Wednesday, May 1, 2019

100 Years Ago: “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm” hit #1

How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree

Nora Bayes

Writer(s): Walter Donaldson (music), Sam Lewis (words), Joy Young (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 15, 1919

Peak: 2 US, 14 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.21 video, 0.02 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Composer Walter Donaldson previously wrote “The Aba Daba Honeymoon” (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, #1, 1914) and would work again with lyricists Sam Lewis and Joe Young on “My Mammy” (Paul Whiteman, #1, 1921). Donaldson was a Songwriting Hall of Famer who also wrote “Carolina in the Morning” (Van & Schenck, #1, 1923), “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (Gene Austin, #1, 1925), “My Blue Heaven” (Gene Austin, #1, 1927), and “Makin’ Whoopee” (Eddie Cantor, #2, 1929).

“How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm” was written with a focus on soldiers from rural America and the concer that they “would not want to return to farm life after experiencing the European city life and culture of Paris during the Great War. “ SM It was a hit in vaudeville, being sung by Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, and Nora Bayes. DJ The song hit the charts three times in 1919 with versions by Nora Bayes (#2), Arthur Fields (#7), and Byron G. Harlan (#9). PM The latter two included a verse with a wife assuring her farmer husband that nothing much will have changed. SM

Bayes’ version did not include that verse, but it was the biggest hit of the three. She was born Rachel Eleanora “Dora” Goldberg in Chicago, Illinois in 1880 and became a famous singer in vaudeville and then Broadway before marrying singer/songwriter Jack Norworth in 1908. SM They wrote “Shine on, Harvest Moon” which was a #1 hit in 1909 for Harry MacDonough with Miss Walton and Billy Murray with Ada Jones.

It was revived in 1942 when Judy Garland sang it in the film For Me and My Gal. Cantor sang it in his own 1953 biopic The Eddie Cantor Story. Pee Wee Hunt and Joe “Fingers” Carr recorded the song in 1956. DJ


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First posted 3/20/2023.

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