Hello Bluebird

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latest edit:  30 May 2017

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Hello Bluebird (Cliff Friend) – The song was registered for copyright in 1926 and recorded that year by Sam Lanin and his Orchestra, Nick Lucas, Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra, and the Clicquot Club Eskimos, the latter an orchestra directed by Harry Reser. Josephine Baker recorded the song (date unknown). Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields performed a greatly modified version in a 1928 short film.

Hello Bluebird was revived by Judy Garland in the film I Could Go On Singing (1963). That year she also sang it in a television special with guests Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, and in Episode #14 of “The Judy Garland Show,” taped November 30, 1963.

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Our first video features the popular vaudeville team Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields, accompanied by two pianists. It’s a Vitaphone short film titled Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields (1928). A plot summary, by <jhailey@hotmail.com>, published at IMDb reads:

The curtain opens; behind it are two pianos where Charles Bourne and Phil Ellis, billed as the Music Boxes, are seated playing. After a few bars, Blossom Seeley and Bennie Fields enter – she’s in tulle, he’s in sport coat, worsted trousers, vest, and tie carrying a cane and straw hat. They do three numbers, “Hello Mr. Bluebird,” Irving Berlin’s “The Call of the South,” and “(A Pretty Spanish Town) On a Night Like This” [ “In a Little Spanish Town”]. Between the first two numbers, they kibbutz about southern music, and for the third song, she dons a sombrero and a serape and he sports a guitar and a gaucho hat. There’s also a bit of dancing during the third number.

In the piano introduction you can hear a quote from another popular 1926 bird song, “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along”. During an ostensibly improvised section beginning at about 1:39, the singers quote a phrase from each of at least the following four popular song titles (I count 3 by Fields, 1 by Seeley, but there may be more) all involving birds, in the following order:

1. “When the Mockingbirds are Singing in the Wildwood” (m. Henrietta B. Blanke, w. Arthur J. Lamb*), 1906 — MP3 file: Sung by Henry Burr using one of his other pseudonyms, Irving Gillette. Recorded in 1906.

2. “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along” (Harry M. Woods) 1926

3. “Bye Bye Blackbird” (m. Ray Henderson, w. Mort Dixon) 1926

4. “Follow the Swallow” (m. Ray Henderson, w. Billy Rose, Mort Dixon) 1924

from the Vitaphone short film Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields (1928)

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(Below) Sheet music for “When the Mockingbirds are Singing in the Wildwood”, published in 1906. From top left: 1. front cover, 2. inside cover: featuring a new song, “My Irish Molly O”, and providing a list of 20 titles of “Songs That Will Please,” 3. sheet music page 1, 4. sheet music page 2, 5. sheet music page 3, 6. back cover: publisher Jerome H. Remick advertisement; central feature: new “Cowboy Love Song,” Cheyenne; and in the borders, left and right, lists of many new songs and new instrumentals.

They linger by the gently flowing river
They watch the golden sunset fade away
And there amid the lilies and the roses
They talk about their future wedding day

The nightingale is singing as he leaves her
But tears are glistening in her eyes of blue
As soft he says,’Tis not for long, the parting
When Springtime comes I will return to you

When the mockingbirds are singing in the wildwood
And the golden moon beams o’er the river shine
At your cottage down the lane
I will come to you again
When the mockingbirds are singing, sweetheart mine

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I’ve been unable, on periodic hunting expeditions, to find lyrics for the Seeley & Fields version of Hello Bluebird. They’ve altered lines significantly throughout. For example, compare the following lines as performed by Nick Lucas, the vocalists for Sam Lanin and his Orchestra and Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra, Tom Stacks with the Clicqout Club Eskimos (all 1926), Judy Garland in I Could Go on Singing (1963), and Janet Klein in 2009 (see videos below) to those sung by Seeley & Fields at the same point in the song. All except Seeley & Fields sing:

All day long I jump and run about,
You can always hear me shoutin’ out,
“Hello bluebird!”.
Got no time for blues or anything,
I’m so happy I just wanna sing,
“Hello bluebird!”.

Blue skies, sunshine, friends that are real!
Old folks, sweetheart, oh how I feel!

I’ll not go wrong, unlike I did, again,
I’ll stay home and be a kid again,
Hello bluebird, hello!

