charted: 10/14/1905

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

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

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

Review: In 1905, two Oldsmobiles embarked on a cross-country race to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon SS-585 at a time when the automobile was still a relatively new and unpopular gadget. TR-316 The month-and-a-half journey through mud and rough terrain in the pre-roads era generated daily newspaper coverage on a national level. TR-316

“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,” TR-316 “penned the lyrics in the form of a marriage proposal. RCG

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.” TR-316

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 Harlan (#7). PM-528 In 1927, Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra revived the song. JA-101 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. The song served for years as “an unpaid-for commercial for Oldsmobile” TR-316 and was eventually adopted as the manufacturer’s theme song. TR-316 Despite requests from Edwards, he could never convince the company to give him one of their automobiles. JA-101

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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