A Thru F (1930 - 1941 Songs)
- "A" You're Adorable (1941)
This is a list song that goes thru the alphabet. "'A'" you're adorable, 'B' you're so beautiful. The song is cute the FIRST time you hear it and it gets steadily worse each time. It's too cutesy. The number took three people to write it, Buddy Kaye, Fred Wise and Sid Lippman. No one too notice of it until Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae made a duet version in 1949. And I love everything about Jo Stafford so you know if I am down on this song, and Jo sang it, it must be bad. Mike Douglas, Rosemary Clooney and Dean Martin made notable recording of this song.
- After All, You're All I'm After (1929)
This song is one of composer Arthur Schwartz's rare Tin Pan Alley tunes that is not from Broadway. Edward Heyman provided the words to this song. I must say I like songs that make use of clever phrases like this. Bing Crosby sang it in the 1934 film version of the play She Loves Me Not and it became a smash hit.
- All Of Me (1931)
This is a swinging number that offers the heart, soul and body to a loved one. Seymour Simons (lyric) and Gerald Marks (music) manage to produce an upbeat number even though the lyric is alarmist. The causal repetition of the lyric "Why not take all of me?" makes the restrained. Belle Barker introduced the song in vaudeville and but recordings by Paul Whiteman and Louie Armstrong made it a hit. In 1952 it was sung by Frank Sinatra in Meet Danny Wilson, and became a smash. It was the most popular of all the recordings made. Kate Smith, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dean Martin and Willie Nelson made excellent versions as well. Diana Ross sang it when she portrayed Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues (1972). TV fans will recall Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford singing it on the TV show Sanford And Son
- April In Paris (1932)
This pretty ballad combines the love for a person with the love of a city. Vernon Duke wrote the music, which is very different from the usual song formats of the time. EY Harburg wrote the lyric using a haiku-like format. It was a bit unusual for the time as there are few rhymes in a period when Tin Pan Alley prided itself on rhymes. The song was written for the Broadway revue Walk A Little Faster (1932), but Evelyn Hoey the star had a cold and the number was performed poorly. It wasn't till Freddy Martin and Henry King picked the number up for their nightclub acts when it became popular. It was among the most popular ballads of the 30s. In 1951 it became a hit again for Count Basie who did a jazz version of it. Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Artie Shaw also saw success with their recordings of it. The song was sung by Doris Day in the film April In Paris (1952)
- A-Tisket A-Tasket (1938)
This song, long associated with Ella Fitzgerald, who wrote the novelty song with Al Freemand and introduced it at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City. Fitzgerald was only 15 years old at the time, but it launched her career and in the process sold a million records. It is often featured on children's records, but Glenn Miller, Etta Jones and Tommy Dorsey made respectable recordings of it.
- Back In The Saddle Again (1938)
This was the theme song of cowboy singer Gene Autry. This is a classic example of the lazy prairie song that appealed to Americans during the depression when the thoughts turned of going west to start over. Great lyrics like "a friend is a friend," "the cattle feed on jimson weed," and "the only law is right," express the laid back feeling. Autry and fellow movie actor Ray Whitely wrote the song, though over the years many have question Autry's actual contribution to the song, noting after this song, he made an agreement with Whitley to pay him outright for his songs and add his name to them.
- Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar (1940)
I must say this song swings like almost no other. It's hard not to get up and move when you hear it. It is one of my all time favourites. This "boogie-woogie" number by Don Raye, Hughie Prince, and Eleanor Sheehy, requests eight counts to the measure so you can dance to it. Will Brady and his Orchestra introduced the song and made it a hit. The Andrew Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, and Glenn Miller had big hits with it as well.
- Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out The Barrel) (1939)
This polka favourite was extremely popular throughout the war years of the 40s. Many people think of it as a German or Polish song but it was based on a Czech ballad, Skoda Lasky, it is translated as "Lost Love." Lew Brown wrote the English lyric about a celebration in a beer garden and Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra popularized it. However it was the Andrew Sisters that made it a smash hit. The number was interpolated into the Broadway musical Yokel Boy (1939) and Lucille Ball sang it in the film Dance Girl Dance (1940). It has been cut as a record by just about every polka band that has ever existed.
- Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means That You're Grand) (1937)
This song is yet another fight over whether Yiddish is a dialect of German or a separate language. Officially it is Yiddish but it is an exact translation in German is "By Me Are You Beautiful." Yiddish speakers Sholom Secunda and Jacob Jacobs wrote the number for the Yiddish musical I Would If I Could (1937). Neither the play nor the song was a hit so Secunda sold the song for $30 (not bad in the depression but hardly worth the millions it'd soon bring in). The Andrew Sisters recorded it and it soared to the top of the charts, though their pronunciation of "wonderbar," irritated Germans as they pronounced it with a "W" sound. In German the "W" is pronounced as a "V" sound. The song remained on Your Hit Parade for nine weeks and earned three million dollars, of which Secunda saw none. When the copyright expired in 1960 Secunda was able to renew it and finally started seeing some profits from the song.
- Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (1931)
This rhythm song was way ahead of its time as it incorporated the swing and jazz that would become standard of popular music. Ted Koehler wrote the lyric about an indecisive number who is annoyed and enamored at once. Harold Arlen composed the music in which the verse swings and moves into the riff section. It was introduced in the Cotton Club review Rhythmania (1931). Later Louie Armstrong, Cab Callaway and Bill Robinson helped make it popular. However it is the disc by Benny Goodman (vocal by Helen Ward) is considered to be the definitive version and it remains a jazz classic.
- Blue Moon (1934)
This is a Rogers And Hart song that is most unusual in two ways. First it was one of the very few songs they wrote that was not expressly for a Broadway show. It is also unusual in that it was a beautiful ballad and in 1961 was turned into a rocking number by the Marcels that went all the way to number one.
This huge hit was the biggest selling song by Rogers and Hart selling more records and sheet music than any other song they penned. The music was intended for several Broadway shows, and Hollywood films but it never fit in and was dropped. A studio head heard the rejected tune and like it. He told Rogers he'd promote the song if he could come up with commercial lyrics. Hart wrote the lyric as a simple almost spoof of every June-moon-spoon-croon ballad ever written and didn't think much of his effort. But the public loved it. Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra took the number to the top of the charts and Benny Goodman also had a smash hit with it.
It was picked up in 1949 by Mel Torme who once again had a hit with it. But it wasn't till after the rock era started when the Marcels speeded up the music and added the famous beginning....
"Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang...."
It went to number one and was a million seller.
- Blueberry Hill (1940)
Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis, Larry Stock and Vincent Rose wrote this country-blues tune that had strong sexual innuendo. The song was interpolated in the film The Singing Hill (1941), where Gene Autry sang it. This was followed by a hit record by Glenn Miller. Kay Kyser also recorded it and between the two the song remained on Your Hit Parade for fourteen weeks. In 1957 Fats Domino revived the song and sold over a million records. It is best known to young TV fans as the song Richie Cunningham crooned on Happy Days.
- Body And Soul (1930)
This is a classic torch song, and one I hate. I don't merely dislike this I hate it. But most people don't, in fact it set the style for a lot of other songs in the 30s. It took three guys, Frank Eyton, Robert Sour and Edward Heyman to write the lyric while Johnny Green made the music. The number actually got censored because of the line "I'd gladly surrender myself to thee." This was changed in some recordings to "my castles have crumbled." This song is a favourite of jazz musicians, and Benny Goodman had a hit with it. Ruth Etting, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald made decent recordings of it too. Ida Lupino sang it in The Man I Love (1946).
- Boo Hoo (1937)
This is a silly torch song that became the surprise hit of the late 30s and was massive in popularity, staying on Your Hit Parade for eleven weeks. Carmen Lombardo, Edward Heyman and John Jacob Loeb, wrote this novelty hit about a distraught fiance who has been left at the alter by his betrothed and is crying "I'll tell my mama on you." Guy Lombardo popularized this number, but it was Fats Waller who had the biggest hit with it. The number can be heard in the films Dead End (1937) and Stars On Parade.
- Brazil (1939)
This is the most famous samba hit from Tin Pan Alley. This Latin standard has remained popular even today. Ary Baroso wrote the words and music which he called Aquarela do Brazil in Brazil. SK Russel penned the lyric and Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra recorded it on the soundtrack of the Disney animated movie Saludos Amigos (1943). Carmen Miranda sang it in The Gang's All Here (1943). Hit records were made by Xavier Cugat and Jimmy Dorsey. Les Paul had a unique version using multi-track guitars, and in 1975 the Ritchie Family made a disco version.
