American Songs and Musicals in the "Thirties"
L'The distant echo
of the guns
While the engagements rage in Europe, the American citizen tries to forget that the war is behind his door while slipping as soon as he gets the opportunity in the felted comfort of the dark rooms. In January, the Grapes of Wrath, a movie directed by John Ford and starring Henri Fonda comes however to recall him that not a long time ago, he also crossed there very bad moments.
Based on the novel by John Steinbeck published the previous
year, the history tells the exile of a farmers' family from Oklahoma in the grip of vicissitudes of the Great Depression. But here is that the magic operates again with the release on February 7th of Pinocchio, the second major animated film produced by Walt Disney, according to the work of the Italian novelist Carlo Collodi. The project had already matured before even as Snow White apperaed on the silver screen but the development of the characters took time, one of them in particular, a certain Jiminy Cricket, which constitutes the essential articulation of the story (whereas it is away from the original novel).
While the Phony War seems to everlast on the other side of the ocean, New York celebrates in large pumps the arrival of Queen Elizabeth for its inaugural crossing. Spring is announced radiant and on air, no one can’t escape Glenn Miller and his orchestra with In The Mood, number 1 of the sales since winter.
Albania has just been annexed by Italy in the general indifference when on April 19th occurs a terrible rail crash close to the station of Little Falls (NY). While trying to fill up the delay taken from Albany, the driver of the Lake Shore Ltd connecting New York to Chicago (cf North By North West, Alfred Hithcock 1958) runs at full speed and reaches at 59 mph the dangerous curve of North Falls.
Speed is too excessive to avert the disaster from occuring. The engine runs off the rails drawing all the wagons away. In the fragments, 31 deaths are counted and rare are those of the 208 passengers who take out unharmed.
The Olympic Games which must take place in Helsinki are cancelled on May 1st. The war settles this time definitely in Europe. The German troops invade the Netherlands and Belgium in a few days and it gets from them only a little more than a month to be right of France.
To face such a situation, the Congress authorizes the pointing of foreign residents and, a fact without precedent in the history of the United States, the Democrats choose to nominate President Roosevelt for a third mandate. Considering the circumstances, the Republicans have no means of being opposed to it and Roosevelt is re-elected in November in spite of the limitation established in his time by George Washington himself.
In Europe, the provocations of the countries of the Axis have not ceased since summer, putting the pressure on the United States but, in spite of that, the opinion mainly remains tied to neutrality. The Republican camp would prefer that America gets more involved beside the English and French soldiers but the Democratic party persists on its side to be opposed to any military commitment, pointing out the spectrum of the First World War.
The desperate calls of Churchill remain accordingly unanswered whereas England undergoes the attacks of the Luftwaffe even if, in the secrecy, the British mission led by Henry Tizard makes it possible to hope for a close collaboration of the United States for the setting in point of new technologies of war.
The re-election of Franklin Roosevelt urges at last the House to soften the American position by granting a substantial help to London, on the basis of the principle which it is a duty to fight the enemies of the democracy. It gives furthermore its consent to the strengthening of the Navy and to the attribution of a credit of 900 millions $ for the manufacturing of 50,000 planes a year.
From 1940 remains still today the atmosphere of Manderley, the stifling presence of the beautiful Rebecca De Winter, the glance freezing Miss Danvers, the spellbinding voice of Joan Fontaine and this sentence ... But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back to the strange days of my life which began for me in the south of France... (Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca, 1940)
In another kind, finally, the first McDonald's restaurant opens at San Bernardino in California.
The year in music
2 Considered to be both partial and approximate, the first Hit Parade set up in 1935 to list the hits of the musical production is replaced by the new ranking published from July by the Billboard Magazine, referring this time to the real number of the record sales. It is to Tommy Dorsey that returns the distinguished honor to be the first n°1 of the history of Charts with I' ll never smile again, a sentimental ballad written by Ruth Lowe. The song which will remain at the top for 12 weeks constitutes moreover a big masterstroke for his vocalist, a 25-year-old young man named Frank Sinatra. Then comes the everlasting Bing Crosby who, with Only Forever, a song without true claim, shows once again that he remains quite a popular artist near the American public. Artie Shaw reaches also the podium thanks to Frenesi, an instrumental track which, with Stardust, contributes to do of him one of the most dashing artists of the moment.
Following the example of Artie Shaw, the big bands seem in this year to favor romanticism and ballads, as if time had just claimed a pause before the coming of storms already crashing down onto the horizon. In this register, Glenn Miller has occupied for soon one year the top of the chart and week after week , his repertoire doesn’t cease expanding of new hits such as A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square or Boog it without counting up unforgettable instrumental tracks like In The Mood, Pennsylvania 65000 or Tuxedo Junction. He also records When you wish upon a star, the emblematic song introduced by Cliff Edwards (aka Jiminy Cricket) in Pinocchio, the unforgettable animated film produced by the Walt Disney’s studios.
This softened approach of the big bands’ way of playing also relates to leaders such as Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa or Erskine Hawkins. Obviously, the coming of a new crooner so charismatic as Frank Sinatra as much as the sudden popularity of young vocalists like Bob Eberly and his brother Ray confirm this inflection. Going further, the Ink Spots, an African American vocal group acquire their fame while specializing in melodies at the extremely slow rhythms.
3 Concerning female singers, Mildred Bailey whose thin voice has given rhythm to most of the swings of the 30’s seems now somewhat in withdrawal since the arrival of a new generation of particularly blazing vocalists. Martha Tilton and Helen Forrest have already proved the extent of their talent but it is without counting on catchy Helen O' Connell who will need only little time to become the whooping idol of the American public. New particularly convincing voices as MaryAnn cCall, Anita Boyer or Louise Tobin add to this year a rather attractive tint which explains somewhere why they were given the name of “band canaries”.
Does it mean that the spirit of swing weakens or worse still, that jazz has succumbed to the tempo molto moderato? Reassure us, the Andrews Sisters haven’t lost anything of their energy, as point out the first notes of Beat me Daddy eight to the bar, a song inspired of the most radical boogie-woogie.
