Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby: selected hit recordings 1943-1951

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Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters: Their Complete Recordings Together (released 1996), audio files:

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1943

Pistol Packin’ Mama (Al Dexter)

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Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont) originally published, with a different chorus, as One Horse Open Sleigh in 1857.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra — Recorded 27 September 1943 in Los Angeles (Matrix L3199-A), issued as Decca single 23281 A, b/w Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Chart success: #19 in 1943; #21 after re-release in 1947. Discogs.com and 45cat.com document a 1950 reissue as Decca catalog number 9-23281.

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1944

Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby (Louis Jordan, Billy Austin)

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A Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (Joe Bushkin, John DeVries)

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Don’t Fence Me In (Robert Fletcher, Cole Porter)

From Wikipedia:

Originally written in 1934 for Adios, Argentina, an unproduced 20th Century Fox film musical, “Don’t Fence Me In” was based on text by a poet and engineer with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana, Robert (Bob) Fletcher. Cole Porter, who had been asked to write a cowboy song for the 20th Century Fox musical, bought the poem from Fletcher for $250. Porter reworked Fletcher’s poem, and when the song was first published, Porter was credited with sole authorship. Porter had wanted to give Fletcher co-authorship credit, but his publishers did not allow that. After the song became popular, however, Fletcher hired attorneys who negotiated his being given co-authorship credit in subsequent publications. Although it was one of the most popular songs of its time, Porter claimed it was his least favorite of his own compositions.[1]

The Wikipedia song history may be fairly accurate up to that point, but it definitely veers from the truth in the following paragraph:

The Fletcher poem used would seem to be “Open Range,” contained in his 1934 book Coral Dust. The final couplet is “And turn me loose on my cayuse, But please don’t fence me in.” Apart from that, the rest of the lyrics appear to be Cole’s invention, unless he utilized other material from the book.[2]

First, it was not Fletcher’s “Open Range” that Porter adapted, but a lyric written by Fletcher in 1934. Second, Porter used a lot more than a single couplet of the Fletcher original, as I will demonstrate below. Fletcher wrote the lyric at the request of the Hollywood producer Lou Brock (who’d been assigned to the film Adios Argentina which ultimately remained unproduced) for a cowboy song of the title Don’t Fence Me In.

Within a long quote from the book The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter, ed. Robert Kimball, 1983), found in a thread at Mudcat Café, Kimball says that Brock had received a copy of a book of verse by Fletcher a month prior to his request. Fletcher’s lyric “Don’t Fence Me In” (written in 1934) is thematically derived from his earlier poem “Open Range” (published in 1934); the two share the theme of preferring the clean and wide open spaces of the country to the grime and crowdedness of the city. The Fletcher lyric also inherits a few phrases from his poem: “turn me loose”, “on my cayuse”, “don’t fence me in”.

Here is a link to Fletcher’s 1934 poem “Open Range” (at cowboypoetry.com).

Here is Fletcher’s 1934 “Don’t Fence Me In” lyric (from “The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter”, via the Mudcat Café thread cited above):

Don’t fence me in.
Give me land, lots of land,
Stretching miles across the West,
Don’t fence me in.
Let me ride where it’s wide,
For somehow I like it best.
I want to see the stars,
I want to feel the breeze,
I want to smell the sage,
And hear the cottonwood trees.
Just turn me loose,
Let me straddle my old saddle
Where the shining mountains rise.
On my cayuse
I’ll go siftin’: I’ll go driftin’
Underneath those Western skies.
I’ve got to get where
The West commences
I can’t stand hobbles
I can’t stand fences,
Don’t fence me in.

Kimball affirms that Porter had agreed to credit to Fletcher as co-songwriter. Porter altered the original Fletcher lyric significantly, but retained many key phrases exactly as written by Fletcher.

Among the phrases which are identical in the Fletcher original and Cole Porter’s rewrite are the following:

1. Don’t fence me in
2. Give me land, lots of land
3. cottonwood trees
4. Let me straddle my old saddle
5. mountains rise
6. Just turn me loose
7. On my cayuse
8. where the West commences
9. I can’t stand fences

modified phrases:

1. “I can’t stand hobbles” becomes “I can’t look at hobbles”.
2. “Let me ride where it’s wide” is modified to “Let me ride through the wide…”
3. “And hear the cottonwood trees” is expanded to “And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees”

Also, images, and sensations employed in the Porter version are in debt to the original. Each of the first six lines of Porter’s refrain borrows either a phrase, an image (“wide open” natural setting, cottonwood trees), or a sensation (breeze, and the sound made by wind flowing through cottonwood trees) from Fletcher’s original lyric.

