This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Well, it’s 1944 and it seems that the entertainment industry is hell-bent on trying to get us to forget about the obvious. That seems to be the tenor of the songs today, except for the last one. So, on with the motley…
JUDY GARLAND was a pretty big star by now and one of her most famous films was “Meet Me in St Louis”.
The film had 15 songs in it but the one that’s most remembered today is The Trolley Song.
Here is one of the best trios in popular music, the NAT KING COLE TRIO. I only say “one of” so I don’t get some readers off side, although not many, I expect.
Here they are with Nat singing, which he didn’t always do on the trio records, with one of their most famous songs It's Only a Paper Moon.
I remember from the fifties Dinah Washington having a hit with the song What a Difference a Day Makes. This wasn't the first time the song made the charts. Here in 1944, ANDY RUSSELL did the same with What a Difference a Day Made.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the songs have slightly different names, but it's the same one nonetheless.
Speaking of DINAH WASHINGTON, here she is.
Dinah was always a bit “out there”, as it were. It seems she has so many men she doesn’t know what to do. Apparently, the song parallels her own life. Evil Gal Blues.
RUSS MORGAN fronted a very successful band from the twenties right through to the end of the sixties. His band still continues to this day fronted by his son Jack.
His first bands included such names as Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Lang, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and many other now famous players. From 1944, with Al Jennings singing, is Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stocking).
It seems to me that back in this year many artists were happy to collaborate on the music they produced. That’s obvious from the next two tracks. First up we have ELLA FITZGERALD and the INK SPOTS.
The song they chose is a rhythm & blues staple (and later rock & roll and blues), Cow-Cow Boogie. It’s not a song I associate with either of those performers, but I’m happy to hear what they do with it. Cow-Cow Boogie. It’s an interesting amalgam of jazz and country.
Another fairly obvious pairing is BING CROSBY and the ANDREWS SISTERS.
This isn’t the only time they recorded together, but it’s possibly the most famous of their collaborations, Don't Fence Me In.
We’ll continue with the MERRY MACS.
If you’ve forgotten about the Macs, when I tell you the song, you’ll probably remember (the song anyway). It is Mairzy Doats. Theirs wasn’t the first version, surprisingly, but they were the ones who took it to the top of the charts this year. And our parents carried on about silly rock & roll songs.
We have FRANK SINATRA to bring us back to sanity.
This is one of his very many famous songs, Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week).
Back in 1915, a school teacher named Hans Leip, who had been conscripted into the Imperial German Army, wrote a poem called "Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht" ("The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch").
Fast forward to 1938, and we find that Norbert Schultze set it to music. It was first recorded by LALE ANDERSEN.
She later recorded an English version of the song. It became a huge hit during World War II, both with the German soldiers and the allies as well. So much so that many other versions were released, the most notable of which was by Marlene Dietrich, but there were others – Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, and later Hank Lochlin, Connie Francis and many others.
The song was originally called Lili Marleen, but it’s better known as Lili Marlene. This is the original version by Lale.