In fact, the ways diverge. The popular music takes a undoubtedly a more sentimental orientation but the developers of boogie-woogie had time to gain a widespread acceptance and brought in return a new impulse to jazz. It is in particular the case of Jimmie Lunceford who gets the opportunity to appoint the company of the Dandridge Sisters, three talented swingy young vocalists.
Andy Kirk, the veteran of Kansas City makes from his part a strong comeback but the true event of the year is called Charlie Christian, a young musician who is on the point to make the revolution with his electric guitar, an instrument conveived a few years earlier of which he is the first to master with so much ingenuity. Taking advantage of this dynamism, bandleaders see opening of amazing opportunities which will allow them to evolve towards a more and more sophisticated music, leaving free course to improvisation and virtuosity. In this kind, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton already gives the way.
4 Relentlessly, Duke Ellington gets this year noticed by the release of Cotton Tail and Take the A Train, two explosive tracks which will soon appear among the big standards. On the other hand, a new jazz trend continues following the example of the saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, offering a new musical destructured conceipt combining heightened sensitivity to a genius of improvisation.
After having immortalized Strange Fruit the previous year, Billie Holiday is now surrounded by Teddy Wilson, Roy Eldridge and Lester Young, two musicians
pointing to the row of the best and with whom she has respite to investigate the register of emotion. Her own performance of Time one my hands, a hit of the beginning of the 30s is on this object simply amazing.
Ella Fitzgerald has chosen to form her own band and reaches a maturity which makes her now the other major voice of jazz. The public lends also the ear to a young vocalist who makes the beautiful days of the NBC by singing the blues and the tunes from the South in a very personal way. Dinah Shore had postulated without success with Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey but the radio componing, as everyone knows, an excellent way of promotion, she has just been proposed her first recording contract by the RCA. Released in December, her single entitled Yes, my darling daughter will fast become a hit.
Hollywood produces less musicals than the previous years but these are always high-quality. If Broadway Melody of 1940 remains the strong moment of the year, let us also quote Little Nellie Kelly in whom Judy Garland performs for the first time Singing in the rain, Tin Pan Alley with Alice Faye and Betty Grable or Lilian Russell with the same Alice Faye and Henry Fonda.
Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell in "The Grapes of Wrath" (John Ford, 20th Fox)
Benny Goodman & Helen Forrest - How High The Moon
Billie Holiday - Time On My Hands
Franz Waxman - Rebecca (Ouverture)
5 Broadway Melody of 1940
The first musical performed by Fred Astaire for the MGM
Cast and Crew
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Jack Cummings
Writer: Leon Gordon
Music: Cole Porter
Actors: Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, George Murphy, Frank Morgan
Fred Astaire definitely turned over the page of the RKO with which,
despite everything, he has regularly performed during 7 years of
uninterrupted success. For her part, Ginger Rogers left the musical for
the dramatic directory. It is Eleanor Powell who replaces her in this
movie constituting the 4th and last part of a series of which she has
moreover been the star. For the first time of his career, Fred Astaire
admits that he is impressed by the technical qualities shown by
Eleanor Powell, some people even saying that she is able to
surpass him. Anyway, the idea of bringing together
two huge stars of musical works beautifully. As one says, it
is even possible to advance that they are here at the top of their art.
MGM hoped to get an international success and had originally planned
to shoot the movie in Technicolor but the war in Europe forced it to
review the project down and more modestly, the film was shot in black and
Eleanor Powell plays a Broadway star who prepares a new show in which
she chose to dance with the one who ordinary forms a duet with Fred
Astaire. The affair combines rather evil and as Fred Astaire is a much better
dancer than his partner, it is he who finally takes the place and manages
moreover to win the heart of the star.
Cole Porter wrote the score, which allowed him to integrate Begin the Beguine,
the instrumental version of which recorded by Artie Shaw having been one of the biggest hits of the previous year.
Among other titles, include I got my eyes on you danced and sung by Fred Astaire and I concentrate on you
danced by Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell.
Let us however notice that Fred Astaire is not the direct performer of this last song but he will record a few later
a remarkable version of it. Let us simply remind by the way that Eleanor Powell was a real poor
singer and needed to get a voice actress.
Begin the Beguine (Cole Porter)
The lyrics are performed on the screen by actress Carmen D'Antonio (dubbed by the black singer laws Hodnett)
It is a quite exceptional dance number , of an intensity that goes crescendo into a real competition, worse yet a war of attrition between Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. A very effective work
The Jukebox Dance
Eleanaor Powell will declare thereafter that she considered this as the best routine she ever performed in a movie.
Fred Astaire - I concentrate on you
Frank Sinatra, the beginnings of a legend
7 The essential Hits of the year (1)
01 - Charlie Barnet (New York (NY) 1913 – San Diego (CA) 1991) feat. Mary Ann McCall (Philadelphia (PA) 1919 – Los Angeles (CA)1994) – Where Was I (Al Dubin)
02 – Benny Goodman (Chicago (IL) 1906 – New York (NY)) feat. Helen Forrest (Helen Fogel – Atlantic City (NJ) 1917 – Los Angeles (CA) 1999) – How high the moon 3:00 (Mogan Lewis, Nancy Hamilton)
One of the most popular Jazz standards created in Broadway for the musical Two for the Show and performed the first time by Alfred Drake.
03 – Cab Calloway (Rochester (NY) 1907 – Hockessin (DE) 1994 ) – A chicken ain’t nothing but a bird 2:52 (E.B. Wallace)
04 – Jimmy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1904 – New York (NY) 1957) feat. Bob Eberly (Mechanicville (NY) 1916 – Glen Burnie (MD) 1981) – The breeze and I 2:59 (Ernest Lecuona, Al Stillman)
This song directly inspired by Andalucia written by the Spanish author Ernest Lecuona is especially remarkable for its similar instrumental progress to famous "Bolero de Ravel".
