American Songbook

 

American Popular Song

By the 1950s it was clear that a great tradition of American songwriting had been established; 'The American Songbook'. Popular songs written by the creative genius of a few ordinary immigrant musicians and wordsmiths. A wonderful entertainment industry of big business which fed an insatiable demand. The music followed the path dependency of evolution as the genes survived ... the differential survival of inherited random variants.

From The Blues through Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, National Radio, Hollywood ... and a few superstar players, writers and singers ... to The American Songbook. This was no easy chronology of cause & effect ... the developments ebb & flowed with cycles within cycles as new musics emerged -

dynamic

contemporaneous 

interconnected

interactive

interdependent

and novel emergent cycles were also ... dynamic, contemporaneous & interconnected & interactive & interdependent & emergent!

Louis Armstrong led the way through his different interpretations of The Blues ... hot swinging jazz for dancing ... no holes barred ... the universal ubiquitous overwhelming influence of The Blues ... which was broader and wider more subtle and beguiling than any appreciated at the time ... as Albert Murray explained, The Blues knew no bounds ... but they were different, spontaneous and they swung -

the blues; hauntingly different melodies & scales with complex compelling rhythms & infectious syncopations with dirty timbres; fun, irreverence & interactive social conversations from within a tradition ... 'I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll'  

improvisation; spontaneous creative unwritten collective self expression, which posed an intriguing challenge for players and listeners alike as surprisingly coherent musical trajectories emerged from a spontaneous, apparently chaotic environment

swing; buoyant, detached, floating, melodic & rhythmic trajectories, away from the 'ground beat', resulting in a lilt, which was difficult to describe but unmistakable when heard and felt; it was the manifestation of the tension & release created by the interaction of juxtaposed rhythmic lines ...

The journey from The Blues to The American Songbook was the story of jazz.

Why were the songs, the repertoire, and jazz so inextricably linked?

What made the songs so distinctive and so wonderful? Why did they last so long? Why did every young jazzmen revisit the old songs?

The Great British School of Jazz spiel suggested -

'The performer or composer uses the devices of music to build up tension and excitement as patterns are established or anticipated and expectations aroused but a climax is delayed or disguised in a series of unanticipated surprises and intriguing diversions. All music plays on our natural brain sense, the art lies in tantalising the listener with heightened expectation before a final revelation'.

The jazz musician did all this on the fly ... a prerequisite was intimate familiarisation with both the sounds & emotions of the song vehicle. The key characteristic, as William Zinsser suggested, was a structure which was 'easy to remember' ... as Acker Bilk famously insisted, before you can be hauntingly different, spontaneously creative and swing the song sounds & emotions must be 'stuck in yer 'ead'.

Easy to RememberEasy to Remember Impossible to Forget

The great song writers and lyrists first and foremost wrote memorable songs. Songs that folk could relate to and become emotionally involved with. As with The Blues, everybody knew them, the sounds worked there way into our ears, and the words were full of meaning. Melodies were played with the lyric in mind. Playing Hart not Rodgers, and Ira not George. The melodic trajectories always followed the words with conversational ease ... this was American slang and fun not poetic striving. Lyrics had to 'sing', some words just didn't 'sing', but when they did the lyrics could be magical as song and words 'moved' a story. Pleasure and fun songs were best and the songster were urged to 'get 'em within sight of bed by the last 8' to make a hit. Without knowing the words and the story it became almost impossible to get inside the song ... and the jazzmen had to be inside the song to swing. So much in so small a space. The songs took over. Was it an addiction? 

What was going on?

Verses were appetisers which introduced the choruses for the singers to sing and the jazzmen to play. It was the chorus was what captivated the mind; the essence ... it was the chorus when the tempo stabilised for dancing and the song began to swing.

It seemed there were stylised 'rules' for composers, it was not a free for all ... after all the songs had to be easy to remember ... of course, there were exceptions to all the rules ... but the exceptions identified the song and made the song memorable.

Almost invariably in 4/4 time, with 3 over 4 timings important for swing. 32 bars bars was acceptable brevity, 99% of American Songbook were in 4/4 with 32 bar themes ... or more importantly for the memory, 4 x 8 bar themes and a sequence with repetitions within the themes.

'AABA', the most common. 'A' theme first statement including the song title, 'A' repeated, 'B' a contrasting 'bridge', 'release', or 'middle 8', changing the mood of the song before a return to the familiar 'A' to end firmly grounded again in the home key. The middle 8 often changed key as the surest way to a new mood.

The ABAB, the common variant, again with repeats to help memory, but with 'B' a development or answer to 'A' ... and the final 'B' a 'run in' to the song climax. 

The VI-IIm-V7-I, the turnaround magic as the b7th of the chord drops a semitone to the 3rd of the change.
We learned that variations of the two note melodies formed on the 2-3, 5-6, 1-2 of the scale could be played through the ubiquitous II-V-I changes.

Only 12 notes but an infinity of exciting variations so we never tire ... but the harmonies moved in 'the same old way' as the bass lines moved closely through the 7th chords back to tonic ... always following the familiar sound of the circle of fifths ... or some special variant or rule break which makes each song different and both memorable & exciting.

Repeated notes for punch and energy. Skipped beats and syncopation for lift. Close lines for a relaxed feel. The song move with propulsion. Catchy 32 bar repeated phrases with a release set to some memorable ditty. The 32 formats became ubiquitous and were used extensively with the Blues as frameworks for Jazz improvisations and arrangements.

The writing or creation of melody, harmony and lyrics was a trial & error process, the songs were tinkered into existence.

easy to rememberJazzStandards.com - a central depository of all that was wonderful about The American Song Book. The harmonic vocabulary of jazz standards was derived from classical music, but was adapted to fit the short forms 8, 12, 16, or 32 bars of standard songs making them suitable for improvisation. Jazz musicians often reduced the song to a basic harmonic framework, in order to provide 'space' for creative improvisation and make the harmonies easy to remember ... and visualise?

Chord progressions became 'clichés' which were often dismissed as unsophisticated, but were an uncluttered blank canvass for creative jazz artists?

Note the figures for the number of tunes among the top 1000 jazz standards that were composed in different decades -
<1910 = 24
1910s = 36
1920s = 164
1930s = 312
1940s = 267
1950s = 131
1960s = 58
1970s = 7
1980s = 1
It was suggested that this distribution must be something to do with the harmonic structures of the songs which aid jazz improvisation. Perhaps they all went the same old way of The Blues and Bill Bailey?

The Smithy Lane Stompers discovered & concocted one method of familiarisation which seemed to work for some of us - Teaching The Blues ... 

Our very own song list that we tried to play was just an emotional dip into the treasure chest, assembled over 25 years as we indulged ourselves in The Blues and The American Songbook (or were they both the same thing?) -

Tishomingo Blues001 Tishomingo Blues - Spencer Williams 1917. Jazz started with The Blues and we started with The Blues, but this wasn't a bog standard 12 bar blues it was a 32 bar, 16x2, epic. 12 bar blues with a 4 bar tag including a 2 bar break into the second 16 which had a beguiling 8 bar run in.

... 'to resist temptation I just can't refuse' ...

Tishomingo was a one horse town up north in Mississippi near the Alabama border; named after a Chickasaw Chief who was honoured by George Washington for his service.

Duke Ellington recorded in it 1928.

Bunk Johnson revived it in 1945.

Careless Love002 Careless Love - famously played as a 16 bar Blues by Buddy Bolden. Maybe originally from a Scottish folk song. 

It was bagged by W C Handy in 1926 as 'Loveless Love' with new lyrics.

The first harmony move was to the dominant 7th, then the harmonies started moving with a memorable 4 bar flow down from the tonic 7th to the subdominant and subdominant minor. The same pattern occurs in 'The Saints' ... and many others.

Thanks to my mate Ivan, he has 'named' some the most common chord sequences and aided memories.

 'Magnolia' progression = C - C7 - F - Fm = 011 Saints, 114 Lonesome Road, 132 Girl of My Dreams, 185 Red River Valley.

Recorded by Bessie Smith.

Rank 787 (Careless). Rank 715 (Loveless).

Rugged Cross003 Old Rugged Cross - George Bennard 1913. A hymn with the chords of The Blues.

Country gospel ever popular with The Salvation Army brass bands. And Mum's favourite.  

32 bars AABA with a rousing middle 8.

Inspired by a Monty Sunshine recording with Chris Barber in the 1950s.

Played by 'The Accordion Man' in Dennis Potter's 'Pennies from Heaven' from 1978.

Closer Walk004 Just a Closer Walk with Thee - black gospel song from way back.

Traditionally played as a dirge and release at the New Orleans funeral parades.

Recorded by Bunk's Brass Band with George Lewis in 1945 during the New Orleans 'renaissance' ... recreating the old music of jazz from 1915.

Notably recorded by the Olympia Brass Band in the James Bond movie 'Live and Let Die' in 1962.

Rank 781.

St James Infirmary Blues005 St James Infirmary Blues - can be traced back to an old English folksong called 'The Unfortunate Rake' 1808 which spawned several versions based on the same story. A story about a soldier who had just come from the infirmary where he saw the corpse of his girlfriend.

... 'laid out on a cold marble table, well I looked and I turned away' ...

Eric Townley speculated that St James Hospital in London, which treated leprous maidens, was the basis for the infirmary in the title. The hospital became St James' Palace in 1533!

Vincent Lopez played this song. Lopez was a dance band leader from New York and was a popular broadcaster on radio from 1921; 'Lopez speaking'.

Recorded by Louis Armstrong 1928.

Bagged by Irving Mills, aka Joe Primrose, in 1929.

We listened to Bruce Turner with Humph on 'Humph at The Conway' in 1954.

Rank 239.

Down by the Riverside006 Down by the Riverside - a Negro spiritual from before the Civil War, also know as 'Ain't Gonna Study War No More' and 'Gonna Lay Down my Burden'.

Eternally popular with Dixieland bands. The same old 32 bar Blues AABA changes to the dominated 7th first in bar 5 and then 'the other way' to the subdominant in the middle 8.

Recorded by The Fisk University Jubilee Quartet in 1920.

Then by every body.

My Old Kentucky Home007 My Old Kentucky Home - Stephen Foster 1852. At least one Stephen Foster song was appropriate for every repertoire. Foster wrote the first page of The American Song Book when he borrowed from the Afro American negro influence. The second page was not written until the 1880s.

'Blues or Apple Tree' progression = C - F - C = 007 My Old Kentucky Home, 077 Bugle Boy March, 083 Marching Through Georgia, 090 When You & I Were Young, Maggie,

... 'where the birds make music all the day' ...

Recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1959 on 'Satchmo Plays King Oliver'. Louis was asked how on earth 'My Old Kentucky Home' got on to the play list, 'Well, Papa Joe may have played it ... you know'.

Basin Street Blues008 Basin Street Blues - Spencer Williams 1928 with his namesake Clarence Williams, Spencer was a prolific writer of early Blues.

'Jump up the dial or Georgia' progression - C - E7 - A7 - D7 - G7 - C = 008 Basin Street Blues, 055 Who’s Sorry Now, 080 All of Me, 116 Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Especially popular in 1920s.

Basin Street was the most famous New Orleans thoroughfare in the history of jazz. Running through Storyville from Canal Street past Lulu Whites, Mahogany Hall to 'Congo Square'. Spencer was the nephew of the notorious Lulu White of Mahogany Hall.

The famously recognised verse to the song was written later by Jack Teagarden & Glen Miller and became an obligatory introduction.

... 'won't you come along with me, down the Mississippi' ...

Not a bog standard 12 bar blues but rather an inspiring run round the Circle of 5ths 'Dixie Sequence' without touching the 'blue' subdominant.

Recorded by Louis Armstrong and his Hot 5 in 1928.

Recorded by Teagarden in 1931 with The Charleston Chasers.

Rank 182.

When You're Smiling009 When You're Smiling - Mark Fisher & Larry Shay 1928 with lyrics by Joe Godwin.

'Dragon' progression = I - Em = 009 When You’re Smiling, 067 You Always Hurt The One You Love, 119 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter, 164 Apple Blossom Time.

