Irving Berlin: selections from Stop! Look! Listen! – 1915
Stop! Look! Listen! was a 1915 Broadway revue with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The New York run, following a tryout in Philadelphia, opened at the Globe Theatre on December 25 and ran for 105 performances. Produced by Charles Dillingham. Book by Harry B. Smith. Staged by R.H. Burnside. Orchestra under the direction of Robert Bowers and Frank E. Tours. The London production, under the title Follow the Crowd opened at the Empire Theatre, 19 February 1916.
The Broadway cast featured star Gaby Deslys. Blossom Seeley introduced That Hula Hula. Marion Davies was one of the “Magazine Girls” (aka the “Four Seasons”).
Song title list, with some lyric links:
Note: The links on selected titles go to lyrics at thepeaches.com. Lyrics for all titles are available in the Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, and many can also be found on line; but some were not published and Complete mentions recordings for only three of the songs, The Girl on the Magazine Cover, and I Love a Piano, both of which were major hits, and When I Get Back to the U.S.A. A fourth, Take Off a Little Bit, was used in Follow the Crowd, the London adaptation. Take Off a Little Bit, with the lyrics of the first verse modified (I haven’t compared the second verse yet) was recorded in London by Fay Compton in 1916.
- These Are the Costumes (Mirror Specialty)
- Blow Your Horn
- Why Don’t They Give Us a Chance?
- I Love to Dance
- And Father Wanted Me To Learn A Trade
- Girl On The Magazine Cover, The
- I Love A Piano
- I Love to Sit By the Fire
- Oh, What a Place is Dreamy Honolulu
- That Hula Hula (lyrics only at this time)
- A Pair of Ordinary Coons
- When I’m Out With You
- Take Off A Little Bit
- Teach Me How To Love
- The Law Must Be Obeyed
- Ragtime Melodrama
- When I Get Back To The U.S.A. *
- Stop! Look! Listen!
- I’m Coming Home with a Skate On [or: I’ll Be Coming Home with a Skate On]
- Everything In America Is Ragtime
Dropped prior to the New York opening:
Selections from Stop! Look! Listen! — audio files from the site American Classics:
(To play a file requires installation of Real Player or an alternative)
- Overture – Margaret Ulmer and Bradford Conner, piano
- “Until I Fell in Love With You” – Vera Gay (Valerie Anastasio) and Willie Chase (Brent Reno), her fiancé
- Act II, Scene 1 – Rob Ayers (Benjamin Sears), a librettist; Frank Steele (Bradford Conner), a composer; Abel Hornblower (William Thorpe), a press agent; and Gideon Gay (Bob Jolly), a tired businessman
- “The Law Must Be Obeyed” – Benjamin Sears and Bradford Conner
- “Ragtime Melodrama” – Ensemble
- “Everything in America is Ragtime” – Gaby (Mary Ann Lanier), only a chorus girl now, but just wait
- Finale Ultimo – Ensemble
- Hear the song “When I Get Back to the U.S.A.” and other songs from Stop! Look! Listen! on Benjamin Sears & Bradford Conner’s CDs, Come On and Hear! and Keep On Smiling
from Act I
The Girl on the Magazine was introduced by Joseph Santley and “The Four Seasons”(see photo, above). The song is also known and recorded under the alternate title The Girl on the Magazine Cover.
(above, two photos) The “Four Seasons,” also referred to as the Magazine Girls, pose in costume with Joseph Santley. The seasons are represented by Eleanor St. Clair (Spring), Marion Davies (Summer), Evelyn Conway (Autumn), and Hazel Lewis (Winter).
Early recordings: The top-selling recording (1916) was by Harry Macdonough. Billy Murray’s 1916 recording was released as the B-side of I Love a Piano. Both sides were hits, according to The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, eds. Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet, 2005,p. 133.
Harry Macdonough — 1916
From a biography by Allan Sutton titled “Harry Macdonough: Victor’s Singing Executive,” published at Mainspring Press (mainspringpress.com):
John S. Macdonald — known to millions of record buyers as “Harry Macdonough” — was among the best-selling and most prolific studio singers of the acoustic era. What those customers did not know was that “Macdonough” was the alias of an important Victor Talking Machine Company manager, and later executive, for whom singing was largely a sideline.
