G Thru L (1930 - 1941 Songs)
- Georgia On My Mind (1930)
The state song of Georgia as well as the theme for TV's Designing Women it is the best known song by Hoagy Carmichael. Stuart Gorrell wrote the lyric to Carmchiael's tune. Despite being the state song of Georgia this is about a woman, at least as originally written. But it works just as well when conjuring up memories of the state. The song was first made popular by Mildred Bailey in 1931. Soon Louie Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday and even Carmichael himself recorded it with success.
In addition Lou Rawls, Fats Waller, Brenda Lee, Frankie Laine and James Brown recorded it as well. In 1960 Ray Charles went to number one with it, and it is that version that is most recognized today. TV fans recognize this song as the opening theme from Designing Women. However I was shocked while listening to the various versions to find the one by Dinah Shore was by far the best. It simply blew me away how she sang the song so simple and with such detachment.
- Get Happy (1930)
"Forget your troubles c'mon get happy, sing hallelujah, come on say hey, Forget your troubles c'mon get happy, get ready for the judgment day."
Now confess, as you were reading that you were singing along weren't you? This was Harold Arlen's first published song, his first hit song and one of the finest rhythm songs of the 30s. Arlen was working for the Broadway Musical Great Day (1929) as a pianist that played only for rehearsals. This left him plenty of time to be bored. One day while he was improvising to keep his mind occupied lyricist Ted Koehler heard him, like his improve and wrote words to it and that improv session produced the song Get Happy.
Ruth Etting first popularized this number and sheet music soared. With the Great Depression just beginning to take grip the nation quickly embraced, this happy number to ease their troubled minds.
The song was revived by Judy Garland in 1950 when she sang it in the film Summer Stock. Other memorable discs have been cut by Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Maureen McGovern.
- God Bless America (1938)
This is Irving Berlin's best known song (perhaps Alexander's Ragtime Band is better known). Almost hymn-like, Berlin wrote the tune for Yip Yip Yaphank (1918), but he removed it as he thought it too "sugary" for a wartime show. It remained in Berlin's briefcase collecting dust for twenty years until Kate Smith asked Berlin if he had a patriotic number she could sing on her immensely popular radio show on Armistice Day (now called Veteran's Day).
Berlin a Jew from Russia (possibly Belarus), deeply felt the pangs of war growing in Europe. He changed a few of the lyrics so it would better reflect the pride he felt for America. A now seldom sung verse reflects the concern about the war clouds over Europe and asks God to watch over and guide the United States forever.
On November 11, 1938 Kate Smith sang the song that changed her career. No matter who else sung this song it will be forever associated with her. As popular as it was immediately after Smith sang it, it grew to iconic status during the Second World War. Both political parties in 1940 used the song as their campaign song at their respective conventions. It was so popular by the war's end there was a very realistic movement to have the song replace The Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem.
The song has been played in countless Hollywood films. It enjoyed renewed popularity after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States particularly with a version by Celine Dion.
In 1939 Berlin had all the royalties of the song go to the Boy And Girls Scouts of America.
- Goodnight Irene (1936)
This morose, almost ridiculously sad song, has managed to charm audiences for years. The waltz music is appealing and nicely contrasts with the sad words. John Lomax and Huddie Ledbetter (also known as Leadbelly) wrote the number while Leadbelly was serving time in the notorious Louisiana State Prison. The songs tells how much despair a suitor feels since he left his beloved Irene and feels like he wants to throw himself in the river.
The song was recorded by Leadbelly and many others including Jo Stafford who had a minor hit with it. Frank Sinatra, Boxcar Willie And Nat King Cole also recorded this tune. Despite such big names the song didn't become a big hit until 1950 when it was recorded by the Weavers with Gorden Jenkin's Orchestra. This song sold over one million copies. Unfortunately Leadbelly died before he ever saw his song become a big hit in 1950.
