Enduring American Popular Song Hits,
Part 2, page 2
Must Be Heaven, For My Mother Came From There
Music by: Fred Fischer
Lyrics by: Joe McCarthy, Howard Johnson
Cover artist: "Rose Symbol"
Irish songs and songs about Ireland have always been an important part
of American popular music (we will be featuring Irish songs next month,
March, 2002) and many of them have reached hit status and many have become
enduring hits. This song struck a chord with the Irish American crowd
and the general population as well as it sold millions of copies on its
debut in 1916. Interestingly, the composer was from Germany and neither
McCarthy nor Johnson were from Ireland. This demonstrates the incredible
versatility of many of the songwriters of the period, especially Fischer.
He was able to write in almost any vernacular and was able to quickly
incorporate any musical style or theme into his own repertoire and write
a hit song based on popular trends.
Fred Fischer (1875 - 1942) was born in Cologne,
Germany of American parents. Fisher ran away from home at age 13 and enlisted
in the German Navy and later, the French Foreign Legion before coming
to the US in 1900. He began composing in 1904 and also wrote the words
to many of this songs. His first hit was If The Man In The Moon Were
A Coon (1905). In 1907, he started his own publishing company with
the lyricist of this song (Norway) as a partner for a short time. In the
20's Fisher mover to Hollywood and wrote music for silent movies and early
sound musicals. Though early in his career he made his name through ethnic
songs, later he made something out of geographic topics such as Norway,
Siam (1915)and Chicago (1922). Fisher's music endured well
into the forties and one of his songs, Peg O'My Heart (1913) has
become a continuing classic. Fischer wrote it after seeing Laurette Taylor
in the Broadway play of the same name (Peg O' My Heart) and he dedicated
it to Taylor. Though a very successful song when published in 1913, it
was even more successful when it was recorded in 1947 by the Harmonicats
and also by Peggy Lee. Known as a contentious, eccentric and excitable
person, one of his songs was involved in copyright litigation that continued
from 1919 to the 1960's, more than 20 years after his death in NY in 1942.
His music is best known for his musical comedic gifts and his ability
to make quirky rhythms to highlight creative lyrics.
Music by: George W. Meyer
Lyrics by: Edgar Leslie, E. Ray Goetz
Cover artist: Barbelle
Though by 1917 America and the world were consumed by the World War and
songs about the war abounded for the next three years (see our special
three part series on songs
of W.W.I ), American music still was producing the kind of songs that
made American popular music so wonderful. Songs about love, life and the
pursuit of happiness. One of the greatest is For Me And My Gal.
First recorded by the popular vaudeville team of Van and Schenck, the
song was an immediate smash hit. Other performers jumped on the bandwagon,
including the great Fanny Brice, shown in the cover photo on our copy.
Besides Brice, the performers who sang this song on vaudeville were Eddie
Cantor, George Jessel, Sophie Tucker, Belle Baker and Al Jolson; quite
a cast! A huge sheet music seller in 1917, it became an even bigger hit
after Gene Kelley and Judy Garland sang it in the 1942 film, For Me And
My Gal,. In 1943, the song was on Your Hit Parade for seven weeks.
George W. Meyer (b. 1884 Boston, Mass.- d. 1959 New York, NY)
was one of the more prolific composers of the period with many, many hits
to his credit that spanned many years. Meyer's biggest hit was probably
For Me and My Gal in 1917 but he also wrote many favorites that
have lasted such as; My Song Of The Nile, Lonesome, My Mother's Rosary
and the great novelty song Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday
on Saturday Night?
Music by: Turner Layton
Lyrics by: Harry Creamer
Cover artist: unknown
Featured by two of the greatest singers ever heard, Al Jolson and Sophie
Tucker, this song is one of the greatest of the enduring hits of the twentieth
century. Though not seemingly in his style, it was the first song recorded
by Benny Goodman and was later featured by his quartet in the 1946 film,
Make Mine Music. In 1942 For Me And My Gal, starring
Judy Garland also featured the song. Jolson sang it in Jolson Sings
Again in 1949, Louis Armstrong performed it in The Five Pennies
(1959) and it was sung by Leland Palmer in the Fosse film, All That
Jazz in 1979. A sultry ballad, it is timeless in its melodic style
and lyrical construct. This is the kind of song that could have been written
yesterday rather than almost a century ago.
