Irving Berlin: selected “I’m” songs

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All songs feature words and music by Irving Berlin, except as noted.

Songs included in the page:

  • 1912 – I’m Going Back to Dixie (“I Want to Be in Dixie”)
  • 1912 – I’m Afraid, Pretty Maid, I’m Afraid
  • 1915 – I’m Going Back to the Farm
  • 1916 – I’m Down In Honolulu Looking Them Over
  • 1918 – I’m Gonna Pin a Medal On the Girl I Left Behind
  • 1919 – I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harem (And My Heart’s in My Work)
  • 1921 – I’m Gonna Do It If I Like It (aka “I Like It”)
  • 1926 – I’m On My Way Home
  • 1932 – I’m Playing With Fire
  • 1936 – I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket
  • 1942 – I’m Getting Tired So I Can Sleep
  • 1948 – I’m Beginning to Miss You
  • 1956 – I’m Gonna Get Him

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1912

I’m Going Back to Dixie (aka “I Want to Be in Dixie”) (m. Ted Snyder, w. Irving Berlin) — copyrighted on 14 January 1912

According to The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, edited by Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet (2001), p. 47, the song was first published under the title “I’m Going Back to Dixie” and introduced by May Irwin in She Knows Better Now, which opened January 15, 1912 at the Plymouth Theatre, Chicago. The show closed out of town. Complete Lyrics indicates that a major recording of “I’m Going Back to Dixie” was that by Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan, and that

Under the title “I Want to Be in Dixie,” the song was sung at the Winter Garden, New York, by the Courtenay Sisters in A Night with the Pierrots, the curtain raiser for Whirl of Society.

selected “I’m Going Back to Dixie” recordings

Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan (aka “Collins and Harlan”) — recorded on 4 December 1911 (Columbia matrix 19679); issued in 1912 on the 78 rpm single Columbia A-1112, as the B-side of “‘Lizabeth Ann (A Southern Love Song)”; A-side recorded by Henry Burr and Albert Campbell (aka “Campbell and Burr”) — It’s not clear to me why the recording date precedes the song’s copyright date by over a month.

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Mayfair Orchestra — issued in 1912 on (UK) His Master’s Voice C-213

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(below) selected “I Want to Be in Dixie” recordings

Jen Latona with orchestral accompaniment — recorded c.1912(?), and issued on Zonophone 961, c/w “Gee, but I like music with my meals”

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The American Ragtime Octette — date unknown, probably c.1912

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Geraldo and his Orchestra, vocals: Dorothy Carless and Chorus — issued December 1943 on the 78 rpm single (UK) Parlophone F.1998, as the B-side of “Ragtime Cowboy”

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Johnny Maddox — piano solo medley: “I Want to Be in Dixie” / “At the Mississippi Cabaret,” 31 July 2010

The video provider says:

Johnny Maddox plays two songs about Dixie, Irving Berlin’s “I Want to Be in Dixie” from 1912, and “At the Mississippi Cabaret” from 1914. Recorded in the Diamond Belle Saloon at the Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado – July 31, 2010.

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1912 I'm Afraid, Pretty Maid, I'm Afraid (Irving Berlin)

I’m Afraid, Pretty Maid, I’m Afraid — copyrighted 6 February 1912

Ada Jones and Walter Van Brunt — Columbia recording, 1912(?)

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1915 I'm Going Back to the Farm (Irving Berlin)

1915

I’m Going Back to the Farm — copyrighted 23 Mar 1915

From The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, p. 127:

According to Variety, the song was first sung in public by Irving Berlin during an afternoon at the Strang Roof Garden on February 28, 1915; it was sung again by Berlin in Watch Your Step on March 6, 1915, the hundredth performance of the show. The number did not remain in the show and was not printed in the published piano-vocal score.

Charles W. Ragsdale — published on YouTube, 25 December 2018

The video provider says (case normalized):

This video features “I’m Going Back To the Farm” (played by Charles W. Ragsdale), and the music is presented in a stride piano style. The 1915 song is accompanied by photos (taken by Ragsdale) of the Amador Flower Farm near Plymouth, CA.

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1916

I’m Down In Honolulu Looking Them Over — copyrighted 25 October 1916

Max Kortlander — Autograph 100513 piano roll (presumably made c. 1916) — The video provider gives an incorrect title. The roll itself bears the correct title, “I’m Down in Honolulu Looking Them Over.”

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Al Jolson with the Charles A. Prince Orchestra — recorded on 19 September 1916, Columbia matrix #47030

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1918

I’m Gonna Pin a Medal On the Girl I Left Behind — copyrighted 2 July 1918

From The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, p. 160

Introduced by Frank Carter (a Private) with Gus Minton (a General), Martha Mansfield (the Girl I Left Behind) and male ensemble in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 (New Amsterdam Theatre; June 18, 1918; 151 performances). Leading recording by the Peerless Quartet in 1918 (Victor). Alternate title: “I’ll Pin My Medal On the Girl I Left Behind.”

Peerless Quartet — issued in 1918 on Victor 18486

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Fred Van Eps Quartette — recorded c. August 1918; issued in 1918 on OKeh 1099

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Pete Wendling — “Ziegfeld Follies 1918 Medley” on piano roll QRS 90180, presumably released in 1918

The video provider says:

Played by Pete Wendling QRS # 90180 — Intro.- 1. I’m Gonna Pin A Medal On The Girl I Left Behind; 2. Garden Of Dreams; 3. When I Hear A Syncopated Tune; 4. Any Old Time At All; 5. I Want To Learn To Jazz Dance; 6. I’m Gonna Pin A Medal On The Girl I Left Behind

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1919 I'm the Guy Who Guards the Harem (Irving Berlin)

1919

I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harem (And My Heart’s in My Work) — copyrighted 30 September 1919; introduced by Johnny Dooley in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919

Gregory Jbara with orchestra directed by Lanny Meyers — from the album Unsung Berlin, released in 1995

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1921

I’m Gonna Do It If I Like It — copyrighted 1 February 1921, as “I Like It”

Marion Harris — recorded on 30 December 1920; issued on Columbia A3367,  as the B-side of “Look For the Silver Lining”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike Ivers
    Jan 01, 2019 @ 10:05:14

    Glad to see your terrific history once again. Research on this subject astonishing! Many thanks for wonderful downloads. Simply Fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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