I sincerely appreciate those of you who have commented on how much you enjoyed the recent article on how the music of the 1940s contributed to the war effort during those years.
There are so many more of the 1940s songs that held so many memories for us that I am going to share some of them with you. There is no way we can mention all of them, but, for starters, perhaps some of these will stir your memory, both for the song and for the musicians.
"One Dozen Roses'' became the first hit song of the '40s for Glenn Gray and the Casa Loma orchestra, a band to be famous for a number of years.
Remember the first words? "Give me one dozen roses, put my heart in beside them, and send them to the one I love." Pee Wee Hunt, who was a trombonist for the band, also sang the words for this song.
Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra made a bunch of very popular recordings. Here is a few of them: "I'll Be Seeing You," "Two In Love," "We Three," "Daybreak," "It's Always You," "Just As Though You Were Here," "Let's Get Away From It All." Of course you remember such hits as "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and "Marie."
"You Always Hurt the One You Love" done by the Mills Brothers became a No. 1 song and stayed on the Hit Parade for 20 weeks. The Mills Brothers had one hit after another with such songs as "Paper Doll," "My Shy Violet," "The Jones Boy," "She was Five and He Was Ten," "Daddy's Little Girl," "Honeysuckle Rose" and many others.
Another popular group during the '40s was the Ink Spots with such popular songs as "We Three," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," "Whispering Grass," "It's a Sin To Tell a Lie," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "To Each His Own," "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" and "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano."
When you think of vocalists, there was another who had a long string of popular hits. His name was Bing Crosby. He recorded such favorites as "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "On The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe," "Don't Fence Me In," "Trade Winds," "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."
"Don't Fence Me In" had an interesting story behind it. Bob Fletcher, a cowboy from Montana, wrote a poem that he called "Don't Fence Me In," which Cole Porter, a top-flight composer, liked and purchased for $200.
He laid it back for about eight years until Roy Rogers was planning a film called "Hollywood Canteen" and needed a song to be sung in it. Porter arranged the song, which Roy Rogers sang in the movie. Bing Crosby saw the movie, liked the song, and decided to record his own version with the Andrews Sisters, and it became a No. 1 hit.
We remember "Maria Elena" as a very popular song. Marie Elena was a real person, the wife of the president of Mexico. The song was written and sung in Mexico during the l930s and first moved into the United States in 1941, when Lawrence Welk recorded it. A number of other bands also recorded it because if its popularity.
Guy Lombardo had a boatload of recordings, all of them done in the style of the "sweet" bands. We remember especially such recordings as "Auld Lang Syne," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," and "Easter Parade," which was written by Irving Berlin.
Popular singer Dick Haymes was born in Argentina, came to the U.S. and made a name for himself. He sang with such great bands as Harry James, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, and then sang on radio and in the movies. He had much success but problems with drinking and several wives (including Rita Hayword and Joanne Dru). Skirmishes with U.S. Customs ruined his career. He was known for his good looks and his beautiful baritone voice. He recorded such good music as "Oh, What It Seemed to Be," "Laura," "It Had to Be You" and "Put Your Arms Around Me."
There were some "different" musical groups during the '40s. Do you remember the Harmonicats, who are all played harmonica and recorded "Peg o' My Heart?" Or, do you remember Spike Jones and the City Slickers who had a very famous recording of "Cocktails For Two"?
There were those who didn't like term "harmonica" and preferred instead, a "mouth organ." Jones was a drummer who played in the West Coast bands of Everett Hoagland and Earl Burnett, was on radio through the '30s and backed Hoagy Carmichael (who wrote " Stardust" and "Old Buttermilk Sky'').
He and some Hollywood musician friends gathered once a week to spoof the music they had been playing in the studios. Eventually someone from Victor Records heard their parodies and liked them. When they came with "Der Fuehrer's Face" in 1942, they were on their way.
I'm sure you remember "Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye." His band recorded many of the popular songs of the 1940s. Here are a few of them. One of the most popular songs was "Daddy." Others were "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," "Tennessee Waltz," "As Time Goes By," "I Ain't Lazy, I'm Just Dreamin'," "Harbor Lights," "Who?" "Get Out Those Old Records," and "Sweet and Lovely."
When we think of the '40s, we have to think about "Satchmo," Louie Armstrong. He was certainly one of the greats for many years and contributed much to the big-band era. I'm sure you will remember some of these: "Basin Street Blues," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Ol' Rockin' Chair," "Mack, the Knife," "When the Saints Go Marchin' In," "Easy Street," "Muskrat Ramble," "Pennies From Heaven," "St. Louis Blues" and "When It's Sleepy Time Down South."
Another of the well-known singers of the '40s was Perry Como. He and Crosby both sang so easy and were so pleasant to listen to, I'm sure you will remember some of these as sung by Como: "Catch a Falling Star," "No Other Love," Come Rain or Come Shine," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Begin the Beguine," "Till the End of Time," Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes," "Arrivederci Roma," "Some Enchanted Evening," and "Song of Songs."
I have mentioned a number of big bands and of the popular songs of the 1940s. There are many we haven't covered yet. Perhaps we can do that in some near future date.
I wish we could simply turn on the radio and be able to listen to the big band sounds but unless you have a collection of records, tapes, or CDs, we'll just have to remember with fondness.
Some of the support for this article came from collections of Readers Digest tapes and CDs. I much appreciate then all.
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.