Monday, November 28, 2016

Bing Crosby hit #1 with “Pennies from Heaven” 80 years ago (11/28/1936)

First posted 11/25/2011; updated 4/12/2020.

Pennies from Heaven

Bing Crosby

Writer(s): Arthur Johnston/John Burke (see lyrics here)


First Charted: November 28, 1936


Peak: 110 US, 14 HP, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.74 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

This was the biggest pop hit from 1936. WHC Bing sang it in the film of the same name and garnered an Academy Award nomination for the song. It also appeared in 1954’s From Here to Eternity and 1960’s Pepe TY and cropped up again in the 1994 film Corrina, Corrina.

Presumably, the lyrics are intended to “evoke a sense of optimism in difficult times, assuring the listener that when it rains, ‘There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.’” BF However, in the introductory verse, listeners are warned that they may have to atone for their ancestors’ failure to appreciate the better things in life. “Storms may bring us fortune, but with that fortune we must buy what we used to get for free.” BF Burke, the lyricist, went on to become good friends with Bing and wrote other classics for him such as “Moonlight Becomes You”, “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams”, “What’s New?”, and “Swinging on a Star”.

In 1978, “Pennies” was revived as the theme for a BBC-TV series of the same name. The show “took the conventions of 1930s musicals and satirized them by placing the songs into a modern story.” JA That, in turn, inspired another Pennies from Heaven film in 1981 – this one starred Steve Martin and was directed by Herbert Ross. JA

Among others to have recorded the song are Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Dean Martin, Guy Mitchell, Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, Big Joe Turner, and Dinah Washington. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • Bing Crosby’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BF Bingfan03.blogspot.com
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 156.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 87.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 53.
  • WK Wikipedia.org

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