Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1/27/1940: Tommy Dorsey lands at #1 with “All the Things You Are”

image from songbook1.wordpress.com


Tommy Dorsey “All the Things You Are”


Writer(s): Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II (see lyrics here)

First charted: 12/16/1939

Peak: 12 US, 12 HP (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: “All the Things You Are” was introduced in the Broadway musical comedy Very Warm for May in November 1939. SB It was sung by Hirma Sherman, Frances Mercer, Hollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. JA-8 The show was the last hurrah for famed composer Jerome Kern. Despite delivering what some considered his finest score, script rewrites demanded from producer Max Gordon destroyed the play’s plot. It was a commercial failure, closing shortly after New Year’s Day after only 59 performances. By the second night, there were only 20 people in the audience. SB

Kern didn’t have high hopes for “All the Things” being popular, thanks to its unconventional structure and twelve-note range. MM-149 However, three versions of the song charted in 1940. It became the twelfth of Tommy Dorsey’s seventeen trips to the summit. It featured vocalist Jack Leonard, who would also sing on the chart-topping “Indian Summer,” which hit the charts a week before “All the Things You Are,” but reached #1 after “Things.”

Artie Shaw (#8) and Frankie Masters (#14) also found success with the song in 1940. Four years later, the show was adapted for the film Broadway Rhythm JA-8 and in 1945 it was used in the romantic comedy A Letter for Evie. WK Tony Martin sang it in Kern’s 1946 biopic Till the Clouds Roll By and it was crooned by Mario Lanza in the 1952 film Because You’re Young. JA-8

It became a standard covered by Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Willie Nelson, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. A survey done by JazzStandards.com identified “Things”as second only to “Body and Soul” for appearances on jazz albums. SB Parker said the song contained his favorite lyrics. WK In a 1964 Saturday Review poll, more composers named “All the Things” as their favorite than any other. TY-101


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Sunday, January 24, 2016

1/24/1925: Marion Harris charted with “Tea for Two”

image from Wikimedia.org


Marion Harris “Tea for Two”


Writer(s): Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar (see lyrics here)

First charted: 1/24/1925

Peak: 13 US, 3 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US (sheet music sales)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: This “charming boy/girl duet” LW-50 was introduced by Louise Groody and John Barker in the Broadway musical comedy No, No, Nanette. JA-189 The score was generally regarded as the best of composer Vincent Youman’s short career. He died from tuberculosis at 48. LW-50 Meanwhile, lyricist Irving Caesar “demonstrates all the hallmarks of Tin Pan Alley craftsmanship, artfully simple and pleasingly full of rhymes and alliterations.” LW-50 He was “the archetypical Tin Pan Alley cigar chomping, wisecracking showman” LW-50 with more than a 1000 songs to his name upon his death at age 101 in 1996.

The lyrics, which were dashed off in 5 minutes, were intended to be temporary, but were never changed. TY-132 Marion Harris had the first charted version, taking it to #1 in 1925. That same year, the Benson Orchestra of Chicago landed at #5 with their instrumental version while Ben Bernie also had a top ten hit with the song. PM-590 Other charted versions came from the Ipana Troubadours (#15, 1930) and Teddy Wilson (#18, 1937). PM-590 Warren Covington had a million-selling cha-cha version with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (“Tea for Two Cha Cha,” #7, 1958). TY-132

The song “is one of the most recorded standards of Tin Pan Alley,” JA-189 having been covered by musicians as diverse as Russian classical composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who adapted the tune as “Tahiti Trot” in 1928, LW-50 and jazz pianist Art Tatum (#18, 1939) whose instrumental version is “a masterclass in piano virtuosity.” LW-50 Jazz musicians have particularly responded to the song because “the complex harmonic construction of the melody gives great scope for improvisation.” LW-50

Tatum had played the song for years, even predating his initial 1933 recording of it at his debut solo recording session. Fellow musician Fats Waller once stopped in the middle of playing at New York Club when Art Tatum entered and announced, “I play piano, but God is in the house tonight!” SS-598