... 'when your smiling the whole world smiles with you' ... 'when you're crying you bring on the rain' 

This song became the 'beer song' at the conclusion of rehearsals and forever a favourite. We learned that we played the lyrics not the toon.

Louis Armstrong made this a standard from his first recording in 1929.

Recorded by Billie Holiday in 1947.

Rank 225.

Bill Bailey010 Bill Bailey won't you Please Come Home - Hughie Cannon 1902.

An early ragtime number with changes which spawned hundreds of very similar songs. Essential song for improvisers to get to grips with. If you can play 'Bill Bailey' you can play 'em all.

'Over the Waves', 'Washington and Lee Swing', 'Bourbon Street Parade', 'My Little Girl', 'Tiger Rag', 'The Beer Barrel Polka', 'Hindustan', 'Milneberg Jays', 'Oh Ho I Miss You Tonight' ...

All go 'the other way' in the second 16 before the run in.

Bill Bailey was a music teacher in Jackson, Michigan, where Hughie Cannon had a gig at The Whistler Bar. Bill's wife was notorious for giving her husband a hard time.

... 'remember that rainy evening, I threw you out with nothing but a fine tooth comb' ...

Recorded by everybody.

Rank 975.

The Saints011 The Saints - When the Saints Go Marching In - Traditional gospel hymn originating in 19th century New Orleans as a funeral march?

Probably the most requested song ever and subsequently not popular with many performers. Everybody knows it as a simple catchy tune with the harmonies starting to move with a memorable 4 bar flow down 'Magnolia' progression C - C7 - F - Fm in the middle 4 bars.

The song was popularised in 1938 by Louis Armstrong, who recorded the song over 40 times during his career.

I Can't Give You Anything but Love012 I Can't Give You Anything but Love - Jimmy McHugh 1928 with Dorothy Fields.

From Lew Leslie's 'Blackbirds of 1928'. This team also gave us 'On the Sunnyside of the Street'.

... 'gee I'd like to see you looking swell, Baby, diamond bracelets Woolworths doesn't sell, Baby''

Recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1929.

The Mills Brothers in 1932.

Rank 162.

Big Butter and Egg Man013 Big Butter and Egg Man - Percy Venable 1926.

Nickname for wealthy farmers from the mid west who came to Chicago for the big spend. May Alix did the running splits at The Sunset Café, Chicago ... and Louis played a perfect solo.

... 'I'm getting tired of working all day, I want somebody who wants me to play' ...

Recorded by Louis Armstrong Hot 5 1926.

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor014 Make Me a Pallet on the Floor - an exquisite 16 bars in Bb which was on Buddy Bolden's play list. Jelly Roll Morton explained all at The Library of Congress, 'This was one of the early Blues from New Orleans, many years before I was born.

... ''make me a pallet on the floor so your man will never know' ... and so forth and so on'.

The first song our Banjo Player sang in 1993.

W C Handy bagged this song for his 'Atlanta Blues'.

Reorded by Merline Johnson in 1937.

Erika Lewis with Tuba Skinny in 2013.

By & By015 By & By - 'We’ll Understand It Better By and By' -  Charles Albert Tindley 1906. Another old Spiritual written by Tindley (1851-1933) who was born a slave and became 'the Father of Gospel Music'. He also wrote 'We Shall Overcome', the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.

Tindley became a minister of Bainbridge Street Methodist Church, Philadelphia and used his intellectual ability, eloquence, and spiritual singing to amass a congregation of over ten-thousand members.

There'll be Some Changes Made

016 There'll be Some Changes Made - Benton Overstreet 1921 with Billy Higgins. An all Afro American affair.

Infuriating 36 bars ABAB 16 + 16 bars with a 4 bar tag ... but it doesn't make it back to the tonic until bar 31 ... after meandering around the circle of 5ths ... nevertheless intoxicating.

'Salty Dog' progression - 2 or 4 bars on A7 - D7 - G7 - C = 016 There’ll Be Some Changes Made; 050 
At The Jazz Band Ball, 061 Jazz Me Blues,  088 Sweet Georgia Brown. 095 Up A Lazy River.

... 'nobody wants you when you're old & grey, there'll be some changes made today' ...

Ethel Waters recorded it in 1921. Sophie Tucker 1927. Chicago Rhythm Kings 1928. Boswell Sisters 1932. Fats Waller 1934. Art Tatum 1941. Billie Holiday 1959.

Recorded by George Melly in 1972.

Rank 401.

Way Down Yonder in New Orleans017 Way Down Yonder in New Orleans - Turner Layton 1922 with Henry Cramer. 'A southern song, without a mammy, mule or moon'. The same duo who gave us 026 'After You've Gone'. 

'Pendulum or Sweet Sue' progression - G7 - C = 017 Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, 020 Avalon, 027 I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate, 029 Pretty Baby, 031 South, 074 Willy The Weeper, 118 Memphis Blues, 178 Says My Heart.
Pendulum songs, simple and popular with improvisers.

... 'it's a heaven right here on earth, all those beautiful queens, way down yonder in New Orleans' ...

Recorded by Layton & Johnstone in 1927.

The Andrew Sisters 1950.

Rank 368.

Geogia Camp Meeting018 Georgia Camp Meeting - Kerry Mills 1898. Before Jazz there was Ragtime, and it was fun dancing The Cakewalks, syncopated struts.

Kerry Mills was a white classically trained academic, cashing in on the Ragtime craze from around 1895 to WWI.

Did Kerry invent the Cakewalk?

We learned the feel of syncopated 'de-dah-de', that 'kicking quaver' that makes ragtime move.

Kerry Mills also wrote 'Red Wing' & 'Meet Me in St Louis Louis' ... and 'Whistling Rufus' which we loved from Chris Barber days, but we couldn't find a lead sheet ... until the moment had passed and by then there were so many other wonderful songs we vowed to play.

Bourbon StreetParade019 Bourbon Street Parade - Paul Barbarin 1951. Written during the New Orleans Renaissance as an example of how the 'second line' and the old marching bands influenced jazz. 

Perhaps the most famous street in Nawlins ... Chris Barber signature tune.

The hairs still stand on end every time the trumpet opening cadenza sounds.

'Monty Sunshine' run in = F - Fm - C - A7 - D7 - G7 - C - C = 010 Bill Bailey, 019 Bourbon Street Parade, 026 After You’ve Gone, 028 Shine, 050 At the Jazz Band Ball, 077 Bugle Boy March, 080 All of Me, 091 Running Wild, 093 Chinatown, 150 I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, 140 Slow Boat to China. Ubiquitous.

Avalon020 Avalon - Al Jolson 1920 with Bud De Sylva & Vincent Rose. Avalon, California from the show 'Sinbad'.

Nice for the improvisers, 4 bar slugs taken at pace. In G it goes 'the other way' in bar 21 but to Am.

Some say in was Puccini but we played jazz.

Art Hickman 1921.

Billy Cotton 1933. 

Benny Goodman Quartet 1937.

Rank 109.

Bucket's Got a Hole in It021 Bucket's Got a Hole In It - Clarence Williams put it on paper in 1927 ... but it was one in Buddy Bolden's bag from way back.

The original melody can be heard as early as 1914 in the second theme of 'Long Lost Blues' by J Paul Wyer and H Alf Kelley.

A song that was heard everywhere. Joe Oliver played it in Storyville when Louis was a lad. Also heard as 'I Hear You Knockin' but You Can't Come In' and Ken Colyer played it as 'Uptown Bumps' in 1956.

The 'country' lads also played in as their own; Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Ricky Nelson ...

Bob Dylan had a go on The Bootleg Series Vol 11 The Basement Tapes 1967.

We enjoyed it as an example of the versatility of The Blues in 8 bars.

Kid Ory 1946.

Hank Williams 1949.

Louis Armstrong with Trummy 1960.

Ace in the Hole022 Ace in the Hole - George Mitchell 1909 with James Dempsey. Not the Cole Porter song from 'Let's Face It'.

It took us time to get the hang of this one. In A natural with a verse and speed change. Rubato and a rollick!

But it's a good yarn and always demanded a vocal.

... 'this town is full of guys who think they're mighty wise just because they know a thing or two' ...

Lonnie Donegan 1959

Bobby Darin 1961

Connie Francis 1968

Trouble in Mind023 Trouble in Mind - Richard M Jones 1924.

Humph suggested to Elke Brooks that if there had only been six songs ever written this would have been one of them. A classic.

Bertha Chippie Hill with Louis 1926

Georgia White 1936

Bob Wills 1936

Chris Barber 1955

Aretha Franklin 1965

Merle Haggard 1970

Janis Joplin 1975

Johnny Cash 2003

Rank 409.

Darktown Strutters Ball024 Darktown Strutters Ball - Shelton Brooks 1917. One of the best black songsters. This song was his second masterpiece after 'Some of these Days' and was included in Sophie Tuckers vaudeville show.

'My Old Man' progression = C - D7 - G7 - C = 024 Darktown Strutters Ball, 131 Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll, 147 Button Up Your Overcoat, 150 I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover
166 Oh You Beautiful Doll. By far the most popular progression in the American Song Book.

A must play for us as it was the favourite song of The Banjo Player's dad who played a mean alto sax.

One of the first Jazz recordings by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band from New Orleans.

Recorded in New York in 1917 for The Victor Talking Machine Company.

Rank 547.

Blues My Naughty Sweetie025 Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me - Carey Morgan 1919 with Arthur Swanstone & Charles McCarron. Carey Morgan also wrote 'Bugle Call Rag' & 'The Broadway Blues'.

Complete with Dave Renton's Patter Chorus -

... 'There are blues you get from wimmin when you see 'em goin' swimmin' And you haven't got a bathing suit yourself.
There are blues you get much quicker when you hide a lot of liquor And your lady goes and swipes it off the shelf' ...

Ted Lewis 1919

Jimmie Noone 1928

Firehouse Five + Two 1949

Sidney Bechet 1952

Humph 1979

After You've Gone026 After You've Gone - Turner Layton 1918 with Henry Cramer. Written 4 years before 017 'Way Down Yonder in New Orleans'.  An American song and one of the most long lived jazz standard. With 'St Louis Blues' (1914) and 'Indiana' (1917) this song makes the top three pre-1920s jazz standards.

ABAC but only 20 bars; 8 + 8 + 2 tag. Starts on the subdominant with a break 7 & 8 ... 'you'll miss the dearest pal you ever had' ... and the finger breaker in bars 15 & 16 ... 'your heart will break like mine and you'll want me only' ...

Bessie Smith 1927. Sophie Tucker 1927. Ruth Etting 1927.

Louis Armstrong 1929.

Mildred Bailey & Benny Goodman also claimed this classic.

Rank 34.

Sister Kate027 Sister Kate - Armand J Piron 1919 with Clarence Williams.

The Olympia Brass Band with Clarence Williams who published the song, but did the young Louis write it ...from bawdy origins?

Must be played with the verse. Proved to be a roguish romp when we played it.

The chord sequence was used for SOL / Gully Low Blues and East St Louis Toodle-oo. An old faithful, always fun ... C7-F three times then the other way to Bb in bar 13.

Played up tempo by everyone, even The Beatles played it in Hamburg in 1962.

... 'all the boys are going wild, over Kate's dancing style' ...

1st recording was by Bessie Smith in 1921.

Shine028 Shine - That's Why They Call Him Shine - Ford Dabney 1910 with Cecil Mack & Lou Brown. Included in a Broadway show, 'His Honor the Barber' in 1911. Perry Bradford suggested the song was written about a guy named Shine who was with George Walker when they were beaten up during the New York City race riot of 1900.

... 'Well, just because my hair is curly And just because my teeth are pearly
Just because I always wear a smile Likes to dress up in the latest style
Just because I'm glad I'm livin' Takes trouble smilin', never whine
Just because my color's shady Slightly different maybe That's why they call me shine' ...

Les sang the PC version ... 'shine away your bluesies' ...

In Rick's Café, Casabanca 1942

Louis Armstrong 1931

Mills Brothers 1932

Benny Goodman 1947

Rank 498.

Pretty Baby029 Pretty Baby - Tony Jackson 1916 with Egbert Van Alstyne & Gus Kahn. Jelly Roll's rival on the piano.

A jaunty little rhythm song written during the Ragtime era. The secret for this song was to play it smooth and forget the jerky ragtime.

Rumoured to be an older bawdy song about Jackson's male lover but was 'rewritten' by van Alstyne & Kahn and thus secured its place on Broadway in 1916 in 'A World of Pleasure' and 'The Passing Show' ... and came to London in the musical 'Houp La'

... 'won't you come and let me rock you in my cradle of love' ...

Later a well remembered advertising jingle?  The song also inspired the 1978 film 'Pretty Baby'

Doris Day 1947 'Young Man with a Horn'.

Al Jolson 1948

Dean Martin 1952

Hot Time in Old Town030 Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight - Theo Metz 1896 with Joe Hayden

Advertising the McIntyre & Heath minstrel show in Old Town, Louisiana. There was some debate about how the definite article 'the' found its way into the title. Or was it first sung by Mama Lou at Babe Connor's brothel in 1893 in St Louis?

This was another Ragtime song. It had an irresistible rhythm and was adopted as a rallying song during the Spanish American war in 1898 and became Theodor Roosevelt's Campaign song.

The Boy Scouts had their own lyrics for their camp fire song -

... 'Late last night when we were all in bed, Mrs O'Leary left her lantern in the shed
Well, the cow kicked it over, and this is what they said: 'There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!' ...

Bessie Smith 1927

Miff Mole's Molers 1927

South031 South - Benny Moten 1924 with Thamon Hayes.

Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra recorded this 'circular rhythm' in 1924 and again recorded in 1928, when it became a national hit. It was Moten's most popular composition and we loved it. Thamon Hayes was a fine trombonist who help Moten with compositions for the band.

This song was a big jukebox hit in the late 1940s. Originally an instrumental but Ray Charles later wrote lyrics for the tune.

... 'down below that old Dixon Line, where the sun is happy to shine' ...

Moten was influenced by the sophisticated Fletcher Henderson but their style was hard stomping swing.

Extremely popular part of Kansas City jazz in the 1920s. Moten continued to be one of Victor's most popular orchestras through the 1930s.

Rank 849.

Ice Cream032 Ice Cream - Howard Johnson 1927 with Billy Moll & Robert King.

Novelty comic song ...'I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream' ... banal but fun.

Especially when you swing those pentatonic scales.

In 1944 Bill William Russell recorded George Lewis & Jim Robinson for his own label. The story goes that Robinson cut loose with an unexpectedly virtuosic performance. The side was issued under the 'Jim Robinson' name.

The song became a standard and widely imitated, including Chris Barber in 1954. Pat Halcox invented his own lyrics, which are now better known than the original version!

... 'And has he Olá and Pepsi-Cola, then everybody is drinking Coca-Cola' ...

Margie033 Margie - Con Conrad & J Russel Robinson 1920 with lyrics by Benny Davis.

Pianist Con Conrad and Benny Davis were vaudeville performers and J Russel Robinson a ragtime pianist. The latter a member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

The song was introduced by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recording in 1920.

The song was was named after the five year old daughter of singer Eddie Cantor who popularised the song in his 1921 recording. Top of the pops for five weeks.

The song has been endlessly recorded - Bix Beiderbecke, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Mercer, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Erroll Garner, Al Hirt, Claude Hopkins, Ted Lewis, Jimmie Lunceford, Shelly Manne, Oscar Peterson, Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt, Don Redman, Fats Domino, Charlie Shavers, Jimmy Smith, Jo Stafford, Joe Venuti, and Slim Whitman.

It seems everyone loves it ... a I-IV song which works.

Rank 268.

Alexander's Ragtime Band034 Alexander's Ragtime Band - Irving Berlin 1911.

Our first Berlin song, and his first hit and his most famous.

Was Berlin writing about the real New Orleans band of Alexander Joseph Watzke? ... 'the best band in the land' ...

... 'and they can play the bugle calls like you've never heard before' ...

... 'and if you care to hear the Swanee River played in Ragtime' ... magic

Popularised by Emma Carus in the Ziegfeld Follies from 1907. And Al Jolson got onto it.

Bessie Smith 1927

Louis Armstrong 1937

Johnnie Ray 1954

Rank 578.

Dr Jazz035 Dr Jazz - Joe Oliver 1926 with Walter Melrose.

Most famously recorded by Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers in 1926. Classic recordings of the perfect balance of New Orleans ensembles ... with 'Black Bottom Stomp' and 'The Chant' this was bestest.

Pat Fields sang this with The Wall City Jazz Men and this was our choice. 

The electric breaks ... 'when I'm trouble bound and mixed, he's the guy that gets me fixed' ...

Rex Harris introduced us to Dr Jazz - 'a demonstration of jazz in both conception and performance and it would be difficult to find another example which shows all the ingredients so deftly interwoven'. Joie de vivre!

Tin Roof Blues036 Tin Roof Blues - Paul Mares, Ben Pollack, Mel Stitzel, George Brunies and Leon Roppolo with lyrics by Walter Melrose.

New Orleans Rhythm Kings first recorded the song in 1923.

The Tin Roof Café wasn a dance hall on Washington Avenue, New Orleans.

Was this our first visit to the white Dixielanders who proved they could play.

It became our banker as a Blues in Bb.
Also recorded by Jelly Roll Morton in 1924, Joe 'King' Oliver and His Dixie Syncopators in 1928, Wingy Manone, Sidney Bechet ... and Ted Heath in 1959.

Recorded by Jo Stafford in 1954 as 'Make Love to Me'.

Rank 614.

I Ain't got Nobody037 I Ain't got Nobody - Spencer Williams 1915.

Another 'early' song from Spencer Williams, with that never to be forgotten 1st phrase. Ragtime pianist Charles Warfield (1878–1955) claimed to have written this song in 1914.

... 'and nobody cares for me' ...

