MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, [a show of vocal jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook], I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
Last year on the show, I spent one episode turning back the clock a century to explore the songs from 1921. And this week, I thought I would do that yet again, exploring the songs of 1922. The Great American Songbook was still in its infancy 100 years ago, songwriters like Richard Rodgers and Harold Arlen had yet to write a hit song. But many of the songs that were hits in 1922 continued to resonate over the decades, and we’ll explore some of those songs, including “Chicago,” “Lovesick Blues,” and “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise.”
It’s The Songs Of 1922, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, “T’AIN’T NOBODY’S BIZNESS IF I DO”
Ella Fitzgerald (featuring pianist Tommy Flanagan) live at Montreux Jazz Festival in 1975 performing an excellent version of the blues standard “T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do,” written by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins in 1922.
MUSIC CLIP - PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA, “I’LL BUILD A STAIRWAY TO PARADISE”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, we’re exploring the songs from the American Songbook that were written 100 years ago, in 1922.
I’ll be honest—1922 may not be the most memorable year in popular music. Looking back 100 years is a fun exercise, but many of the best known songs from this year are still barely known songs in the American songbook today. There are no big hits from Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, or Jerome Kern, songwriters who were very active in other surrounding years. I’m not entirely sure why, either.
Moreover, some of the more popular songs from 1922 explore topics that are considered to be politically incorrect today. I mean, that’s true for a lot of years, not necessarily 1922 in particular. But songs like “China Boy,” and “Limehouse Blues” don’t quite sit well— a heads up about which songs I might ignore.
Let’s start with some familiar songwriters. Many of the most well-known songwriters of the American Songbook were still not composing really at all in 1922, names like Richard Rodgers and Harold Arlen. Others were active, like Cole Porter and Jerome Kern, but they were not writing songs that we know at all today. Let’s turn instead to George Gershwin, a songwriter who wrote songs in 1922 that did enter the songbook.
In fact, the song you’re hearing right now is a Gershwin from 1922 performed in 1922 by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. Gershwin wrote this song with his brother Ira Gershwin and lyricist Buddy DeSylva for the annual musical revue called George White’s Scandals, a popular showcase of song and dance that was similar to the Ziegfeld Follies.
Here’s a version from about 36 years later. This is Sarah Vaughan with Gershwin’s “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - SARAH VAUGHAN, “STAIRWAY TO PARADISE”
MUSIC - JUNE CHRISTY, “DO IT AGAIN”
Two songs by George Gershwin written in 1922. Just now, we heard June Christy and arranger Shorty Rogers in 1950 with the song “Do It Again,” written with lyricist Buddy DeSylva for the 1922 musical The French Doll. Before that, we heard Sarah Vaughan in 1958 from her Gershwin songbook album with “Stairway To Paradise,” a song George wrote again with Buddy DeSylva along with his brother Ira for the revue George White’s Scandals, also from 1922.
Let’s look at the year 1922 for composer Irving Berlin, now. Berlin became famous back in 1911, so by 1922, he was already well established and in the process of diversifying his brand. He started his own publishing company in 1919, and in the early 1920s, moved into the world of theater management. He helped open the Music Box Theater on Broadway (which still exists today), and was busy writing the music for the annual show called Music Box Revue in the first half of the twenties, a showcase for his songs, and for the theater in general.
Let’s hear a song written for the 1922 version of the Music Box Revue. Here is Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb sixteen years later in 1938 with the Irving Berlin song “Pack Up Your Sins and Go To The Devil,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, “PACK UP YOUR SINS AND GO TO THE DEVIL”
MUSIC - BING CROSBY, “SOME SUNNY DAY”
Two songs written by Irving Berlin 100 years ago in the year 1922. That was Bing Crosby and Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band with “Some Sunny Day,” a track off of the 1957 album Bing With A Beat. Before that we heard Ella Fitzgerald and drummer Chick Webb in 1938 with “Pack Up Your Sins And Go To The Devil.”
Another active songwriting team in the year 1922 was Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn. The pair actually worked for Irving Berlin’s publishing company for much of the 1920s, and wrote a few of the biggest hits of the year (although they were published by a different publishing company). Let’s hear some later versions of two of their 1922 hit songs.
We’ll start with a version from 1956. This is Chet Baker with the Donaldson and Kahn tune “My Buddy,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CHET BAKER, “MY BUDDY”
MUSIC - JUDY GARLAND, “CAROLINA IN THE MORNING”
Judy Garland from her 1955 album Miss Show Business with the tune “Carolina In The Morning.” Before that, we heard Chet Baker in 1956 with the song “My Buddy.” Both of those songs were published in the year 1922 by songwriters Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn.
In 1922, some of the best jazz in the country was happening in Chicago. It was the year Louis Armstrong followed his mentor King Oliver there, helping to turn that city into the epicenter of hot jazz. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest songs of the year celebrates that toddlin’ town.
