Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1930s

Baby, Please Don’t Go

First recorded by Big Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers (1935).
Also recorded by Muddy Waters (1953), Mose Allison (1960), Georgia Fame (1963).
Hit versions by The Orioles (R&B #8 1952), Them (US #102/UK #10 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ is a blues song which has been called ‘one of the most played, most arranged, and most rearranged pieces in blues history’ by music historian Gerard Herzhaft. Delta blues musician Big Joe Williams popularized it with several versions beginning in 1935.

“The song’s roots have been traced back to nineteenth-century slave songs, dealing with themes of bondage and imprisonment. In 1952, a doo-wop version by The Orioles reached the R&B Top 10 (an early 45 rpm issue available only on red vinyl); Muddy Waters’ 1953 recording recast the song as an electric Chicago Blues ensemble piece, influencing many subsequent renditions.

Night and Day

First recorded by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra with Fred Astaire (1932).
Hit versions by Fred Astaire (US #1 1932), Eddie Duchin (US #2 1933), Frank Sinatra (US #15 1943).

From the wiki: “‘Night and Day’ was written in 1932 by Cole Porter for the 1932 musical play Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter’s most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists.

“It was Fred Astaire who first introduced ‘Night and Day’ on stage. It would be Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (with an uncredited performance by Astaire) who released the first recording of ‘Night and Day’, on November 22, 1932. Astaire reprised ‘Night and Day’ in the 1934 motion picture production of the show, retitled The Gay Divorcee.

“Frank Sinatra recorded the song at least five times – it became one of his signature pieces – including his first solo session in 1942 (it was after Harry James heard a then-unknown Sinatra sing ‘Night and Day’, he signed him), released in 1943, and again in 1947 – both recordings arranged by Alex Stordahl, accounting for their similarity; with Nelson Riddle in 1956 for A Swingin’ Affair!; with Don Costa in 1961 for Sinatra and Strings; and even a disco version arranged by Joe Beck in 1977.”

Perfidia

First recorded by Lupita Palomera with Lira de San Cristobal (1937).
Hit versions by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (US #3 1941), The Four Aces (US #7 1952), The Ventures (US #15/UK #4 1960).
Also recorded by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1941), Linda Ronstadt (1992).

From the wiki: “‘Perfidia’ (Spanish for ‘perfidy’, as in faithlessness, treachery or betrayal) was written by Alberto Domínguez about love and betrayal, and first recorded (in Spanish) in 1937 by Lupita Palomera. Other hit versions were recorded by Xavier Cugat (1941), the Four Aces (1952) and the Ventures (1960).

“Linda Ronstadt’s 1992 recording of the song in English with a Spanish introduction was used in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings. Ronstadt also recorded the song in Spanish for her 1992 album Frenesí. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards, in 1993, her español version received a nomination for Tropical Song of the Year.

If You Wanna Be Happy

Based on “Marry an Ugly Woman” by Roaring Lion (1934).
Also recorded (as “From a Logical Point of View”) by Robert Mitchum (1957).
Hit version by Jimmy Soul (US #1/R&B #1 1962 |UK #39 1963).

From the wiki: “‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ is based on the song ‘Marry an Ugly Woman’ by the Calypso artist Roaring Lion, from Trinidad, first recorded in 1934. Robert Mitchum did a cover version of ‘Ugly Woman’ on Calypso — Is Like So…! titled ‘From a Logical Point of View’ (1957).

“Jimmy Soul’s ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ was adapted by Joseph Royster, Carmella Guida and Frank Guida (‘Quarter to Three’) and recorded by Soul in 1962, topping both the Pop and R&B charts in the US.”

Sloop John B.

First recorded (as “Histe Up the John B.”) by Cleveland Simmons Group (1935).
First popular version recorded (as “The Wreck of the John B.”) by The Weavers (1950).
Also recorded by Blind Blake Higgs (1952), The Kingston Trio (1958), Johnny Cash (1959), Jimmie Rodgers (1960), Dick Dale & His Del-Tones (1962).
Hit version (titled “The Sloop John B.”) by The Beach Boys (US #3/UK #2 1966).

From the wiki: “According to Blind Blake Higgs, the Bahamanian calypso entertainer, the John B had been a sponger boat that one day went under. That’s not so unusual, all thing considered. So, what made this tragedy so special? One possible explanation is the name of the vessel: to illiterate ears, ‘John B’ sounds like ‘Zombie’. So, when said sloop vanished with no one returning, that’s the stuff where legends are made of.