A well worn early standard.
Bessie Smith 1926, Ruth Etting 1926, Sophie Tucker 1927, Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra 1927, Ted Lewis 1928, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong 1929, Mills Brothers 1931.
Louis Prima in 1956 paired with 051 'Just a Gigolo'

Rank 415.

Muskrat Ramble038 Muskrat Ramble - Kid Ory 1926.

Ex French toon with 'flavour' by Kid Ory popularised in 1926 when recorded by Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five.

The tune has 2 x 16 bar ensemble sections, followed by 16 bars for solos. There was a famous 2 bar trombone tag which Ory played and is nearly always copied today.

The title was made up by Lil Hardin at the 1926 recording session. Armstrong, as was usual, claimed he wrote the tune and Ory only named it. Sidney Bechet remembered it as originally an old Buddy Bolden tune called 'The Old Cow Died and the Old Man Cried' ... and later Ray Gilbert wrote some lyrics and added his name. Take your pick ... but it was a fun 'bone tune and many still play it. 

Ory, and his daughter Babette, became embroiled in copyright and royalty issues and he claimed to have never received his just rewards for a very popular song.

The Bobcats in 1951 played a superb Dixieland version with Eddie Miller on tenor..

Rank 342.

World is Waiting for the Sunrise039 World is Waiting for the Sunrise - Ernst Seitz 1919 with Eugene Lockhart.

Often introduced with a rollicking banjo solo.

Benny Goodman played this song at unbelievable tempos.

Django Reinhardt 1949.

Les Paul & Mary Ford recorded the song in 1955.

The Beatles 1960.

Rank 874.

Indiana040 Back Home again in Indiana - James F Hanley & Ballard MacDonald 1917.

Backed with 024 'Darktown Strutters Ball' from the first recordings of The Original Dixieland Jazz Band in New York in 1917 ... two beauties.

Played several times a night in Reisenweber's Café, New Yok in 1918.

Fabulous song to play we always loved it. Modern jazzmen used the sequence for 'Donna Lee'.

... 'when I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash' ...

The song borrowed from the roaring success of 'On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away' by Paul Dresser from 1897.

Louis Armstrong and the All Stars

Rank 41.

Do You Know What It Means041 Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans - Louis Alter  with Eddie DeLange 1947. From the movie 'New Orleans' 1947.

PanAm pilot's lament.

Louis Armstrong with Billie Holiday 1947

Eddie Condon 1951

Fats Domino 1958

Rank 687.

Someday Sweetheart042 Someday Sweetheart - John & Ben Spikes 1919.

... 'Someday, sweetheart, you may be sorry, for what you've done to my poor heart' ...

This song was a favourite with everyone ... but the only hit the Spike Brothers wrote.

Alberta Hunter 1921 (alias May Alix)

Jelly Roll Morton 1923

Sophie Tucker 1924

King Oliver 1926

Bing Crosby 1934

Mildred Bailey 1935

Rank 364.

043 Home - When Shadows Fall - Harry Clarkson, Geoffrey Clarkson and Peter van Steeden in 1931.

We only played this tune because Louis played it.

Paul Whiteman 1931 with Mildred Bailey

Beale Street Blues044 Beale Street Blues - W C Handy 1916. Born in Alabama the son of a pastor. Handy settled in Memphis in 1909 and played the clubs of Beale Street ... the famous road in downtown Memphis.

In 1903, waiting for a train at Tutwiler, Mississippi Delta, Handy told the tale of how he met the Blues -

'A lean loose-jointed Negro had commenced plunking a guitar beside me while I slept ... as he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar in a manner popularized by Hawaiian guitarists who used steel bars ... the singer repeated the line three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard'

We have to thank Handy, he not only heard the 'weird' Blues he wrote them down as best he could and introduced the world to this new music.

Handy's popular music publications were formalisations of the sounds he heard on the Delta.

Recorded by Ottilie Patterson in 1958.

Rank 463.

045 Nobody's Sweetheart -

'Small jump up the dial or Ja Da' progression = C - A7 - D7 ... = 045 Nobody's Sweetheart, 133 Coney Island Washboard

Rank 843.

047 Royal Garden Blues -

Rank 204.

048 Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington 1930 with Barney Bigard & Irving Mills.

Sung by Ivie Anderson in 1940.

Rank 161.

050 At the Jazz Band Ball -

Rank 413.

051 Just a Gigolo -

Rank 583.

054 Whispering -  a strong professional piece.

Rank 540.

Who's Sorry Now055 Who's Sorry Now - Ted Synder 1923 with Bert Kalmer & Harry Ruby.

32 bars ABA'C, a trip round the circle until the distinctive change to subdominant mood in bar 23.

... 'I tried to warn you someHOW, you had your way now you must pay' ...

Isham Jones recorded it in 1923.

Connie Francis in 1958.

Rank 454.

057 Sweet Lorraine -

Rank 37.

058 Black and Blue - Fats Waller 1929 with Andy Razaf.

Rank 432.

059 's Wonderful - George & Ira Gershwin 1927. From 'Funny Face'.

Rank 98.

061 Jazz Me Blues -

Rank 380.

062 Ain't Misbehavin' - Fats Waller 1929 with Andy Razaf.

Rhythm ballad with nice 'spill overs' in the bar 4s ... 'I'm happy on the shelf' ... 'just you I'm thinking of' ... 'me & my radio' ...

From 'Hot Chocolates' at Connie's Inn in Harlem with Louis as Musical Director, during the stride piano age ... but Louis played it as a trumpet solo..

 1929 hits -

Louis Armstrong

Bill Bojangles Robinson

Gene Austin

Ruth Etting

Fats Waller

Rank 32.

063 Bye Bye Blues - Dave Bennett 1925 with Fred Hamm.

'Hindustan chord' or 'Bye Bye Blues' progression = C - Ab - C - A = 063 Bye Bye Blues.
A wistful effect.

Rank 499.

064 Some of These Days - Shelton Brooks 1910.

A landmark rhythm ballard for 1910, ABCD, it tested our memories but was a big hit.  Starting off in the relative minor it goes 'the other way', like so many others in bar 19, and lingers there until the run in.

Perhaps his best, made famous by the last of the red hot Mamas; Sophie Tucker.

