Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Kay Kyser

Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo)

First recorded by Hal Kemp & His Orchestra feat. The Smoothies (US #2 1939).
Other hit version Kay Kyser (US #1 1939).
Also recorded by Frankie Howerd (1949).

From the wiki: “‘Three Little Fishies’ was written by Hal Kemp Orchestra saxophonist ‘Saxie’ Dowell, with lyrics by Josephine Carringer and Bernice Idins, and was first recorded in 1939 by Hal Kemp & His Orchestra with vocals by The Smoothies.The song tells the story of three fishes who defy their mother’s command of swimming only in a meadow, by swimming over a dam and on out to sea, where they encounter a shark, which the fish describe as a whale. They flee for their lives and return to the meadow in safety.

“The song was a US #2 hit in 1939 for Kemp but topped the Hit Parade when recorded by Kay Kyser, with vocals by Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason and Ish-Kabibble. ‘Three Little Fishies’ was released in the UK as a 78 by British comedian Frankie Howerd, on the short-lived UK Harmony label, in 1949.”

(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover

First recorded by The Bunny Berigan Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #6 1942), Vera Lynn (1942), The Checkers (1952), The Righteous Brothers (UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “So ‘British’ was its diction, imagery and tone, many Americans thought ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’ was written by an Englishman. Instead, it was composed in 1941 by a couple of Americans, Walter Kent (allegedly based on ‘Over the Rainbow‘) with lyrics by Nat Burton, inspired by an American poem written by Alice Duer Miller and Walter Kent titled ‘The White Cliffs’.

“First introduced on the radio by Kate Smith, the first recorded release of the song was by the Bunny Berigan Orchestra in late 1941. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra topped the Hit Parade with their recording, while Glenn Miller’s recording also charted in the Top-10. There was, for a time in early 1942, fourteen different recordings of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ vying for public attention. But, the most-famous arrangement was recorded in England by Vera Lynn in 1942, with Mantovani’s orchestra, for Decca Records, becoming one of Lynn’s best-loved recordings and among the most popular World War II tunes, serving to uplift civilian morale at a time when Great Britain ‘stood alone’ against Nazi Germany.

“Symbolically, the White Cliffs of Dover are a guardian and protector of the English, a symbol of England’s strength against potential enemies and a reassuring sight to returning travelers. The lyrics refer to the RAF and RCAF fighter pilots (in their blue uniforms) as ‘bluebirds’ (although bluebirds are not native to Europe, and are not migratory) and expresses confidence that they would prevail. Notable phrases include ‘Thumbs Up!’, which was an RAF and RCAF term for permission to go, and ‘flying in those angry skies’ where the air war between Great Britain and Germany was taking place. The lyrics also looked towards a time when the war would be over and peace would rule over the iconic white cliffs of Dover, Britain’s symbolic border with the European mainland.

“Post-war, The Checkers’ 1953 R&B treatment of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ was a Top-5 hit in Los Angeles but did not chart nationally. In 1966 the Righteous Brothers reached #21 in the UK with their cover version of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’.”

Jingle Jangle Jingle

First performed by Dick Thomas (1942).
Hit versions by The Merry Macs (US #4 1942), Kay Kyser (US #1 1942), Gene Autry (US #17 1942).

From the wiki: “‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ was written by Frank Loesser (‘Baby It’s Cold Outside‘, ‘Inch Worm’, ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?‘) and Joseph J. Lilley, and published in 1942. It was first introduced in the motion picture The Forest Rangers, starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard, and was sung by movie cowboy Dick Thomas (‘Sioux City Sue’, 1945).

“The Merry Macs released the first commercial recording of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ in 1942. First formed to play proms in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Merry Macs were made up of the three McMichael brothers – tenors Judd and Joe, and baritone Ted – and vocalist Mary Lou Cook. The Merry Macs were discovered by organist-bandleader Eddie Dunstedter from radio station WCCO. Other popular 1942 versions of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ were recorded by Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt, and, most notably, by movie cowboy Gene Autry before his induction into the US Army.”

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