“The popularity of the song triggered interest in the wreck’s whereabouts. The hull was found and rescued from under the sands of Governor’s Harbor in 1926. John T. McCutcheon, philosopher and cartoonist on holiday with his wife in the West Indies at that time, learned the song and brought the song to New York where poet Carl Sandburg collected it for his songbook The American Songbag (1927).

My Girl’s Pussy

Written and first recorded (as “Pussy”) by Harry Roy & His Bat Club Boys (1931).
Also recorded by R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders (1978).

From the wiki: “Harry Roy was born Harry Lipman in Stamford Hill, London, England, and began the study of the clarinet and alto saxophone at the age of 16. He and his brother Sidney formed a band which they called The Darnswells, with Harry on saxophone and clarinet and Sidney on piano. During the 1920s they performed in several prestige venues such as the Alhambra and the London Coliseum, under names such as The Original Lyrical Five and The Original Crichton Lyricals. They spent three years at the Café de Paris, and toured South Africa, Australia and Germany.

“By the early 1930s, Harry Roy was fronting the band under his own name, and broadcasting from the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel. In 1931 he wrote and sang ‘My Girl’s Pussy’, which has since been the subject of many cover versions and remakes, including a novelty 78-rpm 10-inch single released in 1980 by R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders (after its 1978 appearance on R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders No. 3 long-play album).”

House of the Rising Sun

First recorded (as “Rising Sun Blues”) by Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster (1933).
Also recorded by Woody Guthrie (1941), Lead Belly (1944 |1948), Josh White (1947), Glenn Yarbrough (1957), Pete Seeger (1958), Andy Griffith (1959), Miriam Makeba (1960).
Hit versions by The Animals (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/AUS #2/GER #10/SWE #4 1964), Frijid Pink (US #7/UK #4 1970).

From the wiki: “Like many classic folk ballads, the authorship of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is uncertain. Musicologists say that it is based on the tradition of broadside ballads such as The Unfortunate Rake of the 18th century and that English emigrants took the song to America where it was adapted to its later New Orleans setting. Alan Price of The Animals has even claimed that the song was originally a sixteenth-century English folk song about a Soho brothel.

In the Mood

First recorded by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra (1938).
Based on “Tar Paper Stomp” by Wingy Manone (1930).
Hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Ernie Fields & His Orchestra (US #4/R&B #7/UK #14 1959), Ray Stevens (US #40/C&W #39/UK #31 1977).

From the wiki: “‘In The Mood’ was arranged by Joe Garland and Andy Razaf based on a pre-existing melody: The main theme previously appeared under the title of ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ credited to jazz trumpeter/bandleader Wingy Manone. Manone recorded ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ in 1930 but because the song was not formally registered for copyright, it meant that the melody could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear. A story says that after ‘In the Mood’ became a hit, Manone was paid by Miller and his record company not to contest the copyright.

The original recording of ‘In The Mood’ was made by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra in 1938, with songwriter Garland participating. Popular thought is that the melody had already become popular with Harlem bands (e.g. at the Savoy Ballroom) before being written down by Garland. Before offering it to Glenn Miller, Garland sold the tune to Artie Shaw, who could not record it because the original arrangement was too long.

As Time Goes By

First recorded by Rudy Vallee (1931 |US #1 1942).
Popular version by Dooley Wilson & Elliot Carpenter from Casablanca (1942).
Other hit versions by Jacques Renard (1931 |US #3 1942), Dooley Wilson (1943 |UK #15/AUS #86 1978).

From the wiki: “Herman Hupfeld wrote ‘As Time Goes By’ for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody’s Welcome. In the original show, it was sung by Frances Williams. It was recorded that year by several artists, including Rudy Vallée; also an orchestral recording by Jacques Renard. Neither recording had made a great impact in 1931.

“‘As Time Goes By’ was re-introduced in 1942 in the film Casablanca, sung by Dooley Wilson accompanied by pianist Jean Plummer and heard throughout the film as a leitmotif. (Wilson was a professional drummer by trade so was forced to mime his piano playing in the film to a recording, likely by studio musician Plummer.) However, Wilson was unable to record a commercial release of the song at the time due to a musicians’ strike, leading Brunswick to reissue the Jacques Renard’s 1931 instrumental recording; Victor also re-issued Vallée’s 1931 vocal recording, giving Vallee a #1 hit and Renard a #3 hit in 1942.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

First performed by Eddie Cantor (1934).
First recorded by Harry Reser & His Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Perry Como (1946), The Four Seasons (US #23 1963), The Jackson 5 (1970), Bruce Springsteen (1975).