Macdonald’s first documented recording session was a test engagement for Edison on October 17, 1898. Supposedly at the urging of Edison studio manager Walter Miller, Macdonald took the pseudonym of “Harry Macdonough,” apparently unaware that he was appropriating the name of a popular New York musical comedy star. Once the problem was discovered, Macdonald sent a letter of apology to his namesake, yet he continued to use the name. The fact that neither Miller nor Macdonald was aware of a star of the real Macdonough’s magnitude reflects the cultural vacuum in which the early record companies sometimes seemed to operate.
Ampico Lexington #50372C, player piano roll played by William E. Berge, date unknown
Dick Haymes with piano accompaniment by Carmen Cavallaro — recorded on 28 December 1947; issued on Decca 24422, c/w “Soft Lights and Sweet Music”
In Easter Parade (1948), The Girl on the Magazine Cover is production number, sung by Richard Beavers and chorus, danced by Ann Miller and chorus.
The film version uses only the song’s chorus, omitting both of the verses written by Berlin. In doing so it completely misses the satirical nature of the lyric, which is made especially clear at the conclusion of the second verse:
My home is a picture book
If ever you came to look
You’d find her in ev’ry corner
And in ev’ry nook
She’s fairer than all the queens
And loving her simply means
That I’m kept busy buying magazines
Tiny Tim — live, 20 August 1993
garygadjet — Gulbransen Rialto K theatre organ, 2011
I Love a Piano
I know a fine way to treat a Steinway
I love to run my fingers o’er the keys, the ivories
And with the pedal I love to meddle
When Padarewski comes this way
I’m so delighted if I’m invited
To hear that long haired genius play
So you can keep your fiddle and your bow
Give me a P-I-A-N-O, oh, oh
I love to stop right beside an upright
Or a high toned Baby Grand
Billy Murray – recorded 5 January 1916 in Camden, NJ
Allen Dale — performed as an instrumental solo, ragtime piano
Liza Minnelli – live performance for the UK television chat show Aspel, 8 March 1986
Michelle Garramone, Belmont University Musical Theatre freshman (class of 2012) sings “I Love a Piano.” The performance took place during a vocal seminar on February 5, 2009 at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
Take Off a Little Bit
Fay Compton — recorded on the HMV label (C-663) at the studios of The Gramophone Company, Ltd., at Hayes, Middlesex, west of London. ‘Take Off a Little Bit’ was originally sung by Gaby Deslys in Stop! Look! Listen! at the Globe Theatre, New York, 25 December 1915.
Fay Compton (1894-1978), the English actress and singer, whose long career began in The Follies with her first husband H.G. Pelissier at the Apollo Theatre, London, in 1911, afterwards played in a number of musical pieces including Follow the Crowd, which opened at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, on 19 February 1916. The song she sings here is Irving Berlin’s ‘Take Off a Little Bit’ from that show, accompanied by studio singers Bessie Jones and Ena Bennie, and the Empire Theatre Orchestra conducted by Jacques Heuvel.
Take Off a Little Bit (Irving Berlin)
The girls are over-dressing
It keeps the fellows guessing
I’ve heard them say the gowns today
Are really most distressing
Your ankle is detested
If you have over-dressed it
A man must see an inch or three
To keep him interested
An ankle now and then
Will catch the best of men
So take off a little bit
A tiny little bit and nothing more
Just raise your dress up a little bit
Don’t let it drag along the floor
Because a banker, a broker, a lawyer, a sport
They always look longer when dresses are short
So take off a little bit
If you don’t make a “hit”
Take off a little bit more
Introduced by Blossom Seeley, as Lilla Kiliana (“a Hula Hula girl”) and ensemble
Underneath the sad Hawaiian moon
Where the sad Hawaiians love to spoon
While the Ukeleles strum a tune
Ev’ry evening you can see them doing
Have you seen them do the Hula
The way they do?
I know if you knew
How to do the Hula-Hula
You’d be in Honolula
Doing the Hula, too
I can teach you how to do the dance
Tell me, would you like to take a chance?
Shake your hands, quietly advance
In another minute you’ll be doing
* Click on the following link to listen to a Billy Murray recording of When I Get Back to the U.S.A, from Stop! Look! Listen!:
- When I Get Back to the U.S.A. (Irving Berlin) — Billy Murray, c. 1916 (audio file at firstworldwar.com)
Lyrics to the song are also conveniently provided below the audio player. The song is sung as a countermelody to “America,” aka “My Country! ‘Tis of thee!”