Let’s hear it now. This is Frank Sinatra, 35 years later in 1957, with the Fred Fischer song “Chicago,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, “CHICAGO”
Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra in 1957 with the song “Chicago,” recorded for the film The Joker Is Wild. That song was written by songwriter Fred Fischer in the year 1922
MUSIC CLIP - HARRY JAMES & THE RHYTHM SECTION, “LIMEHOUSE BLUES”
We’ll have more songs from 1922 in just a bit, as we continue turning back the clock 100 years. Stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - EDDIE CONDON AND THE DIXIELAND ALL-STARS, “FAREWELL BLUES”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring songs from 1922 this hour, and let’s hear a song that’s considered one of the most influential songs written in this year.
MUSIC - BESSIE SMITH, “DOWN HEARTED BLUES”
That was the great blues singer Bessie Smith in her first commercial recording, which was actually made in February of 1923, performing a song written in 1922 called “Downhearted Blues.” That tune was written by two women, Chicago blues musician Lovie Austin and the woman who first sang it in Chicago, jazz and blues singer Alberta Hunter.
“Downhearted Blues” has endured mostly due to this association with Bessie Smith. The song (and this recording in particular) has been cited by the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for The Arts, and The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame as being one of the most important and influential songs from this year.
Sometimes the enduring quality of a song has to do not with the song itself, but who that song is associated with. I’ll play two songs from 1922 that have both endured thanks to iconic performances from people on film.
The first is a song written by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman and Danny Russo in 1922, and made famous that year by vaudeville singer Al Jolson. Jolson cemented the legacy of this tune again five years later when he performed it in the film The Jazz Singer, the very first motion picture to include sound.
Here’s a version from nearly 40 years later. This is Tony Bennett in 1961 with “Toot Toot Tootsie (Good-bye),” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, “TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE (GOOD-BYE)”
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, “RUNNIN’ WILD”
Ella Fitzgerald in 1962 with the song “Runnin’ Wild,” written by Arthur Harrington Gibbs, Joe Grey and Leo Wood in 1922. That song was famously performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot. Before that, we heard Tony Bennett in 1961 with the 1922 song “Toot Toot Tootsie (Good-Bye).” That song was famously performed by Al Jolson in the 1927 film The Jazz Singer.
One of the top artists of 1922 was bandleader Paul Whiteman, who recorded hit versions that year of many of the songs I’ve featured this hour. While being a commercially successful artist at the time, he was also a songwriter, and several of his originals have lasted for posterity. Let’s hear one of his first credited compositions, and follow it up with a few more songs from other songwriters written that same year, 1922.
Here is Mel Tormé in 1955 with the Paul Whiteman, Ferde Grofe, and Theodora Morse song “Wonderful One,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - MEL TORMÉ, “WONDERFUL ONE”
MUSIC - BING CROSBY, “BLUE (AND BROKEN HEARTED”)
MUSIC - HARRY CONNICK, JR. “WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS”
A couple of songs from 1922 performed over the decades. Just now, we heard New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr in 1998 with the song “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans,” by Henry Creamer and Turner Layton. Before that, we heard Bing Crosby and Eddie Condon in 1946 with “Blue And Broken Hearted” by Edgar Leslie, Grant Clarke, and Lou Handman. And starting that set, Mel Torme in 1955 with “Wonderful One,” written by bandleader Paul Whiteman, his arranger Ferde Grofe, and one of the few female Tin Pan Alley lyricists from the 1920s, Theodora Morse.
To close off this hour of songs from 1922, I want to turn now to one of the most enduring songs from that year. It’s actually a song that has been kind of co-opted by country music, although 1922 predates the beginnings of the “country” or “hillbilly” genre distinction. It’s the tune “Lovesick Blues,” written by songwriter Cliff Friend and lyricist Irving Mills. It was originally a blues song that first appeared in a Tin Pan Alley musical in 1922. However, in 1925, the minstrel show performer Emmett Miller made a recording of it that included yodeling, and that country yodel has been part of the song ever since.
MUSIC CLIP - EMMETT MILLER, “LOVESICK BLUES”
Miller’s version was imitated by Hank Williams in 1948, turning it into a number one country single and cementing its legacy ever since.
MUSIC CLIP - HANK WILLIAMS, “LOVESICK BLUES”
Let’s hear a more recent version of that 100-year-old song that brings back some of the 1920s Dixieland jazz sound into the song. Here is British jazz singer Jamie Cullum in 2014 with “Lovesick Blues,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - JAMIE CULLUM, “LOVESICK BLUES”
Jamie Cullum, from his 2014 album titled Interlude, with the song “Lovesick Blues,” a tune written by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Cliff Friend and Irving Mills 100 years ago in 1922.
Thanks for tuning in to this “Songs of 1922” edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - BENNY GOODMAN, “BUGLE CALL RAG”
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow