Cliff Edwards left home and school in his early teens and began traveling the country singing in saloons. He took up playing the ukulele to accompany himself because it was the cheapest instrument in the music stores. It took time but he eventually became a vaudeville hit. He began recording in 1919 and made hit records. According to a historian of the ukulele, Cliff Edwards was largely responsible for the popularity of the instrument in the 1920‘s.
As with most popular entertainers, he had his rise and fall. He had failed marriages and bankruptcies. He became an alcoholic and drug addict. In 1940, he was given a break as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney production of Pinocchio, after which Walt Disney became his personal benefactor. Disney paid his medical bills, arranged his funeral, and paid for his cemetery marker.
Cliff Edwards performance of I’ll See You In My Dreams is noteworthy nowadays because Joe Brown from Liverpool, England did a very close copy of the Cliff Edwards version at the Beatle George Harrison’s funeral and on his record or cd. I take it as a tribute to a very talented man.
Spike Jones plays his special version of Laura. What could be more appropriate for April Fool’s Day, April 1st? Presented in loving memory of my cousin Walter. It’s very important that I play this record on the right date. Last year, I played it on April 30th. Also, you get a break from Isham Jones and Gus Kahn.
Thanks to BassetHoundTrio for the You Tube. Thanks to Jim Hollowaty for whom this record has a special meaning. Here is the one and only Spike Jones. Happy April 1st.
Fletcher Henderson (dir, p): Elmer Chambers, Howard Scott (cnt, tp); Louis Armstrong (cnt); Charlie Green (tb); Buster Bailey (cl, ss, as); Don Redman (as, cl, arr); Coleman Hawkins (ts, cl); Charlie Dixon (bj); Raphael Escodero (tuba); Kaiser Marshall (dm) Recorded: New York, New York 12/1/25. I’m pretty sure that is Louis Armstrong soloing on cornet, although I thought he had switched to trumpet before he joined the Henderson band. The sax solo sounds too bass to be a tenor sax. Coleman Hawkins also played a bass sax, which it might have been, but I guess he must have been playing in the upper register. This is a great early jazz version of the song by one of the most talented band leaders and music arrangers of the era. Fletcher Henderson was ten steps ahead of almost everyone else.
The poster Terencenunn35 did a great job of matching the old Ray Noble record as an ironic commentary on this older silent gag of Charlie Chaplin and the old Murphy Bed. The idea of the Murphy Bed was for those apartments cramped for space a way of storing the bed out of the way in the closet during the day. I was astounded to discover that Murphy beds are still available for sale, although the patent has run out and the inventor William L. Murphy died in 1957. The actual Murphy Bed was designed to prevent this sort of comedy but that would make for a lousy comedy movie. For more on the Murphy Bed, see here.
Charlie Chaplin was of course the great silent movie comedian. My father as a child was a great fan of Chaplin, especially of the movie The Gold Rush (1925). This clip of Chaplin’s struggle with the Murphy Bed is from the movie One A.M.(1918).
The song ,Goodnight Sweetheart (1931) was written in England by Ray Noble, Jimmy Campbell, and Reg Connelly. It was the Ray Noble orchestra with vocal by Al Bowlly.
Today is my Mother’s birthday. She would have been 111 years old(1908-1996). I came along late in her life. She was born premature on the south shore of Pelican Lake in Orr, Minnesota in the neighbor’s kitchen. Mrs. Takala showed me back in 1976 her very ornate wood stove which served as my mother’s incubator. She put my mother in a bread pan and placed her on the open oven door to keep her warm. The Swedish and Finnish immigrant homesteaders had to band together against the common enemy in the North Country: cold, cold weather. Last month, it was -50 degrees F and the coldest month in the North Country in many years.
I Remember You was written (music) by Victor Schertzinger and (lyrics) by Johnny Mercer in 1941. It was originally written for the movie The Fleet’s In starring among others Dorothy Lamour and bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. It was for release that same year. Jimmy Dorsey also released a phonograph record by his band December 1941, featuring a vocal by Bob Eberly.
My mother had many favorite singers from the “Swingin’ Years,” but in later years her favorite was Nat King Cole. R.I.P.
One year after the original Isham Jones recording, Red Nichols and his Arkansas Travelers, released their hot jazz instrumental version of I’ll See You In My Dreams. The band personnel: Red Nichols, Vic d’Ippolito, t / Miff Mole or Mike Durso, tb / Dick Johnson, Alfie Evans, cl, as / Morris Dixon, cl, ts / ? Arthur Schutt, p / Tony Colucci, bj / Bill Short, bb / Irving Farberman, d. New York, January 10, 1925. I believe this is the first jazz instrumental version, although in Isham Jones’s original version, he ends the record with some jazz riffs. Paul Whiteman did an instrumental “foxtrot” version in 1924 but the available copies have very poor sound quality by comparison. If I come across some better copies, I’ll post them later. Notice that Red Nichols has the bands of many different names.
Atticus Jazz the poster of the You Tube has a great period photo collection. Here we see the silent movie era star Louise Brooks who played the character Lulu. Note, there is a picture of her dancing with a very young John Wayne. For more on Louise Brooks:
Marion Harris’s version of I’ll See You In My Dreams made number 4 in record sales in 1925. She was a very early recording artist having started with Victor records in 1916. According to Wikipedia, “She was the first widely known white singer to sing jazz and blues songs.” Although, she doesn’t sing dialect in this song. This is a great vocal but marred by the surface noise. Of course, that noise is what you would expect from an early and much loved and much played 78 record. For more:
Heartaches was written in 1931 music by Al Hoffman lyrics by John Klenner. Many versions of it were recorded but it wasn’t a hit until the Ted Weems-Elmo Tanner version below.
Patsy Cline had made the rough climb to stardom that so often was the story in Country Music. It was the second to the last song she recorded. I think the idea they had in mind when they made the record was as a cross over record and not strictly Country Western. I remember it most likely because it was still on the radio playlists when she was killed in a plane crash. Patsy Cline, like so many people who end up this way, was in a rush to get back to Nashville, Tennessee. The weather conditions were bad, visibility was bad. Unfortunately, the pilot was trained and rated for visual flight rules only and not for instrument flight rules. The plane nose dived into the ground and all on board were killed instantly in March 1963. I remember hearing that news on the radio that morning. For more, see here:
Thanks to Fost0989
The Al Bowlly on vocals with Sid Phillips and his Melodians versions recorded in late August, 1931. The Al Bowlly version was one of the early recordings, perhaps the earliest in the British Isles. This record was made before Bowlly joined Ray Noble in the U.S. Al Bowlly also had a bad luck story and an early death which is described here:
Thanks to the TheLimePopsicle for the You Tube
This version by the Ted Weems orchestra (whistling by Elmo Tanner) was originally recorded in 1938 but somehow wasn’t released or didn’t catch on. It did become a hit record when in 1947 a late night DJ in the Southeastern United States was running out of records to play and found it in a stack of old records. He played it and the audience went crazy. They called in and wanted him to play it again….and again and wanted to know where they could buy the record. Soon it caught on around the country and Decca pressed and released their version from 1938 and RCA pressed their version from 1933. It became a hit all over the country. Funny things happen in the record business.
Ted Weems thought the song was too slow so he added a faster tempo. He added a rumba rhythm, bongos, and conga drums to give the song a Latin flavor. He also didn’t think the lyric was very good so he had Elmo Tanner whistle the melody rather than sing the lyric.
I also hear someone playing “the spoons” on this record. That involves a couple of ordinary tablespoons used between the fingers like castanets. The bartender at Andelines Tavern and Truck Stop in Britt, Minnesota tried to teach me to play the spoons when I was four years old but my hands were too small. What a memory. I need to make a special mention of Chuck Cecil’s Swingin Years for reminding me of this version of the song. Chuck Cecil played Top Ten records for all of the Swingin’ Years including this one from 1947.
This is the original recording of the song in 1924 with Isham Jones conducting the Ray Miller Orchestra and Frank Bessenger on vocal. Isham is pronounced “Eyeshum.” He had teamed up with Gus Kahn who wrote the lyric and who also wrote the lyric for their other big hit, “It Had To Be You.” By the time this was recorded, Isham Jones was an established band leader as well as a music composer. His first band began touring in 1911. An interesting note on his musicians was his tuba player. He was a full blooded Sioux Nation member named Chief Red Cloud ( who also was called John Kuhn.) Red Cloud had previously played with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the John Phillip Sousa Marine Corps Band. He joined Isham Jones band in 1920. Isham Jones’s Orchestras also included such future leaders and composers as Gordon Jenkins, Claude Thornhill. For more, click on the link.
I wrote earlier that I would give Art Tatum a rest. But I read on the KTLA news site that Andre Previn has passed away. The Previn family fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and settled in Los Angeles. He was a musical prodigy and did musical orchestrations for the movies. He won four Oscars including one for the 1964 movie My Fair Lady. Later in the 1960‘s, he became a symphony orchestra conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the London Royal Philharmonic.
According the KTLA, he became interested in Jazz after hearing Art Tatum’s recording of Sweet Lorraine. There will never be another Art Tatum. And there will never be another Andre Previn.