From The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter (page unknown, via the Mudcat Café thread cited above):

Ten years later, “Don’t Fence Me In” was pulled off the shelves of Harms, Inc., then owned by Warner Brothers, and used in Hollywood Canteen, where it was sung by Roy Rogers. A best-selling record by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters sent it to the top of the Hit Parade. The song, then published, sold over one million copies and a like number of records. The published version did not acknowledge Bob Fletcher. Porter later stated that this was an “oversight” committed without his knowledge, as he was in the hospital at the time.

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1945

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive (Harold Arlen, w. Johnny Mercer)

Excerpt from the Wikipedia article:

[“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”] is sung in the style of a sermon, and explains that accentuating the positive is key to happiness. In describing his inspiration for the lyric, Mercer told the Pop Chronicles radio documentary “I went to hear Father Divine and he had a sermon and his subject was ‘you got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’ And I said ‘Wow, that’s a colorful phrase!'”[1][2]

Mercer recorded the song, with The Pied Pipers and Paul Weston’s orchestra, on October 4, 1944, and it was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 180. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on January 4, 1945 and lasted 13 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 2.[3]

Within a matter of weeks, several other recordings of the song were released by other well-known artists…[read more]

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recorded the first cover on 8 December 1944. The record entered the Billboard pop singles chart in late January 1945 and stayed there nine weeks, peaking at number 2.

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The Three Caballeros (Ernesto Cortázar, Manuel Esperón, Ray Gilbert)

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1945 Along the Navajo Trail-Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters-1a-hx40-d10

Along the Navajo Trail (with Bing Crosby)

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(above) Betty Garrett singing South America, Take It Away in a scene from Call Me Mister

1946

South America, Take It Away (Harold Rome) was introduced by Betty Garrett in the musical revue Call Me Mister, directed by Robert H. Gordon, which opened on 18 April 1946 at the National Theatre.

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(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (Bobby Troup) — with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra

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1947

Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby_with Irving Berlin_1947_promote _Freedom Train_1_f10

The Freedom Train (Irving Berlin)

From Wikipedia:

The United States has seen two Freedom Trains. The 1947–49 Freedom Train was a special exhibit train that toured the United States in the later half of the 1940s. A similar train called the American Freedom Train toured the country for the United States Bicentennial celebration in 1975–76. Both trains were painted in special red, white and blue paint schemes, and both toured the 48 contiguous states with displays of Americana and related historical artifacts. The two trains took different routes around the 48 states, but they both stopped for public displays in each of them.

The Freedom Train even had an official song, written by Irving Berlin and performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.

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(below) Peggy Lee, Johnny Mercer, Benny Goodman, Margret Whiting, The Pied Pipers & Paul Weston’s Orchestra — recorded 12 September 1947

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Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters, A Merry Christmas With

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie), and was first sung on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and more than 400,000 copies sold by Christmas. The song is often used to tell children that Santa knows when they’ve been bad or good and that they should be good. — wikipedia

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1947- Camino de Rio-poster-2

1948

You Don’t Have To Know the Language (m. Jimmy Van Heusen, w. Johnny Burke) — performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in the film Road to Rio (1947). The film was released on Christmas Day, 1947.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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1950

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (Scotty Wiseman)

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Quicksilver (Irv Taylor, George Wyle, Edward Pola)

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1951

Sparrow In the Treetop (Bob Merrill)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jw135
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:55:57

    Lovely post! Listening to such classic music always puts me in the holiday mood. I’ll take a good Bing Crosby song over a lame Bieber tune any day. Thanks for such a great post!

    Also, you may be interested in this: http://jwelshnews.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/actors-i-wish-were-immortal/

    Reply

  2. doc
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 13:05:36

    Thanks, jw135. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ll try to visit your site for awhile as soon as I can. — Jim

    Reply

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