Remembered by Tommy Jones at The Mill, Chester.

Recorded by Sophie Tucker in 1927.

Rank 405.

Baby won't You Please Come Home066 Baby won't You Please Come Home - Clarence Williams 1919 with Charles Warfield.

Improvisers love to take liberties with this song, just like 071 'Buddy Bolden's Blues' ... it's has a natural flow of its own.

... 'I have tried in vain, nev-er no, more to call your name' ...

Bessie Smith 1923.

Recorded by McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1930.

Rank 205.

068 Sheik of Araby -

Rank 165.

070 Four or Five Times -

Rank 741.

073 Sugar Blues -

Rank 791.

079 Glory of Love -

Rank 897.

080 All of Me -

Rank 71.

081 You are My Sunshine -

Rank 919.

083 Marching Through Georgia - Henry Clay Work 1865. Who also wrote 'Grandfathers Clock' 1875.

Our drummer's favourite.

086 You'd be so Nice to Come Home To - Cole Porter 1942. Wrote his own lyrics. A rich boy from the midwest with a homosexual bent, from Boarding School and Yale.

087 St Louis Blues - W C Handy 1914.

He published blues lines from the songs he heard & played ... and this was his most famous ... with a 'Spanish tinge'.

Recorded by everyone.

Rank 20.

088 Sweet Georgia Brown - Maceo Pinkard 1925 with Ben Bernie & Ken Casey. 

Rank 16.

091 Runnin' Wild -

Rank 482.

093 Chinatown -

Rank 703.

094 As Time Goes By - Herman Humpfeld 1931. Originally written for the Broadway musical 'Everybody's Welcome' which everybody has forgotten but nobody has forgotten 'Casablanca' and Rick's Café in 1942.

Rudy Vallée modeled his jazz crooning style on saxophone phrasing from 1929. He recorded this standard in 1943.

We played this one for the Millennium. Emotionally off the chart.

Rank 266.

095 Lazy River -

Rank 682.

096 Easter Parade -

Rank 662.

097 Stormy Weather - Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler 1933. From 'Cotton Club Parade' sung by Ethel Waters. So emotional and who could forget those added bars. It took a long time to master this.

Rank 106.

098 My Blue Heaven -

Rank 406.

106 Yellow Dog Blues - W C Handy 1914. 

Each song told a 'story' ... this railroad tale identified the whereabouts of a lover ... 'goin' where The Southern cross The Dog'.

Recorded by Bessie Smith in 

107 See See Rider -

Rank 468.

112 Nagasaki -

Rank 617.

111 Bye Bye Blackbird -

Rank 126.

114 Lonesome Road -

'Magnolia' progression = C - C7 - F - Fm = 114 Lonesome Road, 132 Girl of My Dreams

Rank 574.

116 Please Don't Talk about Me -

Rank 634.

118 Memphis Blues - W C Handy 1911. The song that made Handy's reputation with the help of Vernon & Irene Castle and their dance craze with Jim Europe.

Recorded by Jim Europe in 1919.

Rank 725.

119 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down -

Rank 515.

124 Swing Low Sweet Chariot -

Rank 478.

125 Blue Turning Grey Over You -

Rank 744.

128 Rosetta -

Rank 203.

129 Rudolph

Rank 981.

135 You're Driving Me Crazy -

Whispering Paul McDowell and The Temperance Seven.

Rank 243.

136 Hesitatin' Blues - W C Handy 1915.

Velma Middleton and Louis

137 Oh You Beautiful Doll -

The first published 12 bar Blues.

138 Goin' Home - Ken Colyer

The Parade Jazz Band at the Boathouse, Parkgate.

Somebody Stole My Gal139 Somebody Stole My Gal - Leo Wood (1882-1929) songwriter & lyricist.
Wood was best remembered for 'Somebody Stole My Gal' 1918.

Also the Paul Whiteman jazz standard 'Wang Wang Blues' and 091 'Runnin' Wild'.

Billy Botton signature tune ... 'Wakey Wakey'!

Rank 593.

Slow Boat to China140 On a Slow Boat to China - Frank Loesser 1948.
Frank was steeped in classical music. Lyrics first then songs. From Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood to Broadway.
Initially he had 'a rendezvous with failure'. Then 'Two Sleepy People' & 'Heart & Soul' with Hoagy, 'Slow Boat to China' 1948, 'Baby it's Cold Outside' 1949.
Was 'Slow Boat' song a bizarre selection for jazz improvisation? In 1948 jazzers were playing The Standards in the The American Songbook with the typical Blues and 'Rhythm' changes but Loesser's 'Slow Boat' was a pop song of the day.
ABAC - with a bluesy move to Dm in bar 3 rather than F in bar 7 ... then repeats the Dm move before coming home and a usual A7, D7 & G7 before the repeat and final 8 bar 'Monty Sunshine' run in.
Why did Sonny Rollins bother with a pop song?
Recorded by Benny Goodman in 1948.
Charlie Parker in 1949.
Sonny Rollins in 1951.
Rosemary Clooney & Bing Crosby in 1958.
Fats Domino and Paul McCartney.

Rank 630.

Rank 630.

141 It's Only a Paper Moon - Harold Arlen 1933, with Yip Harburg & Billy Rose.

The song has long endured as a popular vehicle for jazz improvisations. The bluesy Arlen melodic line follows the Blues changes to the subdominant then the dominant in the first 4 bars, repeated 4 times to a neat middle 8 which takes us back to the tonic 3 times before a turnaround to the main theme. No wonder improvisers loved it.

Recorded by Paul Whiteman in 1933. Nat King Cole in 1944. Ella Fitzgerald in 1945. Rank 154.

And almost everyone else including Ian Wheeler with Chris Barber in 1961.

Rank 154.

142 Dinah - Harry Akst 1925 with Sam Lewis & Joe Young.

Relaxed without pretensions.

... 'every night, my how I, shake with fright, because my, Dinah might, change her mind about me' ...

Rank 134.

146 Summertime - George & Ira Gershwin 1935. From 'Porgy & Bess' a mould breaking folk opera. Summertime was no 32 bar cliché but a minor Blues like no other. Rhythms of the cotton fields. Gershwin lived in Catfish Row, South Carolina. He was into jazz, they were all a continuity.

Summertime was difficult to play because it was different. But we were happy we played it, it was a real Blues.

Rank 3.

147 Button Up Your Overcoat - Ray Henderson 1928 with B G DeSylva & Lew Brown.

From 'Follow Thru' 1928.
Easy to sing and remember, gems of economy. This gang also wrote; 'The Best Things in Life are Free', 'You're the Cream in My Coffee', 'Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries', 'You are My Lucky Star', 'Birth of the Blues'.

148 Ain't She Sweet -

Rank 650.

162 You're Dancing on My Heart -

Victor Silvester.

163 Roll Along Prairie Moon - Albert Von Tilzer 1935 with Ted Fio Rito & Harry McPherson.

Jack Jackson & His Orchestra

164 Apple Blossom Time - Albert Von Tilzer 1920 with Neville Fleeson.

165 Dapper Dan - Albert Von Tilzer 193

166 Pennies from Heaven - Johnny Burke 1936 with Arthur Johnston.

... 'so when you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree, there'll be pennies from heaven for you & me' ...

Sung by Arthur Tracy, 'The Street Singer'.  

Rank 81.

167 Down Sunnyside Lane - Jimmy Campbell 1931 with Reg Connelly.

Jack Payne & BBC Dance Orchestra

168 Painting the Clouds with Sunshine - Joe Burke 1929.

Joe Burke (1884-1950) from Philadelphia, a silent movie pianist. He wrote this song with Al Dubin for 'Gold Diggers of Broadway' in 1929.
Many hits different lyricists. 'Oh How I Miss You Tonight' (1924), 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips' (1929), 'Carolina Moon' (1929), 'Moon Over Miami' (1935), 'It Looks Like Rain in Cherry Blossom Lane' (1937) and 'Rambling Rose' (1948).

170 Clouds will Soon Roll By - Harry Woods 19 with Billy Hill.

Elsie Carlisle with Bert Ambrose and His Orchestra.

171 On the Sunny Side of the Street - Jimmy McHugh 1930 with Dorothy Fields. Also gave us ' I Can't Give You Anything but Love' in 1929.

Rank 55.

172 Blue Moon - Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. Probably their most popular song ... but not their best.

One of the few R & H songs that became popular from radio and not Broadway or Hollywood.

Just ... Em7-Am7-D7-G ... again and again ... and again! Until relief in bar 21 ... 'I heard somebody whisper please adore me and when I looked the moon had turned to gold' ...

Rank 94.

173 You've Got Me Crying Again - Isham Jones / Charles Newman.

Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra

174 Yes, My Baby Said Yes - Con Conrad 1931 with Cliff Friend.
Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra with Sam Brown.

175 Life Begins at Oxford Circus -

Jack Hylton.

176 - We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines - Nacio Herb Brown, with Arthur Freed.

Billy Merrin and His Commanders.

177 Anything Goes - Cole Porter 1934 - 'In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now, heaven knows, anything goes'.

Rank 754.

Says My Heart178 Says My Heart  - Burton Lane 1938 with Frank Loesser. 

... 'it's romance take a chance, says my heart' ...

Lou Levy & His Orchestra.

Ambrose & His Orchestra 1938

Billie Holiday 1938

Mildred Bailey 1938

Andrews Sisters 1938

179 Moon Got in My Eyes - Johnny Burke 19?? with Arthur Johnston.

Carroll Gibbons / Savoy Hotel Orpheans

180 Whistling in the Dark - Dana Suesse 19??.

Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra.

The Continental181 Continental - Con Conrad 1934 with Herbert Magidson.

From the film 'The Gay Divorce'. Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. Remembered from Clems.

Wonderful long repeated phrases with big contrast middle 8.

... 'it has a passion, the continental, an invitation to moonlight and romance' ...

Harry James & Rosemary Clooney 1952.

Rank 906.

182 Sentimental Journey - Les Brown & Ben Homer 1944. Lyrics Bud Green.

Les Brown & His Band of Renown with Doris Day.

Played by the Dennis Williams Quintet in the dark at Clemences in 1959. We recalled Miss Jones needed a song, 'please play that lovely one that goes down in semitones'.

Conway Twitty recorded a Rock 'n' Roll version in 1959.

The Platters recorded it in 1963.

Rank 792.

183 I Got Rhythm - George & Ira Gershwin 1930. From 'Girl Crazy'.

George & Ira Gershwin wrote for the unforgettable Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers dance movies.

Learn to 'I Got Rhythm' and you can play jazz standards! Ad Nauseum with the 4 square middle 8?

In Bb bars 1-2 and 3-4 turnarounds back to Bb. Then in bars 5-6 the song goes the other way, from I7, Bb7 to the IV, Eb, and IVm, Ebm. Bars 7-8 another turnaround. Repeated with a middle 8 circle of 5ths, 2 bars D7 to G7 to C7 to F7.
The VI-IIm-V7-I, turnaround magic as the b7th of the chord drops a semitone to the 3rd of the change.
We learned that variations of the two note melodies formed on the 2-3, 5-6, 1-2 of the scale could be played through the ubiquitous II-V-I chord changes.

Rank 73.

184 It Had to Be You -

Rank 361.

185 Red River Valley -

186 Make the Knife - Kurt Weill 1928. A German classicist who reinvented himself in American pop. The Threepenny Opera included this sardonic song was written in Germany in 1928 resuscitated on Off-Broadway in 1954.

Weil left Germany in 1933 and wrote 'Lady in the Dark' in 1941 with Ira Gershwin, famous for dream sequences with a shrink in a fantasy world. 

Louis Armstrong recorded the song in 1956.

Bobby Darin in 1959.

Rank 110.

187 Just Let Me Look at You - Jerome Kern 19 with Dorothy Fields.

Lew Stone & His Orchestra

188 Love is the Sweetest Thing - Ray Noble 19??.

Al Bowlly.

189 You Couldn't Be Cuter - Jerome Kern

Lew Stone & His Orchestra

190 Better Think Twice -

Carroll Gibbons / Savoy Hotel Orpheans

 

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