I really like this song, it's funny that you can listen to it and the lyrics are quite sad but you don't get that feeling unless you expressly listen to it. The contrast in music and words is very solid. Another thing oddly about this song is when female singers sing this song; they never change the words. At least not in any version I have heard, so it becomes a lesbian lament, so to speak.
- Goodnight Sweetheart (1931)
This fox trot assured its popularity by becoming the song that is played as a last number at a dance. Ray Noble, Jimmy Campbell, and Reg Connelly, collaborated on this song, where it was introduced in Noble's, home country of England. There Henry Hall's BBC Orchestra played it on the radio. Rudy Vallee introduced it to American audiences. Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians had a chart hit with it, and it can be heard in countless movies that feature dance sequences.
- Harbor Lights (1940)
The tearful English torch song in which two separated lovers view the lights in the harbor which only serve to remind them of the distance between them. Jimmy Kennedy wrote the lyric and Will Grosz composed the music. Roy Fox and his Orchestra popularized the number in England and Rudy Vallee brought it to America and made it a hit here. But it wasn't till 1959 when Sammy Kaye had a really big hit with it, staying on the Hit Parade for twenty-nine weeks. The Platters made it a hit again in 1960.
- Have You Ever Been Lonely (1933)
This Big Band ballad was later taken up and popularized by country-western singers. Peter DeRose composed the music, and George Brown wrote the lyric in which an admirer asks forgiveness of a sweetheart and wonders if she has ever felt the way he does now. Paul Whiteman and the song a hit and other recordings by Ted Lewis and Ray Noble assured its popularity on the Big Band circuit. But it was in the 60s when Jerry Vale revived it that it became a staple among country artists. Chet Atkins, Della Reese, Patsy Cline, Slim Whitman, and Jim Reeves are among the best covers of the song.
- Hawaiian War Chant (1936)
Long before Hawaii was a state it was the most exotic locale of America and over one hundred versions of this song were made, most of them instrumentals. This is another one of them popular numbers that I never got. It doesn't grab me at all, but it grabbed millions of others. Johnny Noble and Prince Leleiohaku of Hawaii composed the drum music and Ralph Freed wrote the English lyric. Tommy Dorsey popularized the number in 1939 and it was revived in 1946 with a parody version by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Many others from Jo Stafford, Guy Lombardo to Ella Fitzgerald have given a unique interpretation to this song.
- Heart And Soul (1938)
No, not Huey Lewis but Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Frank Loesser (lyric) wrote this song, that along with Chopsticks is standard for beginning piano players. Just by chance the chord progression makes a perfect finger exercise for the beginning piano student. This number is pure Tin Pan Alley but was interpolated into the movie short A Star Is Born (1938), where it was played by Larry Clinton. His record hit the top of the charts. The song was frequently brought back to life; in 1952, by The Four Aces, in 1956 by Johnny Maddox, by Jan and Dean in 1961 and the Cleftones in 1962.
The Cleftones version can be heard in the film American Graffiti (1973).
- Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood Mama) (1939)
Beginning with the lines "Choo choo to Broadway foo Cincinnati, don't get icky with the one two three, life is just so fine on the solid side of the line, rip"
This novelty song is one of the best. It makes just enough sense to be able to follow the words but the over all meaning leaves you scratching your head wondering "what?"
The record lists Kent Brandow and Robinson Ware Spottswood but those where pseudonyms for five songwriters, Leonard Kent, Jerry Brandow, Edward Robinson, Willie Spottswood and Leonard Ware. The Jazzy number was a huge hit for the Andrew Sisters. The song can also be heard in the movie Follow The Boys (1944). It remains my personal favourite song by the Andrew Sisters.
- How Deep Is The Ocean? (1932)
This Irving Berlin standard was probably his most played song during the 30s. The ballad is rather simple and controlled. This in itself helped its popularity. It stays within one key and is simple to sing by people with very limited range. Berlin wrote the lyric during the 20s but put it away thinking it was too cliche. He published it in 1932 not thinking much of it when it was brought to the attention of Bing Crosby. He had a hit record with it. Early disc by Ethel Merman, Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo and Rudy Vallee kept the song alive throughout the 30s. In 1945 Benny Goodman (vocal by Peggy Lee) had a big hit with it. Artie Shaw, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Michael Feinstein have also made notable recordings of it.