03 – Ella Fitzgerald (Newport News (VA) 1917 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1996) & His Famous Orchestra – Baby, won’t you please come home 2:35 (Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams)
A great tribute to Bessie Smith who had interpreted this song for the first time in 1923.
06 – Artie Shaw (Arthur Arshawsky – New Haven (CT) 1910 – Newbury Park (CA) 2004) feat. Anita Boyer (? - 1984) - Whispers in the night 2:57 ()
07 – Glenn Miller (Clarinda (IA) 1904 - airplane crash above the Channel dec. 15, 1944) feat. Ray Eberle (Hoosick Falls (NY) 1919 – Douglasville (GA) 1979) – A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square 2:50 (Eric Mashwitz, Manning Sherwin)
Glenn Miller shows there that he excels at the romantic directory. The most amazing is that this song which recalls a place in London was written in 1939 in a little town near the French Riviera named the Lavandou, shortly before the war statement.
The history does not stop there since it was interpreted for the first
time in London in spring, 1940 in the show New Faces by Judy Campbell who will be later the mother of Jane Birkin.
08 – The Andrew Sisters (Formed in Minneapolis (MN)
1925) – Beat me Daddy eight to the bar 2:50 (Don Raye, Ray McKinley)
This song written in the boogie-woogie style (eight to the bar = in eight measures) was interpreted for the first time in the piano by Freddie Slack (aka Daddy) with in support the band of Will Bradley.
09 – Jimmie Lunceford (Fulton (MS) 10902 – Seaside (OR) 1947) feat. The Dandridge Sisters – Red wagon 2 :56 (Don Raye, Gene DePaul, Richard M. Jones)
The archetype of the swing-boogie which is going to become the symbol of a whole period. Both solo voices are the ones of Joe Thomas and Dorothy Dandridge.
10 - Bing Crosby (Tacoma (WA) 1903 – Madrid (Esp.)1977) – The moon comes over Madison Square 3:10 (Abe Lyman, Arthur Freed , Gus Arnheim)
Song from the movie Rhythm on the River directed by Victor Shertzinger starring Bing Crosby, Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone. It is the result of Empty Saddles, nostalgia, always nostalgia .
11 – Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1905 – Greenwich (CT) 1956) feat. Frank Sinatra (Hoboken (NJ) 1915 – Los Angeles (CA) 1998) – Imagination 3:22 (James Van Heusen, Johnny Burke)
Glenn Miller introduced this song in his repertoire shortly before Tommy Dorsey.
12 – Andy Kirk & His Twelve Clouds of Joys (Newport (KY) 1898 – New York (NY) 1992) feat. June Richmond (Chicago (IL) 1915 – Göteborg (Suède) 1962) – It always will be you 3:15 (Copano, Hays, O’Day)
June Richmond's magnificent performance. Let us note by the way that this singer will work in France after World War II with Henri Salvador and Gilbert Bécaud
6 Born Italian, his parents having had only a son surrounded him with all their affection, what did not prevent the young Francis from being a sometimes difficult boy. Expelled from the college for bad behavior, he was even arrested still minor together with a married woman, what in that time constituted an offence.
The fact of not following music lessons had even no impact on his decision to make a musical career. It is alone that he learnt to play the ukulele whereas his voice already led to foresee real capacities for singing. His models were, as for the young people of his generation, Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee, the most popular both singers of time. By drawing inspiration from their style he began to perform in the evening in a bar of Hoboken while working in the daytime in factory or as deliverer of newspapers.
In 1935, his mother reached to make him hire in a vocal group of the city, the Three Flashes, but in spite of the initiation of a first radio hit, he quickly gave up and returned home. It was once again his mother who picked him up a new job. He found himself waiter at the Rustic Cabin, a large restaurant of Englewood Cliffs (NJ) where he had especially the advantage to liven up the evenings.
He was about to marry Nancy Barbato, the love of his life, when he got pointed out by the trumpeter Harry James who attended the place at the same moment. This one was precisely forming his own band and impressed by the young singer’s talent, he made him sign a first contract in June, 1939 for a series of recordings for Brunswick. Sales remained however confidential.
While he was performing in November in the Palm House, Chicago, Frank Sinatra crossed this time Tommy Dorsey who immediately suggested to hire him to replace his vocalist Jack Leonard, eager to launch into solo career. He did not wait for a long time to grab the opportunity which was offered to him and made his first appearance in the band on January 26th, 1940 in Rockford (IL). A particularly prolific year with not less than 40 recorded tracks was soon to follow.
Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra with Frank Sinatra and the
'I'll never smile again" (Ruth Lowe)
7 Andy Hardy Meets Debutante
Direction : George B . Seltz
Music ; Alex Hyde, David Snell
Actors : Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy), Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy), Cecilia Parker (Marian Hardy), Judy Garland (Betsy Booth),…
This comedy directed for the Metro Goldwyn Mayer forms the second part of the adventures of the young Andy Hardy, starring Mickey Rooney. The movie puts once more in the spotlight youth love affairs comparing this time the simplicity of the provincial life to the sophisticated paces of the New York upper middle class and to the disappointments which it involves
It is also the third successful movie in which Mickey Rooney forms a couple with Judy Garland. She does not have the leading role but eventually comes out better than the other actors by performing two songs, Alone and especially I'm Nobody's Baby which will become one of the hits of the year and insure in a definitive way her statute of star. These two songs were not at first written for the movie but we must recognize that Judy Garland makes them undergo a real face-lift.
Alone (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed) - song written in 1935 for the movie A Night At The Opera.
I’m nobody’s baby 2:31 (Milton Ager, Benny Davis, Lester Santly)
Song performed for the first time in 1921 by the vocalist Aileen Stanley.