0r slight variants of these lines. Most of the lines have been modified in the S & F version. In their take on the song, running and jumping about is what you do while hard at work, perhaps on the road. When you’ve decided to finally take a rest, there’s no time for that busy stuff anymore. So instead of

All day long I jump and run about,
You can always hear me shoutin’ out,

Seeley and Fields sing

I got no time to run and jump about
I’m happy, I just want to shout…

Just shout a greeting to Mr. Bluebird, that is. I finally decided to attempt the transcription myself. Words transcribed 4-5 February 2011, with later corrections:

S: Hear that Bluebird
F: Where?
S: Up in a tree
F: What does he sing?
S: Boy, he sings a pretty song
F: doo doo doo doo
S: What a lot of joy he brings
F: To who?
S: To you and me
F: To you and me
S: Whenever he sings his pretty song
F: You’ll hear him singin’ all day long
S: Goodbye skies of gray
F: I’m goin’
S: I’m goin’ home
F: back home
Both: today
F: I mean that…
S: Said, (Both:) I got no time to run and jump about
I’m happy, I just want to shout
F: Hello
S: Hello
F: Hello, there!
S: Hello
F: Mister Bluebird
S: Hello, Mister Bluebird
Both: Got no time for blues or anything
I’m happy, I just wanna sing
F: Hello
S: Hello
F: Hello, there!
S: Hello
F: Mister Bluebird
S: Hello, Mister Bluebird
Both: Sunshine, good friends, friends that are real
A lotta old folks, young folks
How happy they’ll all feel
S: I don’t wanna roam again (F: I mean, I got no time [to] wander all about)
Both: Just wanna be a kid again
Singin’ bluebird, hello!

F: There’s the bluebird
S: He always makes me blue
F: There’s the blackbird
S: Egads, the things they do
F: There’s the jay bird
S: Makes me act like a jay
Cuckoo bird make bad this way
(?)
F: While the mockingbird keeps singin’ in that wildwood
S: But they all wanna hear somethin’…somethin’ snappy
F: Like “The red, red robin goes bob-bob-bobbin’ along”
S: That’s pretty
F: Why don’t you try “Bye-bye Mister Blackbird?”
S: I guess “I’ll follow the swallow back home”
F: doo-doo doo-doo,  doo-doo doo-doo
(Charleston beat)

Both: Sunshine, good friends, friends that are real
F: Got (Both:) old folks, young folks
How happy they’ll all feel
S: Boy, (Both:) I don’t wanna roam around again
F: Just wanna be a kid again (S: Wanna be a little bitty kid again) 
F: Singin’ bluebird, hello! (S: Wanna sing that bluebird, hello!)

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Sam Lanin and his Orchestra – 1926

Nick Lucas – Oct 1926

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The Clicquot Club Eskimos, vocal: Tom Stacks — recorded on 28 Oct 1926; issued on the 78rpm single Columbia 795-D, b/w “Some Day”

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Josephine Baker_Murray Korman_1Josephine-baker-02

Josephine Baker – date unknown

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Judy Garland

From the film I Could Go on Singing (1963); the number begins at about 5:37

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Judy Garland and her Guests: Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet (TV special) broadcast on CBS, 19 March 1963

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From Episode #14 of The Judy Garland Show, taped 30 November 1963, and aired on 29 December 1963. The number was also inserted into Episode #10 of The Judy Garland Show, which aired on March 1, 1964. Don’t ask me why Episode #10 is dated later than #14 at Judy Garland Database.

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Janet Klein & her Parlor Boys — from the 2006 album Oh!

Janet Klein – vocal, Firefly Flapper banjolele (available at kleinette.com)
Benny Brydern – Stroh violin
Tom Marion – guitar, mandolin
Corey Gemme – percussion

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*Arthur J. Lamb was a British lyricist best-known for the 1897 song “Asleep in the Deep”, music composed by Henry W. Petrie, and “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” (music by Harry Von Tilzer) one of the most popular songs of 1900. “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” reportedly sold over two million copies of sheet music (Wikipedia cites a feature at parlorsongs.com, “Tear Jerkers in American Song, Part 1,” and the book Breaking Records by William Ruhlmann, 2004, p.8).

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. john
    May 27, 2010 @ 15:13:26

    how do i purchase this number in piano music

    Reply

    • doc
      May 28, 2010 @ 09:59:31

      Hi John, I haven’t bought sheet music in a long time, and never online, and so am not able to recommend any particular sites. I’ve often visited sites which sell sheet music or allow access to their archives by account holders; but my interest has so far been only in the sheet covers and I haven’t paid any attention to how to acquire the sheets. I would suggest searching with google using a keyword group such as “sheet music “Hello Bluebird”” or “piano sheet music “Hello Bluebird.”” For this song I found mostly university library archives as the holders. And each seemed to require an account to gain access. That isn’t always the case. I expected to find commercial sites offering sheet music for the song, but in a short search did not. — Good luck hunting, Jim

      P.S. Sometimes you can find sheets in PDF form online. You enlarge them and take screen shots.

      Reply

  2. ragtimejulian
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 13:52:47

    I would like to buy the sheet music to When the Mocking Birds are Singing in the Wildwood. Can you help me out

    Reply

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