- A Hundred Years From Today (1933)
This uptempo song negates the fatalistic sentiment and encourages one to enjoy life today, to live life today, and to enjoy life, because a hundred years from now, it won't matter what your troubles or worries are today. Ned Washington and Joe Young wrote the lyric and Victor Young wrote the music. It was introduced in the Broadway revue Lew Leslie's Blackbirds (1933), but it was Ethel Waters who made it famous with her recording (made with the Benny Goodman Orchestra). Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn and Tennessee Ernie Ford made notable recording of the song.
- I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire (1941)
This soulful song of love hopes to "start a fire in your heart" rather than impress the whole world. Eddie Seiler, Sol Marcus, Bennie Benjamin, and Ed Durham collaborated on the number, but it took them three years to get it published. Harlon Leonard and his Kansas City Rockets were first to make the song popular but it was the Ink Spots that made it their hit record, keeping it on Your Hit Parade for fifteen weeks. It has been recorded by dozens of other artists like the Mills Brothers, Patti Page, and Eddy Arnold. The Ink Spots recording can be heard in the 1995 film How To Make An American Quilt.
- I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes) (1939)
This is by far my favourite Hoagy Carmichael song. Ok with the exception of the song he wrote for Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. With a lyric by Jane Brown Thompson, Carmichael's music crawls along slowly and makes one feel each word to the heart.
This song has an interesting history. When Carmichael was in college fellow student gave him a poem to set to music. He composed a tune but put them away and forgot about them. Several years later he ran across them and wanted to publish it, but one problem, he couldn't remember who wrote the words. So he had noted newspaper columnist Walter Winchell read the lyric on his radio program and asked the author to come forward. Forty-eight people came forward and not one of them was the real author. But someone recognized the words as a poem printed in Life magazine years before. Though the magazine, Carmichael was able to locate Thompson.
Tommy Dorsey introduced the song on his radio show but sadly the lyricist died the day before never hearing her words sung to the music Carmichael wrote.
The song was played by such bands as Tommy Dorsey, Red Norvo, and Larry Clinton, but it was Jane Russell who sang it in the film The Las Vegas Story (1952) that revived the song. Karen Chandler made it popular again in 1967. Through the years, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Dick Haymes, Petula Clark and Linda Ronstadt recorded it. But it is Carly Simon's version that I love the most.
In a sad endnote, Richard Carpenter says he regrets never having had his sister Karen record the song. He said it would've been perfect for her and they always meant to record the song but as he said, "I always thought we'd have time later, who knew?"
- I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (1941)
This jazz standard has become a vocal standard too, which is ironic in the fact that it is a very difficult and demanding piece to sing correctly. Paul Francis Webster wrote the nimble lyric about having a wild weekend then sobering up on Monday, realizing that true love has gone and all one has left is "crying my heart out." Duke Ellington and Edward Kennedy collaborated writing on the tricky music. The song was introduced in the California revue Jump For Joy but it was Ivie Anderson's record with Duke Ellington's Orchestra that brought the song into the spotlight. Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald also had hits with it.
- I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues (1932)
This jazzy torch song uses the blues in a unique way. Harold Arlen wrote the music wrote the music, which allows for plenty of improvising, while Ted Koehler wrote the lyric about a woman who deceived her beau, and feels justified about it. The song was interpolated in the Broadway revue Earl Carroll's Vanities Of 1932, where it was sung by Lillian Shade. Thought the song caught on it didn't become really popular until Louis Armstrong recorded it. Benny Goodman and Cab Calloway also followed up with hits of their own. Billie Holiday, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Dorothy Lamour made commendable disc of it as well.