9 The essential Hits of 1940 (2)
01 – Glenn Miller (Clarinda (IA) 1904 - airplane crash above the Channel dec. 15, 1944) feat. Ray Eberle (Hoosick Falls (NY) 1919 –Douglasville (GA) 1979) – Shake down the stars 2:35 (Eddie DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen)
02 – Earl Hines (Chicago (IL) 1906 – New York (NY) 1987) feat. Madeline Green & Boys (Cleveland) – Everything depends on you 2:31 (Charles Carpenter, Earl Hines, Louis Dunlap)
03 – Dinah Shore (Frances Shore – Winchester (TN) 1916 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1996) – Yes My darling daughter 2:20 (Jack Lawrence)
Song inspired of an Ukrainian traditional lullaby which was for the first time interpreted on stage in 1812 in a play written by Catterino Cavos. The melody already toured the world but Dinah Shore brings there youth and freshness.
04 – Cliff Edwards (Hannibal (MO) 1895 – Hollywood (CA) 1971) – When you wish upon a star 2:50 (Leigh Harline, Ned Washington)
Cliff Edwards had already lent his voice to several characters of cartoons before Walt Disney makes of him under the features of Jiminy Cricket the unforgettable performer of this song with strong emotional contents.
05 – Jimmy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1904 – New York (NY) 1957) feat. Bob Eberly (Mechanicville (NY) 1916 – Glen Burnie (MD) 1981) & Helen O’Connell (Lima (OH) 1920 – San Diego (CA) 1993) – Amapola 3:26 (Joseph LaCalle)
Spanish song created in 1924 performed for the first time in English by Deanna Durbin in 1937.
06 – Bing Crosby (Tacoma (WA) 1903 – Madrid (Esp.)1977) – Only forever 3:19 (James V. Monaco, Johnny Burke)
Created by Bing Crosby himself in the movie Rhythm on the River
07 – Charlie Barnet (New York (NY) 1913 – San Diego (CA) 1991) feat. Mary Ann McCall (Philadelphia (PA) 1919 – Los Angeles (CA)1994) – Six Lessons for Madame LaZonga 3:17 (James V. Monaco, Charles Newman)
The title of this rhumba is also the one of a movie released in 1941. Jimmy Dorsey made a remarkable version with Helen O' Connell but, on the other hand, the tone of voice of Mary Ann McCall gains there in sensuality.
08 – Gene Krupa (Chicago (IL) 1909 – Yonkers (NY) 1973) feat. Howard Dulany – Moments in the moonlight 2:35 (Al Hoffman, Irving Gordon, Richard Himber)
09 – Louis Armstrong (New Orleans (LA) 1901 – New York (NY ) 1971) with The Mills Brothers – Marie 2:40 (Irving Berlin)
Cover of a song written in 1929 interpreted since by many artists, including Nat Shilkret and Rudy Vallee.
10 – Cab Calloway (Rochester (NY) 1907 – Hockessin (DE) 1991) – The worker’s train 3:17 (Arthur Shaftel, Cab Calloway, Sunny Kylar)
11 – Ella Fitzgerald (Newport News (VA) 1917 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1996) & Her Famous Orchestra – At The starlit hour 3:13 (Mitchell Parish, Peter DeRose)
12 – Jimmie Lunceford (Fulton (MS) 10902 – Seaside (OR) 1947) feat. Trummy Young (Savannah (GA) 1912 – San Jose (CA) 1984) – Watcha know Joe 1:58 (Virgil Stamps, Luther G. Presley)
Trummy Young, a vocalist but overall a trombonist began his career with Earl Hines and already played with Ella Fitzgerald.
10 Dinah Shore, an outstanding voice
Dinah Shore (Frances Shore – Winchester (TN) 1916 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1996) –
Yes My darling daughter 2:20 (Jack Lawrence)
Dinah Shore belongs to these artists with incomparable talent to which will have been needed obstinacy to be finally admitted of theirs. Didn't Fred Astaire, himself,
have during his first audition in Hollywood rated like poor dancer and poor
singer? It is strange, indeed, that the Dorsey brothers and Benny Goodman,
famous to appear among the large discoverers of artists were not enticed by
the incomparable voice of this young contraltist while a simple layman has
only to listen to the first notes of Yes, My Darling Daughter to understand
that one deals here with an outstanding singer. She recalls in some respects
Lee Morse, a singer very popular at the end of the Twenties or Alice Faye at
one time when the good share being allocated to the mezzo-soprano, the
peculiar character of the contralto was hardly in vogue.
Dinah, of her real name
Frances Rose was born
in Tennessee of Jewish
parents. She keeps of
her childhood the
aftereffects of a
when she was two years but
even more the memory of
the wrath of her father when
he recognized by their shoes those who paraded under the costumes of the Klan in the streets of their city. Still a little girl, she already sang for the customers of the family grocery but it is at 14 that she decides to assert her vocation being hired as torch singer in a night club of Nashville.
Her parents immediately put an end to the experience and Francs leaves to study at the university. Despite a Sociology degree obtained in 1938, she has lost none of the hope to
become a singer and attends the Grand Ole Opry while taking part in radio broadcasts. She appears on CBS and NBC, where she sings Dinah, a hit of the past years that will inspire her stage name.
Impressed by the voice of the young woman, Eddie Cantor who leads then on NBC the very popular radio show Time to Smile, suggests her recording an Ukrainian ballad entitled in English Yes My Darling Daughter. The success is overwhelming.
About 500 000 records are sold in a few weeks, an unusual score for a young artist.
Dinah Shore will have thereafter a decisive influence on singers like Doris Day and Patti Page.
11 the "band canaries" of 1940
Anita Boyer ( - 1984)
After a few months as a singer in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, she joined Artie Shaw at the end of 1940. Her vocal range allows her to move with ease of swing tunes with sentimental ballads.
Helen O’Connell (Lima (OH) 1920 – San Diego (CA) 1993)
She began her professional career in the band of Jimmy Richards, then worked a while as a host on a radio station in St. Louis before leaving to sing with Larry Funk. It was during a visit to New York that after hearing her voice, Jimmy Dorsey offers to hire her to compensate for the lightning passing of the young Ella Mae Morse. Despite a limited vocal range, she will provide with Bob Eberly some of the best hits of the band. The readers of Down Beat magazine, devoted to jazz and blues will elect her best singer of the year 1940.