From the wiki: “‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and first performed on Eddie Cantor’s radio variety show, The Chase and Sanborn How on NBC Radio, in November 1934. Indicative of his effect on the mass audience, Cantor had agreed to introduce the new song, that other well-known artists had rejected as being ‘silly’ and ‘childish’. The song, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, became an immediate hit; the publisher had orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music (the measure in those days of a song’s popularity) the next day; over 400,000 copies of the sheet music were sold by Christmas.

“The earliest-known recorded version of the song was by banjoist Harry Reser and his band. It, too, became an instant hit with orders of more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours. Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters recorded a popular wartime version in 1943. But, it was the Four Seasons who first charted the song on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #23 in 1963. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band recorded a live version in 1975 that was bootlegged to Rock radio stations until it saw its first release in 1982 as part of the Sesame Street compilation album In Harmony 2.”

Christmas Night in Harlem

First recorded by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1934).
Also recorded The Raymond Scott Quintette (instrumental, 1939).
Popular version by Louis Armstrong & The Benny Carter Orchestra (1955).

From the wiki: “‘Christmas Night in Harlem’ was written in 1934 by Raymond Scott, and the song was first recorded by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra the same year. ‘Christmas Night in Harlem’ has been covered by Perry Como, Benny Carter, Johnny Mercer, Banu Gibson, The Beau Hunks, Clarence Williams, Paul Whiteman, Maria Muldaur, and Jack Teagarden but the most celebrated recording was made by Louis Armstrong & The Benny Carter Orchestra.

Cotton Fields

Written and first recorded by Lead Belly (1940).
Also recorded by Odetta (1954), Harry Belafonte (1958).
Hit versions by The Highwaymen (US #13 1961), The Beach Boys (UK #5 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Cotton Fields’ was written by Blues musician Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, who made the first recording of the song in 1940. ‘Cotton Fields’ was introduced into the canon of Folk music via its inclusion on the 1954 album release Odetta & Larry which comprised performances by Odetta and accompanist Larry Mohr at the Tin Angel nightclub in San Francisco. The song’s profile was boosted via its recording by Harry Belafonte first on his 1958 albums Belafonte Sings the Blues and Belafonte at Carnegie Hall. (Belafonte had learned ‘Cotton Fields’ from Odetta and been singing it in concert as early as 1955.) The song entered Pop culture with the #13 hit recording in 1961 by The Highwaymen. The Beach Boys reached the UK Top 5 with a 1968 recording, released as a single in 1970, of ‘Cotton Fields’.”

(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow

First released by The Larry Clinton Orchestra feat. Bea Wain (US #10 1939).
Other hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Judy Garland (US #5 1939), Bob Crosby & His Orchestra (US #2 1939), The Demensions (US #16 1960), Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells (R&B #20 1966), Eva Cassidy (UK #42 2001), Cliff Richard (UK #11 2001), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1993; released US #22 2002 |UK #68 2007 |GER #1 2010).

From the wiki: “‘Over the Rainbow’ (often referred to as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’) is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad, with music by Harold Arlen (‘Stormy Weather‘, ‘Blues in the Night‘) and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. Arlen came up with the melody while sitting in his car in front of the original Schwab’s Drug Store in Hollywood. Harburg hated it at first because he thought the tempo was too slow. After Arlen consulted with his friend, Ira Gershwin, he sped up the tempo and Harburg came up with the lyrics. A lot of effort went into the first line. Ideas that didn’t make the cut included ‘I’ll go over the rainbow’ and ‘Someday over the rainbow’.

Jeepers Creepers

First performed by Louis Armstrong (1938).
First recorded by Ethel Waters (1938).
Hit versions by Al Donahue & His Orchestra (US #1 1938), Larry Clinton & His Orchestra (US #12 1938), Louis Armstrong (US #12 1939).

From the wiki: “‘Jeepers Creepers’ was written by Harry Warren, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer (Mercer claims to have first heard the expression from Henry Fonda), for the 1938 Warner Brothers movie Going Places. Louis Armstrong appears in the part of Gabriel, the trainer of a race horse named Jeepers Creepers. Jeepers Creepers is a very wild horse and can only be soothed enough to let someone ride him when Gabriel plays the song ‘Jeepers Creepers’ on his trumpet or sings it to him. Warren and Mercer would share an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in 1939.

I Got Rhythm

First recorded by Fred Rich & His Orchestra (1930).
Hit versions by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), Ethel Waters (US #17 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #17 1932), The Happenings (US #3/UK #28 1967).