- I'll Guess I'll Have to Dream The Rest (1941)
This ballad is quite soft spoken and true to the heart, about a rejected lover who accepts this but plans to continue dreaming about their discarded love alone. Mickey Stoner and Martin Black wrote the words while Harold Green wrote the music. The music, which is sort of a fox trot, was popularized by both Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.
- If I Didn't Care (1939)
The bluesy type of ballad, by Jack Lawrence first saw success when the Ink Spots sang it and made it a best seller. They also reprised it in the 1941 film The Great American Broadcast (1941). The lyric argues that the beau wouldn't act the way he does unless he lover her so. Early record made by Count Basie, Kate Smith and Gray Gordon were also hits. Connie Francis had a hit with it in 1958 (her version is my favourite) and again it was a hit in 1961 by The Platters. You can also hear Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford signing this song on the TV show Sanford And Son, quite often.
- I'll Be Seeing You (1938)
This song is another one of my personal favourites. In fact I wish I could have thought to write this. This is probably the best remembered of all the World War II ballads. Sammy Fain composed the music, which can best be described as haunting, that remains somber until the surging, climbing, climax. Irving Kahal wrote the word that recalls a love affair in Paris, the suitor who sees her in all the old familiar places. I absolutely love the ending line "I'll be looking at the moon but I'll be seeing you." The double meaning of the phrase "I'll be seeing you," as in goodbye then at the end he sees her in his mind's eye is pure genius. The song was introduced in the Broadway show Right This Way (1938).
- I'm Getting Sentimental Over You (1932)
This song is most remembered as being the theme song for Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra. Ned Washington (lyric) and George Bassman (music) admits to being cynical about love but is willing to admit that the viewpoint has changed now that he has met her. Although Dorsey's song was the big seller the Ink Spots also had a hit with it. Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frances Langford, and Gogi Grant made recordings of this song. It is also heard in A Star Is Born (1948) as well as King Of The Hill (1993)
- In A Shanty In Old Shanty Town (1932)
This tune romanticized the shantytowns that sprang up all over America during the Great Depression, and despite the "depressing" lyrics or maybe because of them it became a hit. John Young, John Siras and Little Jack Little wrote the tune about finding love in such humble places such as a "tumbled down shack by and old railroad track." Little talk-sang the tune on radio and records and slowly the song caught on. When Ted Lewis recorded it it became a big hit. It was revived again in 1946 by Johnny Long and his Orchestra. Other artists that have made recording of it include, Ink Spots, Fats Domino, Dizzie Gillespie and Jerry Lee Lewis. Teddy Joyce sang it in the Hollywood film Crooner (1932).
- It Don't Mean A Thing (If You Ain't Got That Swing) (1932)
This song is better known today as a catchphrase than a tune, but it was one of the first, if not the first popular song to use the term "swing" in its title. Swing being the new type of music developed in the 30s. Duke Ellington wrote the song as an instrumental and it achieved some popularity, then Irving Mills added his lyric to it, even punctuating it with "doo wahs" to imitate the instruments playing. In addition to Ellington, the song has been recorded by "Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney and the Mills Brothers.
- It's Only A Paper Moon (1932)
This was the first Harold Arlen tune to appear in a movie. This radiant number is about the make-believe becoming real all because of love. EY Harburg and Billy Rose wrote the lyric about a "Barnum and Bailey world," arguing that an artificial moon and a painted sunset are just as good as the real thing, well they would be "If you believed in me," kind of catchy right?