Mary Ann McCall (Philadelphia (PA) 1919 – Los Angeles (CA) 1994)
Appreciated for her warm voice, she goes with the same ease from jazz to folk tunes. After a brief stint in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, she began to get noticed in the band of Woody Herman before joining Charlie Barnet with whom she will know a significant success.
Dinah Shore - Yes, my darling daughter
12 The essential hits of the year (3)
01– Jimmie Lunceford (Fulton (MS) 10902 – Seaside (OR) 1947) feat. The Dandridge Sisters – You ain’t nowhere 2;56 (Don Redman)
02 – Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (Rocky Mount (NC) 1905 – Chapel Hill (NC) 1985) feat. Ginny Simms (San Antonio (TX) 1913 – Palm Springs (CA) 1994) – I can’t forget to remember 2:06 (William Hampton, George W. Duning)
03 – Glenn Miller (Clarinda (IA) 1904 - airplane crash above the Channel dec. 15, 1944) feat. Marion Hutton (Marion Thornburg -Battle Creek (MI) 1919 – Kirkland (WA)1987) – Give a little whistle 2:32 (Leigh Harline, Ned Washington)
A successful version of one of the major songs introduced in Pinocchio of Walt Disney.
04 – Benny Goodman (Chicago –IL) 1906 – New York (NY) 1987) with Mildred Bailey (Tekoa (WA) 1907 – Poughkeepsie (NY) 1951) – Darn that dream 3:02 (Eddy DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen)
Surviving song of the recent flop of Swingin 'the Dream, an ambitious show inspired by A Midsummer Night Dream that lasted on Broadway only 13 performances. With the participation of Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Maxine Sullivan and the Dandridge Sisters, the casting proved to be exceptional but the New York public did not follow. The idea of mixing jazz and Shakespearean characters was deemed too risky and those who already saw swing as a vector for racial integration were for their expenses.
05 – Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1905 – Greenwich (CT) 1956) feat. Frank Sinatra (Hoboken (NJ) 1915 – Los Angeles (CA) 1998) – Trade winds 3:04 (Charles Tobias, Cliff Friend)
06 – The Andrews Sisters (Formed in Minneapolis (MN) 1925) – Rhumboogie 2:39 (Don Raye, Hughie Prince)
This song is introduced in Argentine Nights. The three sisters demonstrate through their performances that they are also true professionnals of the show.
07 – Gene Krupa (Chicago (IL) 1909 – Yonkers (NY) 1973) feat. Irene Daye (Lawrence (MA) 1918 – Greenville (SC) 1971) – I’d know you anywhere 2:37 (Jimmy McHugh, Johnny Mercer )
08 – Tony Martin (Alvin Morris Oakland (CA) 1913) – Fools rush in 2:51 (Johnny Mercer, Rube Bloom)
09 – Maxine Sullivan (Marietta Williams – Homstead (PA) 1911 – New York (NY ) 1987) – The hour of parting 2:48 (Gus Kahn, Mischa Spoliansky)
Cover of a song introduced in 1931 by Victor Young and his orchestra.
Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey record their own version a few months later Maxine Sullivan.
10 – Fats Waller (New York (NY) 1904 – Kansas City (MO) 1943) – Tain’t nobody’s bizness if I do 3:00 (Clarence Williams, Percy Grainger, Robert Prince)
Song introduced by Bessie Smith in 1923
11 – The Ink Spots (Formed in New York (NY) 1934) – When the swallows come back in Capistrano 3:01 (Leon Rene)
The legend tells that the swallows returning in the spring to
nest under the eaves of Capistrano monastery, California,
went every year to spend the winter in Jerusalem from
where they brought back twigs on which they rested
at night when crossing the oceans .
12 – Alice Faye (New York (NY) 1915 – Rancho Mirage
(CA) 1998) – On moonlight bay 2:28 (Duke Ellington,
Song from the musical movie Tin Pan Alley directed by
Walter Lang starring Alice Faye and Betty Grable
13 Betty Grable, Million Dollar Legs
Betty Grable (St Louis (MO) 1916 – Los Angeles (CA) 1973)
Regarded as having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood (as it is said insured by Lloyd's for $ 1 million), she remained in history as the symbol of the pinup of World War II. Her mother pushed her early towards stage to the point that she she was 13-year-old when she had her first role among the Samuel Goldwyn dancers in Happy Days (1929).
Despite teen-aged career debut, she gets over the next years only minor roles. However, she completes in 1934 a promising performance in The Gay Divorcee alongside Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, singing especially Let's K-nock K-nees. She then shoots for Paramount in various B-movies including Million Dollar Legs (the nickname that will remain to her) alongside her first husband, the actor Jackie Coogan (made famous in The Kid, a silent movie directed by Charlie Chaplin released in 1921). Tired of having only supporting roles, Betty Grable thinks of renouncing the studios when she receives an interesting offer from Darryl F. Zanuck, the boss of the 20th Century Fox. She starts by replacing Alice Faye, suddenly fallen ill, in Down Argentine Way and shoots therefore in some quality feature movies
Betty Grable & Don Ameche - Down Argentine Way (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon)
14 The essential hits of 1940 (4)
01 - Charlie Barnet (New York (NY) 1913 – San Diego (CA) 1991) feat. Mary Ann McCall
(Philadelphia (PA) 1919 – Los Angeles (CA)1994) – Thank Your Stars (Abner Silver, Harold Adamson)
02 – Teddy Wilson (Austin (TX) 1912 – New Britain (CT) 1986) &
Eddy Howard (Woodland (CA) 1914 – Palm Desert (CA) 1963) – Stardust 2:50 (Hoagy Carmichael,
This sentimental ballad composed in 1927 has since been often covered.
