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American Popular Song Composers: Oral Histories, 1920s–1950s by Michael Whorf

By Michael Whorf

During this quantity, 39 of the mythical composers from Tin Pan Alley, Hollywood and Broadway of the Nineteen Twenties during the Nineteen Fifties speak about their careers and proportion the tales of making the various so much liked songs in American track. Interviewed for radio within the mid-1970s, they contain such giants as Harold Arlen, Eubie Blake, Cy Coleman, George Duning, Sammy Fain, Jerry Herman, Bronislaw Kaper, Henry Mancini, David Rose, Arthur Schwartz, Charles Strouse, Jule Styne, Jimmie Van Heusen, Harry Warren, Richard Whiting, and Meredith Willson. photos and infrequent sheet track reproductions accompany the interviews.

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Louis (Lou) Alter 23 goodness, what it did for my ego! Every time I met a girl with that name, followed by all the girls who had been named because of the tune, I could have had one date after another! That opening line of Frank Loesser’s: it got ’em every time! “And here’s one I didn’t know anything about until some years after it was composed. It was a song I had written in 1936 with Sid Mitchell for The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. The pride I have for it stems from the fact that it was President Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite song.

This was a precursor of the Arthur Murray phenomenon that emerged a couple of decades later. Irene and Vernon were also the hosts of the San Souci Supper Club, where Europe’s great orchestra was ensconced. It was James Reese Europe who was initially responsible for introducing the “Blue Book” crowd to what was authentic Afro-American music. James Reese Europe was the oldest of the trio and an accomplished musician. With his first orchestra, The Clef Club, he made history having been the first jazz band to play Carnegie Hall, some 14 years prior to Benny Goodman’s historic engagement.

Well, I go in and I talk to Ed Seiler and Sol Marcus and they asked me if I was a writer. ’ I play them a couple of things and we hit it off. ’ “It was written in 1938 and we walked around with it for three years. Finally, in 1941, Tommy Tucker heard the song and introduced it on his radio show. Later the Ink Spots had a great run with it. The biggest thrill I have ever had was walking into the publisher’s office and he asks me if I want some money. ’ So I go the cashier’s office, maybe looking for a hundred bucks and he gives me a check for five thousand dollars!

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