Originally it was called If You Believed Me and was written for the Broadway play The Great Magoo (1932). Once re-titled the song caught on and was recorded with success by Ella Fitzgerald, the Nat King Cole Trio and the Mills Brothers. In 1945 Benny Goodman revived the number and it became a hit again. It has also been heard in the films Too Young To Know (1945), Paper Moon (1973) and Funny Lady (1975). The song is alternatively titled Paper Moon
- I've Got The World On A String (1932)
The semi swinging number by Ted Koehler (lyric) and Harold Alden (music) expresses the fanciful way one feels when in love. The image of sitting on a rainbow and having the earth on a string is ludicrous but sublime all at the same time. Aida Ward introduced the song in the Harlem revue Cotton Club Parade (1932) and soon Cab Calloway recorded a hit version of it. Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong also recorded popular versions of it. In 1953 the song was revived by Frank Sinatra, and it has been a standard in Jo Stafford's repertoire for years. It was sang by June Haver and Gloria DeHaven in the film I'll Get By (1950) and Peggy Lee's version was heard in the film What Women Want (2000).
- Judy (1934)
This sly and romantic song is about being wise over one's sweetheart instead of "head over heals." Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Sammy Lerner (lyric) wrote the song to Judy a girl who can both build you up and tear you down. The lyric implies this by saying, "seems a saint, but you find she ain't." The song was written in 1928 but was considered too "avant-garde" for mass popularity so was not published until 1934. The song was a hit for Carmichael and his band, and other early discs included the Dorsey Brothers and the Casa Loma Orchestra. It was revived in 1947 By Alan Dale and in 1949 by Lennie Tristano. Tony Bennet and Frankie Laine also had minor hits with it.
- The Jumpin' Jive (1939)
This song is a favourite of jazz musicians and singers as it lends itself to easily be scatted. It has long been associated with Cab Calloway. He collaborated with Jack Palmer and Fred Froeba to write this hit for his orchestra that proved popular enough to still be in demand his orchestra concerts for forty years. Memorable recordings were made by Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Dorsey, the Andrew Sisters and Joe Jackson. The song was featured in the movie Stormy Weather (1943), reprised by Calloway while dance to by the Nicholas Brothers.
- Junk Man (1934)
Although it's not remembered today it is notable as the first song hit for Frank Loesser. He contributed the lyrics to the swinging number about a trash man coming down the street. Joseph Murphy composed the music while Benny Goodman popularized it. On Broadway it was revived in 1980 by Debbie Shapiro in Loesser's revue Perfectly Frank
- Just A Gigolo (1930)
This is kind of a unique ballad with a bittersweet lyric and a sweet melody. The number started as a Viennese song called Scheoner Gigolo, by Julius Brammer (German lyric) and Leonello Casucci (music). Irving Caesar took the song and wrote a lyric in English about a down on his luck war hero, who is forced to flirt and dance with rich ladies for his living. He seems to boast about this career choice even as it disgusts him.
The Number was popularized in America by Ted Lewis. Another early recording by Bing Crosby proved successful. Jaye P Morgan revived the song in 1953. In 1960 Louis Prima had a hit with it. In 1985 David Lee Roth added it to I Ain't Got Nobody to form a melody and it was a minor hit with it. Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich and Sid Garry have made memorable recordings of the song.
- Lady Of Spain (1931)
This song is one of the most popular accordion pieces ever, but it was not Spain but rather Great Britain where it came from. Ray Noble introduced it to America and the song found mediocre success on records and radio until 1952, when Eddie Fisher had a million seller with it. The song was written by Robert Hargreaves, Tolchard Evans, Stanley J Damerell and Henry J Tilsley. The song can be heard in the movie Dancers In The Dark (1932) and the Off-Broadway revue Forever Plaid (1990).
- The Last Time I Saw Paris (1940)
This is an unusual song in that its songwriters Oscar Hammerstein (lyric) and Jerome Kern (music) very rarely wrote for Tin Pan Alley.
But Hammerstein was so upset about the Nazis occupying Paris in 1940 that he wrote a lyric to his favourite city. He gave it to Kern to write the music, which was unusual as Hammerstein usually wrote words for music already written.
Kate Smith introduced it on her radio show, and a movie producer heard it and interpolated it into his film Lady, Be Good (1941) where Ann Sothern sang it.