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

1/20/1934: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” hits #1

image from vmauctions.com


Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”


Writer(s): Jereome Kern/ Otto Harbach (see lyrics here)

First charted: 12/9/1933

Peak: 16 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: According to Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern originally composed “Smoke” for 1927’s Showboat. It was supposed to be an uptempo instrumental which accompanied a tap dance routine while scenery was changed, LW-67 although another account had the song originating as a march for a radio program which never happened. TY-70 Harbach suggested refashioning it as a ballad, at which point it was left out of Showboat. LW-67

The song is filled with challenges – such as the octave-and-a-half range for singers and, for players, a surprising key change at the bridge. MM-181 In addition, Harbach works in unlikely words like “chaffed” and “deride” – all leading toward the song’s conclusion about the end of a love affair – and the final line when the title is mentioned for the first time. MM-181

It resurfaced in 1933 for the Broadway musical Roberta. That same year, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra charted with it, going to #1 the next year. Leo Reisman (#3), Emil Coleman (#4), and Ruth Etting (#15) also charted with the song in 1934. In 1935, the musical was turned into a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. Irene Dunne performed “Smoke” in the movie. SB Artie Shaw took the song back to the charts in 1941 (#24). It was also used in the 1946 Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By. MM-181

Roberta was remade in the 1950s as the new musical and movie, Lovely to Look At. LW-67 Then, in 1958, the doo-wop group the Platters took their million-selling version to the top of the US and UK charts, showcasing “the song’s ability to both transcend time and lend itself to varied interpretations and still remain fresh.” LW-67


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hit Parade Hall of Fame

image from allaccess.com

The Hit Parade Hall of Fame website neither indicates how the Hall came about nor what the criteria are for induction. The Wikipedia page describes the Hall as “an association which highlights musical performers who have been responsible for big hit records over the years.” It also suggests artists, such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, are ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but honored by the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. A nominating committee selects acts which have at least two top ten records, in any genre, according to Billboard or Cashbox. After nominations are unveiled, the public is allowed to vote. Nominees are revealed in the second week of February and inductees are named in the second week of January. Here are the inductees and nominees from 2007 to 2015.


A-B

  • ABBA (2009)
  • Aerosmith (2014)
  • Air Supply (2015)
  • Alabama (2014)
  • Herb Alpert (2009)
  • America (2009)
  • Ames Brothers (2009)
  • Paul Anka (2007)
  • Louis Armstrong (2009)
  • Eddy Arnold (2015)
  • Frankie Avalon (2009)
  • The Beach Boys (2007)
  • The Beatles (2007)
  • The Bee Gees (2008)
  • Harry Belafonte (2009)
  • Tony Bennett (2007)
  • Brook Benton (2009)
  • Chuck Berry (2008)
  • Pat Boone (2007)
  • Bread (2008)
  • Teresa Brewer (2007)
  • James Brown (2010)
  • The Buckinghams (2009)

C


D

  • Bobby Darin (2007)
  • Sammy Davis Jr. (2009)
  • Doris Day (2007)
  • Jimmy Dean (2008)
  • The Del-Vikings (2008)
  • John Denver (2008)
  • Jackie DeShannon (2010)
  • Neil Diamond (2007)
  • The Diamonds (2008)
  • Bo Diddley (2010)
  • Dion (2007)
  • Fats Domino (2007)
  • Doobie Brothers (2011)
  • Doors (2009)
  • Drifters (2009)
  • Bob Dylan (2012)

E-F

  • Eagles (2008)
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (2011)
  • Duane Eddy (2011)
  • Tommy Edwards (2009)
  • Electric Light Orchestra (2008)
  • The Everly Brothers (2008)
  • Percy Faith (2011)
  • Ferrante & Teicher (2011)
  • The 5th Dimension (2009)
  • Eddie Fisher (2009)
  • Roberta Flack (2015)
  • Fleetwood Mac (2009)
  • Dan Fogelberg (2010)
  • The Fontane Sisters (2009)
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford (2009)
  • Four Aces (2009)
  • Four Lads (2009)
  • Four Seasons with Frankie Valli (2007)
  • Four Tops (2009)
  • Connie Francis (2007)
  • Aretha Franklin (2007)

