Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
Additions, comments, corrections,
contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
Harry Warren April 2009
Harry Warren was one of the most prolific of tin-pan-alley songwriters from the
20’s to the 50’s. While what he wrote was in a more “pop’ or “Broadway” vein,
many of his tunes found their way into one incarnation or another of jazz music.
His real name was Salvatore Guaragna and he was born, the eleventh of twelve
children, in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian immigrant parents in 1893. He taught
himself piano and, at 15, left school to play drums in a brass band. From there he
worked carnivals and went on to vaudeville theater until, during WWI, he
answered the Navy’s call.
When he got out, he tried his hand at songwriting and got a job with Stark and
Cowan Publishing as a staff pianist and song plugger. His first published success
was “Rose of the Rio Grande.”
In the early 30’s he wrote for Broadway shows before leaving for Hollywood in
1933, where he was hired to work with Al Dubin for Warner Brothers. Over the
rest of the 30’s he wrote 20 musicals with Al Dubin which included such tunes as:
“I Only Have Eyes for You,” and “September in the Rain,”
Three times a Harry Warren tune won the Academy Award for the best song in a
movie: “Lullaby of Broadway” (1935); “You’ll Never Know” (1941); and “On the
Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe” (1946).
In the 50’s he wrote his last big pop hit, “That’s Amore,” which was made famous
by singer Dean Martin. Here are some other Warren pieces:
LULU’S BACK IN TOWN – written in 1935, while he was working for Warner
Brothers for the film “Broadway Gondoliers,” starring Dick Powell, in which the
tune was introduced by the Mills Brothers. It was later popularized by Fats Waller.
NAGASAKI – written in 1928 and used in the 1933 movie “Barber Shop Blues”
performed by the Claude Hopkins Orchestra.
ONE SWEET LETTER FROM YOU – written in 1927. In the late 30’s a memorable
recording of this was made on the Victor label in Hollywood under Lionel
Hampton’s name. The “dream”sax section was made up of Coleman Hawkins,
Ben Webster, Benny Carter and Chu Berry – a bunch of imposters, as Eddie
Condon would say.
And some more well known Harry Warren tunes:
SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO
YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY
I FOUND A MILLION DOLLAR BABY IN A 5 AND 10 CENT STORE
CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO
RIMSHOT: to Earlyjas member Stan Ebin who, adding to the Feb.( “Venue”) In
Tune, tells us that the Woodside in Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” was
a hotel in Harlem; and that his “Roseland Shuffle” memorialized the famous
Roseland Ballroom in New York.
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization