Thursday, March 08, 2012

This day in music - March 8, 1930: "Happy Days Are Here Again" by Ben Selvin and His Orchestra is at No. 1 on the charts

"Happy Days Are Here Again" is likely best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's successful 1932 presidential campaign and has, ever since, been associated with the Democratic Party.

It was copyrighted in 1929 by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). The song seems first to have been recorded by Leo Reisman and his Orchestra in 1929, with Lou Levin on vocals, and featured in a 1930 film called Chasing Rainbows.

Someone by the name of Ben Selvin recorded it in 1930 and had a number one hit with it. Although I am not sure, my guess is that these rankings would have been based on sheet music sales. If anyone has better information than that, let me know.

The interesting thing about Ben Selvin is that, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, he recorded more musical sides on 78-rpm discs that any another person. As the Wikipedia entry reports:

One reason for this prolific output is that he recorded for dozens of different labels during this high-growth time in the industry, using a different name (or slightly different name) for each label. Selvin's output has been estimated at 13,000 to 20,000 song titles.

Mr. Selvin lived from 1898 to 1980 and was a musician, bandleader, record producer, and innovator in recorded music. He was known as "The Dean of Recorded Music."

Anyway, back to the song: With the economy perhaps, hopefully, turning the corner, it's as good a time as any to dust off "Happy Days Are Here Again," much as the thought would pain our friends in the Republican Party, who dream of economic apocalypse, at least leading up to November.

Here it is by Ben Selvin & His Orchestra, expressing the hope of any sane person:

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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