From the wiki: “‘I Got Rhythm’ was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and first published in 1930. It has since become a Jazz standard; its chord progression, known as the ‘rhythm changes’, is the foundation for other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker’s & Dizzy Gillespie’s Bebop standard ‘Anthropology (Thrivin’ From a Riff)’. ‘I Got Rhythm’ was first performed in the musical Girl Crazy. Ethel Merman sang the song in the original Broadway production, and Broadway lore holds that George Gershwin, after seeing Merman’s opening reviews, warned her never to take a singing lesson. A complete list of notable singers who have recorded ‘I Got Rhythm’ would take up several pages. The most popular versions are those by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), and The Happenings (#3 on the US charts in 1967). A version of the song, set to a Disco beat, was re-recorded by Ethel Merman for her Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979.

The Way You Look Tonight

First performed by Fred Astaire (1936).
First commercial release by Bing Crosby & Dixie Lee (1936).
Also recorded by Billie Holiday (1936), The Jaguars (1956).
Hit versions by Fred Astaire (US #1 1936), The Lettermen (US #13/UK #36 1961).

From the wiki: “‘The Way You Look Tonight’ was written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, who later remarked, ‘The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The song was’featured in the film Swing Time, first performed by Fred Astaire, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.

” ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ would be first released commercially in 1936 as a duet between Bing Crosby and his then-wife Dixie Lee. Fred Astaire followed up with his 78 rpm recording on the Brunswick label, backed by the Johnny Green Orchestra, that would top the Hit Parade.

The Wild Side of Life

Inspired by “Thrills That I Can’t Forget” by ‘John Ferguson’ (1925).
Inspired by “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes” by The Carter Family (1929).
Inspired by “Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff (1936).
First recorded (as “Wild Side of Life”) by Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters (1951).
Hit versions by Hank Thompson (C&W #1 1952), Burl Ives & Grady Martin & His Slew Foot Five (US #30/C&W #6 1952), Tommy Quickly & The Remo 4 (UK #33 1964), Freddy Fender (C&W #13 1976), Status Quo (UK #9 1976).

From the wiki: “‘The Wild Side of Life’ carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in ‘Thrills That I Can’t Forget’ (recorded by Welby Toomey, using the pseudonym ‘John Ferguson’ in 1925), ‘I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes’ (by the Carter Family in 1929), and ‘Great Speckled Bird’ (by Roy Acuff in 1936). That, along with the song’s story of a woman shedding her role as domestic provider to follow the night life, combined to become one of the most famous country songs of the early 1950s when recorded as ‘Wild Side of Life’, first by Jimmie Heap & the Melodie Masters and, then, a #1 hit by Hank Thompson.

“According to Country music historian Bill Malone, ‘Wild Side’ co-writer William Warren was inspired to create the song after his experiences with a young woman he met when he was younger — a honky-tonk angel, as it were — who ‘found the glitter of the gay night life too hard to resist.’

What a Difference a Day Makes

Originally recorded (in Spanish as “Cuando vuelva a tu lado”) by Maria Grever (1934).
First recorded in English (as “What a Diff’rence a Day Made”) by Jimmie Ague (1934).
Also recorded by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra (1934).
Hit versions by The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (US #5 1934), Andy Russell (US #15 1944), Dinah Washington (US #8/R&B #1 1959), Esther Phillips (US #20/R&B #10/DISCO #2/UK #6 1975), Bobby Lewis (C&W #81 1977).

From the wiki: “‘What a Diff’rence a Day Made’ is a popular song originally written in Spanish by María Grever, a Mexican songwriter, in 1934 and originallly titled ‘Cuando vuelva a tu lado’ (‘When I Return to Your Side’). The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams.

“The earliest English-language renditions of the song were recorded in 1934 by Jimmie Ague, and also by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra the same year. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra charted first with the song, in 1934, featuring vocals by Bob Crosby. Andy Russell, a Mexican-American singer, recorded a bilingual version of the song in 1944 that reached #15 on the Hit Parade chart.

“Dinah Washington’s 1959 Billboard Top-20 (and #1 R&B) recording earned her the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance. Esther Phillips reached into the UK Top 10 with her disco-fied recording.”

Try a Little Tenderness

First recorded by Ray Noble Orchestra (1932).
Hit versions by Ruth Etting (US #16 1933), Ted Lewis & His Band (US #6 1933), Aretha Franklin (US #100 1962), Otis Redding (US #25/R&B #4/UK #26 1966), Three Dog Night (US #29 1969).
Also recorded by Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Sam Cooke (1964), Tom Jones (1969).
Also performed by The Commitments (1991), Paul Giamatti & Andre Braugher (2000).