- Brother Can You Spare A Dime (1932)
This has been called the official theme of the Great Depression, because it struck an a cord with so many people's misery during the 30s. The beginning "Once I had a railroad made it run" has been heard on TV, plays, films and even the Simpsons (after Homer ruined his half-brother Herb), and in addition to summing up the key years of the depression strike true for anyone suffering on hard times.
While a great many of the songs of the 30s were made to cheer people up, this song is brutally honest in its forthright message. Younger people used to the pan handlers that amass all over downtown the people who routinely ask for change on highway exits and entrances, need to understand the times were much different. It was truly a shameful experience for anyone to ask for help, much less ask for money outright. These beggars were men who lost fortunes and women who's husbands abandoned their families because the shame of not being able to provide for them. It was a time when people put their kids up for adoption rather than ask for a handout. That was the shame of it. One must remember that when one listens to the words. Also there were no government programs to help like today.
Jay Gorney wrote the music based on a Russian-Jewish lullaby, and EY Harburg wrote the piercing lyric in which a veteran from World War I stands in line for a piece of bread. The lyric is one of a person more dazed and stunned rather than bitter as he fell from "making the world safe for democracy," to panhandling.
The song was written for Americana (1932) a Broadway review, but the producers felt it was too distressing, and the songwriters fought tooth and nail to keep the number in. Opening night Rex Weber sang it with the chorus, and audiences immediately seized the number.
However the Republicans, with the elections only one month away, were livid. Many attempts were made to ban the song on the radio, but with little success mainly because the depth of the depression were so deep even the business leaders and radio station owners once worth millions were reduced to nearly nothing. When Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee recorded it and ensured the song would stay on the radio not only for the election but also for the rest of the depression.
Today the song is used by the National Coalition of the Homeless. The song has been recorded by such people as Connie Francis, Eartha Kitt, Judy Collins, Tom Jones, Don McLean, and Peter Pual and Mary,
- Carry Me Back On The Lone Prairie (1934)
This cowboy song had become a standard but ironically for a cowboy song it became a hit when it was song by an opera star. Carson T Robison wrote the tearful ballad about a dying cowboy who wants to be carried back to the prairie so he can be buried. Robison adapted the song from a folk tune called The Ocean Burial that was first heard around 1850. This has been traced back to poem by EH Chaplin. The ballad was around for a long time and aroused little interest until opera tenor James Melton sang it in the film Stars Over Broadway his disc recording of it was a smash hit. Other recordings were made by Eddy Arnold, Gene Autry, Burl Ives and Johnny Cash. It has been heard in many western cowboy films as well.
- Cherokee (Indian Love Song) (1938)
This was bandleader Ray Nobles biggest hit, not only did he write both the words and music for the swing number, but it was one of his finest recordings. Unfortunately the words have not held up well during times of political correctness, but this has mattered little since most of the cover versions have been instrumentals. The song can be heard in the movies Jam Session (1944) and The Gene Krupa Story (1959).
- The Cowboy Serenade (Yipee-Ky-Ay) (1941)
I must say I love ABSOLUTELY love this song. So many times I have tried to write words that are as good as these and failed. Richard Hall wrote this somber ballad about a dying cowboy who's smoking his last cigarette and asks someone to sing his favourite prairie song, the term "Yipee-Ky-Ay" is repeated throughout the song. Tony Martin introduced it on the radio in 1941, and Kay Kaiser and Gene Autry had hit records of it. Autry also sang it in the film The Cowboy Serenade (1942) Glen Miller also had a hit with it. The words are sometime changed to make it a little less morose, with the dying substituted for another angst. But when you hear the somber music and the phrase, "The sun's gonna set, and I'm smoking my last cigarette," it is completely powerful. You can just imagine a person turning toward death and facing it with dignity.
- Dancing On The Ceiling (1930)
Long before Lionel Richie had a different song with the same title this song was a smash. Rogers and Hart wrote this about a woman who fantasizes her lover is dancing above her when she is sleeping. The number was written for the Broadway musical Simple Simon (1930), but it was cut. Then it was in England where the song first caught on. It was interpolated into the London musical Evergreen (1930) where British Bandleader Jack Hilton had a hit with it. It took awhile to make it back over the Atlantic to the States but once it did Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis and the Ray Conniff singers had hits with it.