03 – The Andrew Sisters (Formed in Minneapolis (MN) 1925) – Ferry boat serenade
(La Piccinina) 3:02 (Eldo Di Lazzaro, Mario Panzeri, Harold Adamson)
04 – The Three Peppers (Formed in 1937 – feat. Pianist Oliver “Toy” Wilson, guitarist Bob
Bell & bassist Walter Williams) – Was that all I meant to you 3:05 (Benny Davis, Peter De
Rose, Charles Tobias)
05 – Mildred Bailey (Glen Gray Knoblauch – Metamora (IL) 1900 – 1963) & The Casa Loma
Orchestra (Formed in Toronto (ONT) 1929) – From another world 2:47 (Lorenz Hart, Richard
06 – Glenn Miller (Clarinda (IA) 1904 - airplane crash above the Channel dec. 15, 1944) feat.
Marion Hutton (Marion Thornburg -Battle Creek (MI) 1919 – Kirkland (WA)1987) – Boog it
2:53 (Buck Ram, Cab Calloway, Jack Palmer)
07 – Jack Teagarden (Vernon (TX) 1905 – New Orleans (LA) 1964) feat. David Allyn – Now
I lay me down to dream of you 3:22 (Ted Fiorito , Eddy Howard)
08 – Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1905 – Greenwich (CT) 1956) feat. Frank Sinatra
(Hoboken (NJ) 1915 – Los Angeles (CA) 1998) – Love lies 3:20 (Carl Sigman, Joseph Meyer,
09 – Artie Shaw (Arthur Arshawsky – New Haven (CT) 1910 – Newbury Park (CA) 2004) feat. Pauline Byrne - Gloomy Sunday 2:57 (Laslo Javor, Rezsö Seress, Sam M. Lewis)
One of the first American versions of this Hungarian song composed in 1933 under the title End of the World. Considered the Hungarian suicide song, the lyrics are those of a woman who mourns the man she loved and wants to join him in the afterlife. Billie Holiday introduced it to her repertoire in 1941.
10 – Vaughn Monroe (Akron (OH) 1911 –Stuart (FL) 1973 ) – Here I go 2:52 (E.B. Wallace) . This graduate of the Carnegie Institute of Technology has preferred to give up a promising scientific career to devote himself to his passion: music. He has just formed his first band and recorded for RCA a series of songs in which he distinguished himself by a quickly recognizable baritone voice.
11 - Billie Holiday (Eleonora Fagan Gough - Baltimore (MD) 1915 - New York (NY) 1959) - I'm pulling through 3:05 (Arthur Herzog, Jr., Irene Kitchings)
12 – Josh White & His Carolinians (Greensboro (SC) 1914 – Manhasset (NY) 1969) – Told my cap’n 3:11 (Traditional)
After an early career devoted to blues, Josh White has finally agreed to cede his mother abandoning the music of the devil to become The Singing Christian. Despite years of effort, however, he fails to impose his style before appearing in John Henry, a production which despite a qualified success on Broadway will be the stepping stone that he expected.
Way (20th Century Fox)
Direction : David
Score: Harry Warren,
Actors: Don Ameche,
Carmen Miranda, Betty
In this romantic comedy
shot in Technicolor, Betty
Grable, whom it is here
the first leading role,
embodies a young "heir"
on vacation in Argentina
who falls in love with a
rich horse owner
As often during their
appearances, the Nicholas
Brothers play their own role in a dance routine mixing song (Down Argentine Way (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon) performed by Harold), humor and some figures whose they have the secret.
15 Tin Pan Alley
Director: Walter Lang
Distribution . 20th Century Fox
Music : Alfred Newman
Actors : Alice Faye (Katie Blane), Betty Grable (Lily Blane), Jack Payne (Francis « Skeets »
Harrigan), Jack Oakie (Harry Clahoun), Nora Bayes …. les Nicholas Brothers dans leur
The action takes place in New York during World War I telling the story of two songwriters of Tin Pan Alley, at once broke and out of success. Their meeting with the sisters Blane, two vaudeville performers help ensure their first hit, but problems return after the two actresses left on tour in London. Both accomplices eventually choose to go to Europe with the U.S. military contingent where they find the sisters to which they just have time to declare their love before being
sent to front.
As the United States insisted
to stay away from war,
the movie was the
beginning of a
for their next entry in
the conflict. However,
this is primarily a
highly successful musical
movie with moreover
and convincing dialogs.
Alice Faye and Betty
Grable, before shooting
deemed to dislike show instead
in the film an attractive
Their numbers do not lack
elegance or humor. Among the
many musical performances is presented in fact no new song except You're the Sweetest Thing, Baby (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon). Others are well rejuvenated covers of some popular hits such as On Moonlight Bay written in 1912, America I Love You (1915), KKK-Katie (1918), The Sheik of Araby (1921) or Honeysuckle Rose (1929).
Alice Faye and Bettty Grable had never had before the opportunity to perform together and the critic hastily concluded that they have aversion to the other. The Century Fox tried therefore a real challenge in making them play on the same stage the role of two sisters, fearing animosity and an electric atmosphere. Both actresses did in fact stop very quickly the gossips becoming without waiting the best friends of the world.
16 The Nicholas Brothers, inventors of flash dancing
Fayard Nicholas (Mobile (AL) 1914 – Los Angeles (CA) 2006) et Harold Nicholas (Winston-Salem
(NC) 1921 – New York City, 2000)
Children of musicians, they began dancing at an early age on the vaudeville stage of Philadelphia where,
through their technical skills and showmanship, they attracted very quickly a wide audience.
Combining tap to completely new acrobatics (what is called flash dancing), they have become over the
years the undisputed stars of Cotton Club alongside Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. They perform
in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 and then on Broadway in Babes in Arms before leaving for a tour in
England during which they will have the opportunity to learn choreographic ballet techniques. They also
shoot during the 30s in several movies but their career really took off in Hollywood with Down
Argentine Way and Tin Pan Alley both released in 1940.
Generally considered as the greatest tap dancers of their time, the Nicholas Brothers afterward taught
at the University of Harvard and at the Radcliffe College where they counted among their students some
future stars as Janet and Michael Jackson.
