Carolina in the Morning (m.Walter Donaldson, w. Gus Kahn)
The song had its debut in the Broadway musical revue The Passing Show of 1922 at the Winter Garden Theater, which opened on 20 September 1922, and closed after 85 performances on 2 December 1922. Vaudeville performers incorporated the song into their acts and helped popularize it. Notable recordings when the song was new were made by such artists as Marion Harris, and Van and Schenck.*
Other artists to have later successes with the song included Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jimmy Durante, Dinah Shore, Judy Garland, and Danny Kaye. In 1957, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a rock and roll version.
The original 1922 lyrics (now public domain in the United States due to age) are given below. The chorus remains well known, but the verses have generally been omitted from vocal performances since the early years of the song’s popularity. The verses give a hint of melancholy to the song, while the chorus on its own can be an almost ecstatic reverie. — adapted from the Wikipedia song profile
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning
No one could be sweeter than my sweetie when I meet her in the morning
Where the morning glories
Twine around the door
Whispering pretty stories
I long to hear once more
Strolling with my girlie where the dew is pearly early in the morning
Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each little buttercup at dawning,
If I had Aladdin’s lamp for only a day
I’d make a wish and here’s what I’d say:
Nothing could be finer than to be with Carolina in the morning.
Dreaming was meant for nighttime
I live in dreams all the day
I know it’s not the right time
But still I dream away
What could be sweeter than dreaming
Just dreaming and drifting away
Van and Schenk — recorded on 18 September 1922; issued on Columbia A 3712, c/w “I’m Gonna Plant Myself In My Old Plantation Home”; the recording date is two days prior to the Broadway premiere of The Passing Show of 1922
Video or audio file to be replaced
Marion Harris — recorded in September 1922; issued as the B-side of the Brunswick label single “Homesick” (Irving Berlin) (2329)
Hollywood Dance Orchestra — recorded in September 1922, according to the video provider
The American Quartet (WARNING: includes Billy Murray) — recorded on 4 January 1923; issued on Victor 19006, c/w “Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goo’bye,” recorded by Billy Murray and Ed Smalle
Piano Roll — date unknown — QRS Roll #Q-113, played by Max Kortlander
Kortlander, whom I had never heard of before, is apparently something of a legend in the field of player piano rolls. See Max Kortlander: King of the Player Piano, a 2001 biography by Lee Barnett, at doctorjazz.co.uk.
Woody Herman and his Orchestra – The first song in the 1938 short film Woody Herman & his Orchestra. The title is a link to my feature page, which includes the complete film.
Al Jolson – 1947
Live in Long Beach, California – 1955
Judy Garland with Orchestra conducted by Jack Cathcart — recorded on 29 August 1955 for Capitol Records; released on the album Miss Show Business, 26 September 1955
Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore — Episode #54, The Sam Pomerantz Scandals (Season 2) of the Dick Van Dyke Show, directed by Claudio Guzman, filmed on 5 February 1963, originally aired on 6 March 1963
The number begins at about 4:21
* Wikipedia also includes Al Jolson among artists who made notable recordings “when the song was new.” And claims, “Al Jolson’s 1947 re-recording of the song outsold the original.” I’ve yet to feel the breath of a whisper of a hint elsewhere regarding the existence of an early Al Jolson recording, let alone get a whiff of the genuine article. The 1947 recording is the only one I’m aware of.
Second Hand Songs rejects the claim, made by Wikipedia among others, that William Frawley introduced the song in The Passing Show of 1922, crediting instead Willie & Eugene Howard for introducing the song in the show. Second Hand Songs states, however, that
William Frawley, sometimes wrongly credited as the song’s first performer, popularized the song in vaudeville after the show closed.
Lending support to the Second Hand Songs correction regarding Frawley’s part in the song’s history are the facts that while “Carolina In the Morning” does appear among the opening night numbers at the Internet Broadway Database page on the show, Frawley is not among the listed cast members while Willie Howard and Eugene Howard are, and that the first Broadway credit for Frawley recorded by IBDb is for the show Merry, Merry, which opened in 1925.