Art Tatum — If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight

Thanks to gullivior again for the You Tube

Art Tatum recorded this in 1943. As usual, he makes it sound so easy. Ha. Ha.  Art Tatum’s main musical influence was Fats Waller and Fats Waller’s main musical influence was James P. Johnson, and when the prodigal son arrived in Harlem to show what he could do, he “whupped them all.”  But it was all in fun.  Tatum’s version of If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight is dazzling.

Now, how did my obsession with this song begin?

Thanks to moazam javid

I am including this movie clip because it’s where I first heard this song. I was 7 years old. It was the first color movie I remember seeing and it had quite an impact on me in numerous ways. It is an outtake from the movie Mister Roberts (1955) starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon. Jack Lemmon as Ensign Pulver sang and whistled bits of If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight throughout the movie as a nervous habit. It was not an auspicious beginning for the song for me, but curiously, it stuck with me until much later in life when I rediscovered it in a collection of James P. Johnson recordings.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a few samples from 3 decades of this song.


About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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