People already rushed to Cotton Club to applaud their fantastic dance numbers when they came in 1938 to compete with the Berry Brothers, a trio of equally spectacular acrobatic dance. The competition between the two groups turned out wild, each trying to go deeper into the difficulty and technical virtuosity. However, the Nicholas brothers had the last word..
18 Chicago blues gets foothold
After several years of trial and error, blues seems to have finally found its identity among the various musical trends of the time while remaining in relative marginality. Paths of loneliness in which were engaged the first bluesmen were gradually erased in favor of a more
dynamic music group, both more refined and
aesthetic, and also more commercial.
The vocal expression certainly lost melancholy and
gloomy character of the complaint which rose from the
Delta plain but it works the other hand more
and more in harmony with the tempo or
instrumental playing, seeking primarily to
seduce its audience. The rural southern legacy
moved to the north where it is
enriched with another culture,
giving rise to a composite but
consistent style that will be called
at the right moment the Chicago Blues.
The community of bluesmen of Illinois
managed to extricate itself
from the ghetto in which
evolved musicians from the South and
create a sound both live and accessible which had the effect of attracting white audiences. Except the case of Robert Johnson died prematurely, it has been for ten years a generation of musicians who printed its trademark. Some knew a few success but were not lucky enough to live exclusively from their music. Low-paying, blues ultimately did not without reason been likened to the devil's music. Evolving indeed in a world dominated by alcohol, drugs or prostitution, those who are trying needed to have enough temperament not to follow the paths that have led to nothing.
Since the late 20s, the road to success was going to Chicago through Big Bill Broonzy, an effective bluesman who could use his connections to showcase new talent from his native Mississippi. In 1940, the young Lil' Green who, after a few years in his circle of influence appears to the general public with A Dark Romance, a song of her own composition to which it subscribes immediately. It is also a protégé of Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim who, with his piano, saw his name appear on the displays of the hottest nightclubs in Chicago. For his part, John Lee Williamson breaks the habit combining his harmonica with a strong rhythmic base. Blind Willie McTell, regular since his early years to his native Georgia also brings the blues on new ground by giving to the "Piedmont touch" of which he is one of the most significant representatives a previously unknown intensity. Purists of course will be hard pushed to quit work but they will have to back down because if Bukka White still insists on preserving the soul of Delta blues, even Sleepy John Estes goes to washboard to give a fresh boost to his tunes. Not long ago regarded as a closed-door music, Blues gets from now a new life.
17 Little Nellie Kelly (MGM)
Director : Norman Taurog
Producer : Arthur Freed
Screenplay : George McGowan
based on the play that he had
introduced on Broadway in 1922
Music : Roger Edens,
Actors : Judy Garland, George
Judy Garland is such a bonanza
for Metro Goldwyn Mayer that it
insists to have her in most of its
musical movies. The young
actress lends herself with
readiness if not appetite to the
roles entrusted to her, succeeding
with same ability to adapt to all kinds. The public is fond of those tunes that mix with the same ardor swing and military parade. In this way, the fact of looking away makes it up for the ambiguous behavior of its country facing the war raging around the world. Is there actually only naivety in all the smiles or is it not rather a deceptive effect? For European spectators who will have the opportunity to see the musicals of the time only after the war, they mostly keep the bitter taste of a gap between two worlds, the one real, tragic and ruthless and that of an American dream suddenly become autistic.
The movie takes place at two different times for heroin Judy Garland who has, one after the oter the role, of the two Nellie Kelly, mother and daughter. The script which tells the eventful story of an Irish family having moved to New York, fluctuates back and forth between the register of comedy and melodrama according to the unavoidable incidents which come anyway to a "happy end . " Seemingly lacking originality, the movie nevertheless contains a real gem considering how Judy Garland performs " Singing in the rain ", one of the most famous songs from the big screen. Immortalized by Gene Kelly in 1952 at the point that one would be tempted to think that he was the creator, it was yet to Judy Garland an adaptation because originally written in 1929 by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. The song had also, at that time, be subjected to several covers including those of Cliff Edwards, the Brox Sisters and Annette Hanshaw.
Anyway, Judy Garland gives it up to date, at the instigation of his creator Arthur Freed himself involved in the feature film, by adding a bouncy swing rhythm, full of freshness and enthusiasm.
Dance at the "Juke Joint"
Such makeshift bar frequented only by African-Americans was also the place to to make music, dance, and meet, why not, a soul mate for one night. The Juke Joint, however, had a bad reputation. Often filthy, slummy, and disputable hygiene, it was, however, the place where became known many bluesmen. Present in the southern states, this kind of rural gathering place found its counterpart among white people with the Honky Tonks.
19 The essential "blues" of the year
01 - Johny Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson (Jackson (TN) 1914 – Chicago (IL) 1948) –
Welfare store blues (Williamson)
02 – Blind Boy Fuller (Fulton Allen – Wadesboro (NC) 1907 – Durham (NC) 1941) –
Step it up and go (Fulton Allen)
03 - Lil Green (Lilian Green - Clarksdale (MS) 1919 – Chicago (IL) 1954) – Romance in the dark (Green)
04 - Memphis Slim (John Len Chatman – Memphis (TN) 1915 – Paris (France) 1988) – You didn’t mean me no good (Chatman)
05 - Big Bill Broonzy (Lee Conlay Bradley – Lake DFick (AR) 1903 – Chicago (IL) 1958) – I’ve got to dig you (Broonzy)
06 - Memphis Minnie (Lizzie Douglas – Algiers (LA) 1902 – Memphis (TN) 1973) – Nothing in rambling (Douglas, McCoy)
07 - Blind Wille McTell (Thomson (GA) 1901 – Almon (GA) 1959 – Dying Crapshooter’s blues (McTell) -
08 - Sleepy John Estes (Nutbush (TN) 1899 – Brownsville (TN) 1977) – Tell me how about it
09 – Lonnie Johnson (New Orleans (LA) 1899 6 Toronto (Ontario) 1970) – Don’t be no fool (Johnson)
10 – Bukka White (Booker T. Washington White – Houston (MS) 1906 – Memphis (TN) 1977) – Stream Line Special (White)
11 – Jazz Gillum (William McKinley Gillum – Indianola (MS) 1904 – Chicago (IL) 1966) – Key to the highway (Gillum)
12 – Washboard Sam (Robert Brown – Walnut Ridge (AR) 1910 – Chicago (IL ) 1966) – I’m going to St Louis (Brown)
According to Robert Johnson, it was at the crossing of roads 49 and 61, a few miles from Clarksdale that he had one night sold his soul to the Devil to become a musical genius.
