Friday, May 5, 2017

100 years ago: “Pack Up Your Troubles” hit #1

Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile

Knickerbocker Quartet

Writer(s): George Powell (aka Charles Asaf) (w), Felix Powell (m) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 14, 1917

Peak: 15 US, 2 GA, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This World War I marching song was published in 1915 in London. Welsh songwriter George Henry Powell wrote the words under the pseudonym of George Asaf and his brother Felix Powell composed the music. It was one of many music hall numbers aimed at boosting British morale and recruiting troops during the war. WK However, the song became even more popular in the United States. JA

The song was first performed live in 1915 by the Harlequinders. SH Stanley Kirby first recorded the song on December 22, 1915 and released it in January 1916. SH The song was featured in the American operetta Her Soldier Boy, which opened in December 1916. WK The chorus, with its message to “smile and not worry” has become the second favorite of World War I veterans behind “Madameoisse from Armentiers” (aka “Inky Pinky Parley Vous”). LW

It was used in multiple movies, including Laurel & Hardy’s Pack Up Your Troubles (1932), High Pressure (1932), Varsity Show (1937), The Shopworn Angel (1938), For Me and My Gal (1942) starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, Darling Lili (1970), All That Jazz (1979), and Private Peaceful (2010). The character of Schroeder plays the song in the 1966 animated Peanuts television special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. WK

In 1917 and 1918, the Knickerbocker Quartet, the Victor Military Band, Reinald Werrenrath, Helen Clark, and Oscar Seagle & the Columbia Stellar Quartet all charted with top-10 versions of the song. PM The most successful, however, was the chart-topping rendition by the Knickerbocker Quartet. PM The vocal group led by Lewis James PM featured baritone singers James F. Harrison and Frederick J. Wheeler. LC They recorded their version in New York City on December 13, 1916. LC


First posted 10/23/2022; last updated 11/24/2022.

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