- Deep In The Heart Of Texas (1941)
This is a clapping participating song that remained popular throughout the 1940s. June Hershey penned the lyric that is a tribute to the "Lone Star State." Don Swander wrote the music. A 1942 recording by Alvino Rey went to the top of the charts a little later a disc by Horace Heidt and his Orchestra sold a million records and stayed on the Hit Parade for twelve weeks. Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Gene Autry and Ray Charles have also covered the song.
- Deep Purple (1934)
Best remembered today for a version by Nino Tempo and April Stevens, which in 1963 when to number one, this song was a hit thirty years before then. It is a torchy number about the sky turning purple as the stars come out, and reminding one of a lost love that appears deep purple in dreams. Peter DeRose wrote the music in 1934 and Paul Whiteman recorded it as a modest hit instrumental. It wasn't till 1939 when Mitchell Paris added a lyric and it became a hit for singer Larry Clinton. In the 40s Bing Crosby brought it back to life, and Billy Ward and his Dominoes had a hit with it in 1957. As stated above the biggest version came in 1963, but it wasn't over just yet. In 1976 it was a modest hit for Donny Osmond and his sister Marie.
- The Dipsy Doodle (1937)
This nonsense song about a nonsense dance was written by and a hit for Larry Clinton. It gave rise to the phrase "Dipsy Doodle will get you if you don't watch out." It has been recorded by Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Kaye. It can be heard in many films as late as 1999's Angela's Ashes.
- Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree (1939)
This was one of the first and most identified songs with World War II. Where ever there were soldiers there was some girl singing this song to her boyfriend shipping out. Sam H Stept (music) and Charles Tobias (lyric) composed this song pleading with a sweetheart not to go back to the place they fell in love with anyone else. "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me" and "Don't go walking down lover's lane with anyone else but me," sum up the feeling explicitly. While the words read like a sentimental ballad the swinging music and the "no, no, no" that is interjected into the lyric make it very modern.
The song was introduced in the Broadway play Yokel Boy (1939) and it became a massive and I mean massive hit for the Andrew Sisters when they sang it in the film Private Buckaroo (1942). Their recording almost instantly shot to the top of the charts, and so did the recording by Glenn Miller. Jo Stafford and Kay Kyser also did very well with it. It has been heard in over twenty Hollywood films as late as 1999's The Story Of Us which featured the Andrew Sisters version.
- Dream A Little Dream Of Me (1931)
This simple ballad is probably best known today for the cover version by Cass Elliot (Credited as Mama Cass with the Mama's & The Papas). Wilbur Schwandt and Fabian Andre wrote the music and Gus Kahn wrote the lyric. Kate Smith popularized the song on her radio show in 1931. Frankie Lane had a hit with it in 1951. The biggest hit was in 1968 for Cass Elliot though it only reached number 36 on the pop charts, it hit number six on the Adult Contemporary Chart and when to number eight on the pop chart in England for Elliot. Louie Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Marin and Roger Williams have made respectable covers of this song as well.
- Easter Parade (1933)
This is probably Irving Berlin's most loved holiday song, but it took awhile to catch on at first. Berlin wrote the tune as Smile And Show Your Dimple in 1918, but it never did much. He had the job of preparing the score for the Broadway show As Thousands Cheer when he recalled this tune and wrote a new lyric for it. The audiences quickly accepted it and it became a staple at Easter time. Sheet music sales soared and some records were made but the recordings never matched the sales of the sheet music which easily sold over a million copies.
Then in 1942 Harry James's version was a smash hit. In 1947 Guy Lombardo had even a bigger hit with it. Both songs sold over a million records. And, of course, in 1948 Judy Garland sang it in the film Easter Parade and its status as a staple Easter song was affirmed forever.
- The Flat Foot Floogie (With The Floy Floy) (1938)
This infectious nonsense song about a "new way to ruin the rugs," was written by the trio of Slam Stewart, Slim Gaillard, and Bud Green. While it never was a big hit, the title caught on as a catchphrase and was used for over a decade by radio comedians. Noteworthy records of it were made by Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman.
- For You (1931)
This song absolutely swings; I love it. Written by Al Dubin (lyric) and Joe Burke (music). It lists all sorts of impossible things one will do for love. "I will carry stars out of the blue for you, for you" and "Over the highway and onto the street, carpets of clover I'd lay at your feet." When she was the lead singer of Tommy Dorsey's Band Jo Stafford had a hit with it and it became her first big song in 1931. Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney had hits with it in the 50s and Rick Nelson revived it in the 60s.