John Turner Layton was born in 1894 in Washington DC. One of the
few successful Black composers of the period, he was teamed with the lyricist
of After You've Gone, Harry Creamer in a vaudeville act. Both Creamer
and Layton left the United States (due largely to constraints on them
due to race) and settled in England where both enjoyed very successful
careers. With Creamer he also wrote another enduring hit, Way Down
Yonder In New Orleans in 1922 and Dear Old Southland in
1921. Layton died in 1978.
Music by: Harry Carroll
Lyrics by: Joseph McCarthy
Cover artist: DeTakacs
Knute Rockne was appointed the head coach of the University of Notre
Dame in 1918 and the musical comedy "Oh Look! opened at the La Salle
Theater in Chicago. Not only was Rockne a winner but at least one of the
songs from that production proved to be an enduring hit; I'm Always Chasing
Rainbows. A lovely and sentimental ballad introduced by Harry Fox, this
song is one of the greatest American songs ever written. Perhaps lesser
known to most casual listeners is the fact that the composer took the
melody from Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu
in C Sharp minor (midi 4:50). Take the time to listen to the Chopin
work, it is absolutely beautiful. Both the Chopin work and this song show
a lot of emotion and the words are a beautiful addition to one of the
worlds most beautiful classical melodies. This song has been used in many
films over the years including one in 1945 about the Dolly Sisters who
appeared in the first production of Oh Look! Of course, like just
about every great hit from this period it was sung by Judy Garland in
1941. It was revived by Perry Como in 1946. Originally the song sold over
a million copies in 1918.
Harry Carroll was born born Nov. 28, 1892, Atlantic City, New
Jersey and died 1962, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. Self taught, Harry was
playing piano in movie houses even while he was still in grade school.
He graduated high school and went to New York City, where, during the
day, he found work as an arranger in Tin Pan Alley, and, during the night,
playing in the Garden Cafe on 7th Avenue and 50th Street. In 1912, the
Schuberts hired him to supply songs for some of their shows. He collaborated
with Arthur Fields on his first hit On the Mississippi, with
lyrics by Ballard MacDonald (for the show The Whirl of Society). Among
Carroll and MacDonald's best known compositions, are 1913's There's
a Girl in the Heart of Maryland (midi), and The
Trail of the Lonesome Pine (midi), and It Takes a Little
Rain With the Sunshine to Make the World Go Round.
In 1914, he wrote By the Beautiful Sea, with lyric by Harold
Atteridge. In 1918, Carroll produced his own Broadway musical Oh,
Look!, and the classic I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, was
written with the lyric by Joseph McCarthy. Harry married Anna
Wheaton, and the two starred in vaudeville for many years. After the decline
of vaudeville, Harry was a 'single' act in various cafes, where he sang
his own songs. From 1914 through 1917, Harry was the director of ASCAP.
Carroll is a Songwriters' Hall of Fame member.
Music by: Bob Carleton
Lyrics by: Carleton
Cover artist: Photo, DeHaven, Chicago
Another lasting hit from 1918 was one written by a Naval Reservist who
donated all of the proceeds from the song to benefit the Naval Relief
Society. A generous act, it is possible that Carleton gave away his greatest
song, JA-DA for precious few other songs by him are remembered today.
JA-DA became a famous novelty song and of course can still be heard today,
most often in a Jazz setting. The sparkling melody and infectious rhythm
lends itself well to improvisation and it is probably for that reason
the song has endured. As a bonus, I'm including a midi
improvisation on JA-DA for your entertainment. Certainly
the lyrics are not particularly great. As with many of the lasting hits,
this one was also featured in some movies including Babes In Arms (1939),
Rose Of Washington Square (1939) and The Great American Broadcast in 1941.
The song was introduced by Beatrice Lillie in the stage musical Bran
Pie and was popularized by Arthur Fields.
Bob Carleton (1896 - 1956) did publish at least three other songs
during his career, Struttin' Jim in 1923, Teasin' in
1922 which enjoyed a popularity similar to JA-DA as a jazz work
and was regularly played and recorded by a number of bands of the jazz
age, and a late life hit, Where The Blues Were Born In New Orleans
in 1947. The latter was introduced by Louis Armstrong and his band in
the film New Orleans and also on record. Phil Harris also featured a version
on record and radio. I've been unable to find much more on Carleton.
Music by: Jerome Kern
Lyrics by: Edward Royce
Cover artist: unknown
By 1920, the world was changing, the Jazz Age was coming, the political
landscape was changing and the innocence of the early decades was ending.
Traditional values were challenged and music too was changing but what
makes an enduring hit was the same as always. Once again, Jerome Kern
hit the jackpot with a winning song that has been with us now for 82 years.
Interestingly, I've heard the song many times but never heard the verses
and noticed the dish washing scene that went with it. Taken from the Ziegfeld
production of Sally, the song was introduced by Leon Errol and
Marilyn Miller (shown on the cover). The show premiered in December of
1920 and was a huge hit the following year. Marilyn Miller returned to
perform the song in he 1929 film version of Sally with Alexander
Grey. And, guess who, Judy Garland sang it in the Kern film biography
Till The Clouds Roll By in 1946. Miller's film biography, Look
For The Silver Lining featured the song sung by June Haver and Gordon
MacRae in 1949.
The years from 1910 - 1920 produced many other hits that have endured.
Many of them we have previously published here at parlorsongs. See our
catalog for a complete listing of the over 700 songs thus far published
at ParlorSongs.com. Visit us for the largest selection of all "cover
& midi" sites on the net. We were the first, and are the best.
Be sure to come back next month for our look at Irish songs and songs
That's it for this month's feature, as always, we hope you have enjoyed the
music and learned something from it. Next month we will revisit Irish songs
for our Irish friends who celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
See our resources page
for a complete bibliography of publications used to research this and our
other features and articles.
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