G-H-I-J

  • Marvin Gaye (2009)
  • Gerry & the Pacemakers (2010)
  • Don Gibson (2008)
  • Lesley Gore (2009)
  • Al Green (2011)
  • Daryl Hall & John Oates (2011)
  • Roy Hamilton (2008)
  • Jimi Hendrix (2012)
  • Herman’s Hermits (2014)
  • Al Hibbler (2008)
  • Buddy Holly & the Crickets (2009)
  • Johnny Horton (2009)
  • Whitney Houston (2014)
  • The Isley Brothers (2011)
  • The Jackson 5
  • Michael Jackson-2009)
  • Joni James (2009)
  • Sonny James (2009)
  • Tommy James & the Shondells (2008)
  • Jan & Dean (2012)
  • Jefferson Airplane/Starship (2014)
  • Billy Joel (2009)
  • Elton John (2008)
  • George Jones (2009)
  • Tom Jones (2008)

K-L

  • Kitty Kallen (2009)
  • KC & the Sunshine Band (2009)
  • Andy Kim (2009)
  • Ben E. King (2015)
  • Carole King (2009)
  • The Kingston Trio (2008)
  • The Kinks (2014)
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips (2009)
  • Frankie Laine (2008)
  • Steve Lawrence (2015)
  • Brenda Lee (2007)
  • The Letterman (2012)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis (2008)
  • Gordon Lightfoot (2010)
  • Little Anthony & the Imperials (2008)
  • Little Richard (2009)
  • Lovin’ Spoonful (2008)

M-N-O

  • The Mamas & the Papas (2009)
  • Barry Manilow (2009)
  • Dean Martin (2008)
  • Al Martino (2009)
  • Johnny Mathis (2007)
  • Reba McEntire (2014)
  • The McGuire Sisters (2009)
  • Clyde McPhatter (2008)
  • Mitch Miller (2008)
  • Roger Miller (2015)
  • Steve Miller Band (2010)
  • Ronnie Milsap (2012)
  • The Miracles (2011)
  • Guy Mitchell (2008)
  • The Monkees (2008)
  • Van Morrison (2014)
  • Anne Murray (2010)
  • Ricky Nelson (2007)
  • Willie Nelson (2010)
  • Olivia Newton-John (2008)
  • Roy Orbison (2007)
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn (2011)
  • Donny Osmond (2011)
  • Marie Osmond (2011)
  • The Osmonds (2011)

P-Q

  • Patti Page (2007)
  • Dolly Parton (2011)
  • Les Paul & Mary Ford (2009)
  • Peter, Paul & Mary (2009)
  • Pink Floyd (2010)
  • Gene Pitney (2009)
  • Platters (2009)
  • Pointer Sisters (2011)
  • Elvis Presley (2007)
  • Billy Preston (2011)
  • Lloyd Price (2008)
  • Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (2009)

R

  • The Rascals (aka “The Young Rascals”) (2010)
  • Johnny Ray/The Four Lads (2007)
  • Helen Reddy (2009)
  • Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (2010)
  • Paul Revere & the Raiders (2010)
  • Charlie Rich (2015)
  • Lionel Richie (2011)
  • Righteous Brothers (2010)
  • Johnny Rivers (2008)
  • Marty Robbins (2009)
  • Smokey Robinson (2011)
  • Jimmie Rodgers (2009)
  • Tommy Roe (2010)
  • Kenny Rogers (2008)
  • The Rolling Stones (2009)
  • Linda Ronstadt (2008)
  • Bobby Rydell (2009)
  • Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (2008)