From the wiki: “‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is a song written by Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, a British songwriting team who often collaborated with a third composer – in this case the American, Harry Woods. The song was first recorded on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing) followed in early 1933 by Ruth Etting’s first charting version. The song quickly became a standard. Subsequent productions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Frankie Laine, Earl Grant, Nina Simone, Etta James and others – including a discovery by Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun: Little Miss Cornshucks.

Deep Purple

First recorded (as an instrumental) by Paul Whiteman & His Concert Orchestra (1934).
Hit vocal versions Larry Clinton & His Orchestra with Bea Wain (US #1 1939), Artie Shaw with Helen Forrest (US #17 1939), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #18/UK #30 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #1/UK #17 1963), Donny & Marie Osmond (US #14/UK #25 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Deep Purple’ was the biggest hit written by pianist Peter DeRose, who broadcast from 1923 to 1939 with May Singhi as ‘The Sweethearts of the Air’ on the NBC radio network. ‘Deep Purple’ was first published in 1933 as a piano composition. The following year, Paul Whiteman had ‘Deep Purple’ scored for his suave orchestra that was ‘making a lady out of jazz’ and the song became so popular in sheet music sales that Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938.

Begin the Beguine

First performed by Charles Walters & June Knight from Jubilee (1935).
First commercial release by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (1935).
Hit version by The Artie Shaw Orchestra (US #3 1938).
Also recorded by Josephine Baker (1936), Eddie Heywood (1944)

From the wiki: “‘Begin the Beguine’ is a song written by Cole Porter, who first witnessed the beguine as a dance in Paris. He later composed the song during a 1935 Pacific cruise aboard Cunard’s ocean liner Franconia. The song was first introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee, produced at the Imperial Theatre in New York City in October 1935. Knight and Charles Walters would later release a recorded version for the Victor Records label.

The Lady is a Tramp

First popular recording by Tommy Dorsey & His Clambake 7 with Edythe Wright (1937).
Hit/popular versions by Sophie Tucker (US #19 1937), Frank Sinatra (1957), Ella Fitzgerald (1957), Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (US #121/UK #188/BEL #21/JPN #33 2011).
Also recorded by Midge Williams & Her Jazz Jesters (1937), Carl Perkins (1960), Alice Cooper (1974).
Also recorded (as “Maureen is a Champ”) by Frank Sinatra (1968).

From the wiki: “‘The Lady is a Tramp’ was a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenzo Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song is a spoof of New York high society and its strict etiquette (the first line of the verse is ‘I get too hungry for dinner at eight…’). Early recordings from 1937 include one by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra (featuring Edythe Wright on vocals), Midge Williams and Her Jazz Jesters, and Sophie Tucker.

The Clapping Song

Based on “Little Rubber Dolly” by The Light Crust Doughboys (c. 1935).
Also recorded (as “Rubber Dolly”) by Bill Parsons & His Orchestra (1958).
Hit versions by Shirley Ellis (US #8/UK #6 1965), The Belle Stars (UK #11 1982), Pia Zadora (US #36 1983).

From the wiki: “‘The Clapping Song’ was written by Lincoln Chase and Shirley Ellis, with lyrics borrowed from the song ‘Little Rubber Dolly’, a 1930s song first recorded by Texas Swing band The Light Crust Doughboys.

“Ellis was an American singer and songwriter of West Indian origin best known for her 1963 novelty hit ‘The Name Game’. Ellis was originally in the group The Metronomes and her solo hits were written by her and her manager, record producer, and songwriting partner, Lincoln Chase.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

First performed (on Broadway) and recorded by Harry Richman (US #1 1930).
Other hit versions by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (US #20 1930), Clark Gable (1939), Fred Astaire (1946), Ella Fitzgerald (1958), Taco (US #4/CAN #5/SWE #1/NZ #1 1983).

From the wiki: “‘Puttin’ On the Ritz’ is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin and first introduced by Harry Richman in the musical Puttin’ On the Ritz (1930). The expression was inspired by the opulent Ritz Hotel. Another hit version was recorded in 1930 by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra.

“Clark Gable performed the song on film (Idiot’s Delight) in 1939, but the song was most-famously performed (with new lyrics) by Fred Astaire, with whom the song is particularly associated, in the 1946 film Blue Skies. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle teamed up in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974) to give the song a comedic spike.