It won a controversial Academy Award for best song. Previously for a song to win the award it had to be written expressly for a movie not added to it later. This was changed not without several loud protests and complaints to the academy, which most likely changed it because of the general horror of Americans to the Nazi occupation of Paris.
Notable recordings of the song have been made by Sophie Tucker, Tony Martin and Joni James. The song was dedicated to Noel Coward by the songwriters. Dinah Shore sang it in the 1954 biography of Jerome Kern The Last Time I Saw Paris. It was also featured in the Broadway revue Jerome Kern Goes To Hollywood.
- Lawd You Made The Night Too Long (1932)
This hymn like song was intended for Tin Pan Alley rather than any church. Written by Sam M Lewis (lyric) and Isham Jones (music) this was the surprise success of the year. The bluesy prayer about the loneliness of the night when one is unloved was introduced by Guy Lombardo. The song is also heard in the film George White Scandals Of 1934 (1934). As an aside, the song Sam, You Made My Pants Too Long, was a parody of this song. It was also a hit.
- Lazy River (1931)
This songs sounds almost like a jazzed up version of an old folk song but it was all Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Sidney Arodin (lyric) who were responsible for it. The lyric which invites one "up the lazy river with me," was a hit song for Carmichael and he made it popular all over again in 1946 when he sang it in the film The Best Years Of Our Lives. In the 1950s it became a hit for the Mills Brothers and in 1961 was a hit for Bobby Darin. It has also been recorded by Benny Goodman, the Casa Loma Orchestra and Louis Armstrong.
- Lazybones (1933)
This song is of historical interest only in that it was Johnny Mercer's first hit song. It is a classic example of using a southern dialect for a dreamy and lackadaisical effect. A "do-nothin' sitting in the sun is admonished for his laziness and asked "how you 'spec' to get your day's work done?" As much as one complains to the lazybones it is clear he isn't listening and the lyric concludes with the admission "he's just made that way." Hoagy Carmichael adapted the music from his song Washboard Blues (1926). Popularized by Ben Bernie and his Orchestra it wasn't till 1939 when Louis Armstrong did it that it became a hit. Other versions have been made by Rudy Vallee, Perry Como, Crystal Gayle, and Harry Connick Jr. Midge Williams sang it in The Cotton Club (1984).
- Let's Fall In Love (1934)
This is an absolutely catchy song that I was first exposed to when I was about 5 years old. I remember watching a Three Stooges short Sweet And Hot (1958) with Joe, and "Tiny" sang it. A very unusual short but the song was so catchy I was singing it even at that young age.
Written by Harold Arlen (music) and Ted Koehler (lyric) the song was introduced by Art Jarrett in the movie Let's Fall In Love (1934) were it was reprised by Ann Sothern, but it was Eddy Duchin who had the hit with the record. In 1967 Peaches and Herb had success with the song, and other notable versions were made by Frank Sinatra, Mary Ford, Peggy Lee and Nancy Sinatra. It has also been seen in the films Tell It To The Judge (1949), Juke Box Rhythm (1959) and The Eddy Duchin Story (1956).
- Little Man You've Had A Busy Day (1934)
This song is actually a lullaby that took its title from a children's book by Hans Fallada. Maurice Sigler and Al Hoffman wrote the words and Mable Wayne composed the music. The ballad became a popular record by Isham Jones. Later discs by Perry Como, Mel Torme and Count Basie were also successful.
- Love Letters In The Sand (1931)
This was one of Pat Boone's biggest hits; it compares a love affair that has ended to the love messages they wrote in the sand. Nick And Charles Kenny wrote the words to this song as a poem and it was printed in a newspaper. Composer J Fred Coots read the poem and turned it into a song. Russ Columbo had the first success with the song, although it was only a small hit. George Hall and his Orchestra further popularized it and made it the theme to their band. But it was Boone's 1957 recording that made it to the top of the charts. Other major recordings of the song were made by Benny Goodman, Patsy Cline and Jerry Lee Lewis.