S

  • Santana (2010)
  • Jack Scott (2008)
  • Neil Sedaka (2007)
  • David Seville (2010)
  • Del Shannon (2009)
  • The Shirelles (2010)
  • Simon & Garfunkel (2009)
  • Frank Sinatra (2007)
  • Sly & the Family Stone (2011)
  • Spinners (2011)
  • Dusty Springfield (2008)
  • Bruce Springsteen (2011)
  • Sonny & Cher (2008)
  • Jo Stafford (2009)
  • The Staple Singers (2014)
  • Kay Starr (2008)
  • Steely Dan (2014)
  • Ray Stevens (2012)
  • Gale Storm (2008)
  • George Strait (2015)
  • Barbra Streisand (2009)
  • Supremes with Diana Ross (2007)

T-U-V

  • James Taylor (2010)
  • The Temptations (2009)
  • BJ Thomas (2008)
  • Three Dog Night (2009)
  • Johnny Tillotson (2008)
  • Tina Turner (2015)
  • The Turtles (2012)
  • Conway Twitty (2014)
  • Bobby Vee (2009)
  • Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps (2008)
  • Bobby Vinton (2009)

W-X-Y-Z

  • Jerry Wallace (2008)
  • War (2008)
  • Dionne Warwick (2009)
  • Dinah Washington (2008)
  • Andy Williams (2009)
  • Roger Williams (2010)
  • Jackie Wilson (2008)
  • Stevie Wonder (2008)

Resources:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1/13/1923: Van & Schenck chart with “Carolina in the Morning”

image from songbook1.wordpress.com


Van & Schenck “Carolina in the Morning”


Writer(s): Gus Kahn/ Walter Donaldson (see lyrics here)

First charted: 1/13/1923

Peak: 13 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music sales)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: The song was introduced by Vaudeville performer William Frawley and then quickly added to the musical revue The Passing Show of 1922, RCG where it was sung by Willie and Eugene Howard. JA-33 The show opened on September 20, 1922 at the Winter Garden Theater and closed on December 2, 1922 after 85 performances. SB

In addition to Van & Schenck’s #1 recording of the song, three other versions charted in 1923 – Marion Harris (#4), Paul Whiteman (#5), and the American Quartet (#8). Al Jolson revived it in the movie The Jolson Story (1946) RCG with a version which outsold the original. WK It emerged again in the 1951 Gus Kahn biopic I’ll See You in My Dreams. JA-33 Danny Winchell charted with it in 1952, making it to #30. Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Bill Haley & His Comets, Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, and Dinah Shore have all recorded it. SB Frawley himself sang the song on two different television shows on which he was a star – I Love Lucy and My Three Sons WK and Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore performed it on The Dick Van Dyke Show. WK The song has also been used frequently for Warner Brothers’ Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons. WK

Both North and South Carolina lay claim to this tune which deals with longing to “return home where ‘The dew is pearly kinda early in the morning’.” RCG “The southern drawl is alluded to by rhyming ‘Carolina’ with ‘finer.’” RCG

Amusingly, the song was written by a New Yorker (Walter Donaldson, born in Brooklyn in 1893) and a German (Gus Kahn, born in Coblenz in 1886). Donaldson wrote more than 600 songs; his best known came in the years between World War I and II. PS Kahn’s family came to the United States in 1891 and settled in Chicago. He had his first song published in 1907 and then wrote lyrics for vaudeville performers in Chicago and New York before moving to California in 1933 to write for movies. Some of his best-known songs are “Pretty Baby” (1916), “Makin’ Whoopee” (1928), and “Liza” (1928). PS


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Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie: In Memory of the Chameleon

This is an adapted version of content I originally posted on January 8, 2012 in honor of David Bowie's birthday.

Rock's most celebrated chameleon, David Bowie, is dead at 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Born on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England, Bowie left one of the most indelible stamps on rock history as he traversed through a variety of personas from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke. Rather than rehash the same biographical information which can be found at any news outlet, I'll reflect on how this musician has heavily shaped my personal tastes.