The essential hits of 1940 (5)
01 – Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra feat. Frank Sinatra – All this, and Heaven Too (Eddie DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen)
This song from the movie of the same name starring Bette Davis and Charles Boyer was also covered by Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet.
02 – Ella Fitzgerald - Imagination (Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Burke)
A very pleasant cover of Frank Sinatra' first hit.
03 - Dinah Shore – The Nearness Of You (Hoagy Carmichael, Ned Washington)
Accompanied by Paul Weston and his orchestra, Dinah Shore brightly performs this song written for the movie Romance In the Dark released in 1938. Glenn Miller had shortly before made a hit of it with his new vocalist Ray Eberle.
04 – The Mills Brothers – Java Jive (Milton Drake, Ben Oakland)
On of the son which contributed to the birth of doo-wop.
05 – The Andrews Sisters – Tuxedo Junction (Erskine Hawkins, Bill Johnson, Julian Dash, Buddy Feine)
Introduced by Erskine Hawkins, this song appears among the Glenn Miller's major hits but let us not forget some remarkable covers like those of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and here the Andrews Sisters.
06 - The Nat King Cole Trio – Sweet Lorraine (Cliff Burwell, Mitchell Parish)
Written in 1928, this song already belonged to the repertoire of Rudy Vallee and Teddy Wilson when it was covered by Nat King Cole. His piano playing et the magic of his voice made since of it a jazz standard.
07 – Artie Shaw & His Orchestra feat. Pauline Byrne ((MO) 1917 – Los Angeles (CA) 1990) – Gloomy Sunday (Rezso Seress, Laszlo Javor, Sam M. Lewis)
This Hungarian song written at the time of the Great Depression deals with injustices that affect the society and foreshadows the dark days ahead.
08 – Una Mae Carlisle (Xenia (OH) 1915 – New York City 1956) – Don’ try your jive on me (Leonard Feather, Edgar Sampson)
Song introduced by Fats Waller in 1938
09 – Benny Carter (Bennett Lester Carter – Harlem (New York) 1907 – Los Angeles (CA) 2003) & His Orchestra feat. Roy Felton – I’ve been in love before (Frank Loesser, Frederick Hollander)
Song introduced by Marlène Dietrich in the movie Seven Sinners
10 – Bob Crosby & His Orchestra feat. Marion Mann (Marion Bateson - Columbus (OH) 1914) - Fools rush in (Where angels fear to tread) (Johnny Mercer, Rube Bloom)
Marion Mann was the regular vocalist of Bob Crosby before being obliged to reassess her career following a grave car accident.
11 – Louis Jordan (Brinkley (AR) 1908 – Los Angeles (CA) 1975) – Somebody done hoodoed the hoodoo man (Jordan)
12 – Benny Goodman & His Orchestra feat. Helen Forrest – Shake Down the Stars (Eddie Delange- Jimmy Van Heusen)
A good performance of one of the major hits of the year.
Una Mae Carlisle
Beautiful and talented
Una Mae Carlisle (Xenia (OH) 1915 – New York City 1956)
A child prodigy, this is probably because her piano playing reminded him that Fats Waller became interested in her when, at 13, she was already performing live on radio in Cincinnati. Her first success gave her the illusion of success and she found to be hired at the Cotton Club but remained only a short time, aware that this world was not her age. She then resumed her piano studies and attended the University of Ohio while copying scores for Irving Mills. It was finally the producer Lew Lewis who gave her a first real chance by taking her on for an extensive tour in Europe. She played especially in London and Paris and thus had the opportunity to attend the best European artists. Her boogie-woogie style and consensual way to accommodate the most bitter blues earned her to be one of the most popular stars of the trendy public to the old continent. She was invited to film and counted the Duke of Kent among her most ardent admirers. Back in the United States because of the war, she found studios in November 1939 along with Fats Waller.
The Nat King Cole Trio, the magic touch
Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Coles - Montgomery (AL) 1919 (1917?)– Santa Monica (CA) 1965)
He was only 4 years old when his family left Alabama for Chicago where his father is expected to become a Baptist minister. His mother who played the organ in the parish church gave him music lessons and introduced him to piano for which he showed such provisions that once controlled gospel and jazz, he began to study of classical music, from Bach to Rachmaninov.
He goes sometimes to the clubs in order to listen to artists such as Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines especially by whom he will be inspired in his first performances. He recorded his first album in 1936 for Decca with his brother Eddie on bass and his musicians. His career began to take shape and he was hired as pianist for the national tour of the Broadway black revue "Shuffle Along." It ends in Long Beach, where he decided to stay. He married in 1937 the dancer Nadine Robinson that he met during the tour and together with
guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince, he forms a trio who took the name King Cole Swingsters. The "combo" acquired some popularity thanks to its many radio broadcasts and wasted no time to move to Los Angles. Despite the lack of drums, Nat King Cole and his musicians are already noted for a very personal style, combining elegance with the piano to the unexpected sound of the electric guitar. It is not without some reluctance, however, he agrees to sing, far from imagining that it is thanks to his voice that the trio until there instrumental will become famous. After accompanying Lionel Hampton during his visit in the studio in 1940, he records his second album for Decca including "Sweet Lorraine", the adaptation of a song written in 1928 that will remain the flagship track of the group.
Oscar Moore Nat King Cole
42nd-street.fr - Gerard Tondu
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