According to music-map.com, some of Bowie’s closest musical relatives are contemporaries like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and their bands Velvet Underground and The Stooges respectively. However, Bowie’s reach in shaping the music of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s shows up quickly with the who’s who list of punk and alternative rock bands like Roxy Music, The Ramones, The Clash, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and The Pixies.

I didn’t “discover” David Bowie until the early ‘80s. I was in high school when “Let’s Dance” hit #1 and presented Bowie as another pop icon who looked good on MTV. I didn’t think that song was all that special, but still enjoyed it and most of the top 40 hits that followed that decade, including “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, “Blue Jean”, his cover of “Dancing in the Street” with Mick Jagger, “”Day-In, Day-Out”, and “Never Let Me Down”.

As I’ve often argued, though, sometimes it’s the most commercial and least-interesting stuff from an artist’s catalog which proves to be the springboard for discovering that artist at his or her best. I moved from Bowie’s ‘80s pop output to classic rock staples like “Changes”, “Fame”, “Space Oddity”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “The Jean Genie”, “Young Americans”, and “Golden Years”. Eventually, though, I dipped further into Bowie’s '70s albums and became enthralled with the man who perpetually reinvented his musical identity, working his way through roles as diverse as British folk troubadour, alien rocker, robotic soul singer, and German electronica maven.

Now I can proudly boast to owning all of Bowie’s official studio releases (25+) as well as a slew of live albums and other rarities. I seem to be one of the few who loved his late ‘80s/early ‘90s foray into noise rock with Tin Machine and I thought his 1995 Outside album deserved to be touted as one of those albums which ranked up there with Nine Inch Nails for shaping industrial rock. Like many Bowie fans, I anxiously pray that he hasn’t truly retired from music and that he will soon break his nearly decade-long break from releasing a studio album. Still, even if he never releases anything again, his legacy is secured as one of the most influential artists of all time and one of my personal musical heroes.


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Thursday, January 7, 2016

1/7/1928: Gene Austin charts with “My Melancholy Baby”

image from Wikipedia.org


Gene Austin with Nat Shilkret’s Orchestra “My Melancholy Baby”


Writer(s): Ernie Burnett/ George Norton (see lyrics here)

First charted: 1/7/1928

Peak: 3 US, 15 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: Ernie Burnett’s only hit also brought him back to life, in a manner of speaking. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1884, he went abroad to Italy and Austria as a teen to study music and performed as a vaudeville pianist upon his return in 1901. He led his own orchestra, founded his own publishing company, and served in World War I. PS

“Melancholy,” as the song was originally published in 1912, JA-142 ended up in Burnett’s lap when George Norton registered the song with a lyric from his wife, Maybelle Watson but it was sold when the pair divorced. Burnett was brought in to tweak the lyrics. LW-27 The song was then introduced in vaudeville by Winsom June Le Fey, JA-142 Jack O’Leary, or William Frawley, SB depending on which account you believe. More details point to Frawley, as it is suggested that he performed the song publicly at the Mozart CafĂ© in Denver, Colorado, in 1912. SB The song first charted in 1915 when vaudeville actor and singer Walter Van Brunt took it to #9.

When Burnett was wounded while serving in France, he lost his nametag and his memory. As far as anyone knew, he had been killed in action. However, when he heard someone performing “My Melancholy Baby” to entertain the wounded, Burnett declared, “That’s my song!” LW-27

The song continued to claim new audiences over the years as it passed through different publishers. Gene Austin took it to #3 in 1928. Other charted versions included Al Bowlly (#20, 1935), Teddy Wilson with Ella Fitzgerald on vocals (#6, 1936), Bing Crosby (#14, 1939), tenor sax player Sam Donohue (#5, 1947), and Tommy Edwards (#26, 1959). JA-142 Crosby sang it for 1941’s The Birth of the Blues. The song was reprised by Judy Garland in 1954’s A Star Is Born, Gogi Grant in 1957’s The Helen Morgan Story, and Barbra Streisand in 1964’s Funny Girl. PS Other artists to cover it include Miles Davis, the Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman, Dean Martin, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Frank Sinatra. LW-27W


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