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Follow The Music

     Songbird is a musical in words, celebrating big band and gospel music from the 1940's. The songs of this era were directly inspired by the hope, longing, and heartache evoked by a world at war. Follow the music for a more detailed look at some of the key songs featured in The War Song Series.

Sentimental Journey

Les Brown and Doris Day

     This popular big band song captured the hearts of many soldiers coming home at the end of World War II. While Les Brown and His Band of Renown had been performing “Sentimental Journey” for some time, they were unable to record it until 1945, but the timing was perfect for returning soldiers. “Sentimental Journey” was Doris’s first number one hit and helped propel her very successful music and film career. 

The Jersey Bounce

Benny Goodman

     "Jersey Bounce" is a song written by Tiny Bradshaw, Eddie Johnson, and Bobby Plater with lyrics by Buddy Feyne, who used the nom de plume, Robert B. Wright (as this song was written during an ASCAP strike). It hit #1 in 1942 as an instrumental recorded by Benny Goodman and his orchestra and also charted that same year by Jimmy Dorsey (#9) and Shep Fields (#15). For more information on the song and it's place in Songbird, check out this post from the War Stories Blog: The Jersey Bounce.

I Won't Have to Cross Jordan Alone

Thomas Ramsey and Charles E. Durham

     Written By Thomas Ramsey and Charles E. Durham, this classic hymn has graced church hymnals for over 80 years since it's original copyright in 1934. Over the years, it has been recorded by numerous artists, such as Faron Young, Porter Wagner, Skeeter Davis, and, perhaps most famously, by The Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. For more info on the song and it's place in Songbird, check out this post from the War Stories Blog: I won't Have to Cross Jordan Alone.

Who Wouldn't Love You

Kay Kyser

     This song was a huge hit in 1942 for Kay Kyser. He was one of the most outrageous, over the top performers of the swing era. From the late 30's to the late 40's, he was the physical embodiment of the word success, with eleven #1 records and thirty-five top ten hits! He starred in seven feature films with such co-stars as Lucille Ball, John Barrymore, Karloff, Lugosi, and Lorre. Kyser kept his radio show, Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge, in the top ten for eleven years on NBC. Yet if you ask the average swing fan about him today, they'll likely reply, "Kay Kyser. Who's she?"

It's Been A Long, Long Time

Harry James & Kitty Kallen

     "It's Been A Long, Long Time" is a song that became a major hit at the end of World War II. The lyrics were written from the perspective of a person welcoming home his or her spouse or lover at the end of the war. The music was written by Jule Styne, and the lyrics were written by Sammy Cahn. A recording by Harry James with vocals by Kitty Kallen reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on November 24, 1945. An alternate version by Bing Crosby accompanied by The Les Paul Trio was also working its way up the charts. It replaced the James' version at No. 1 on December 8, 1945. Crosby's lasted a week at No. 1, ousted by Sammy Kaye's "Chickery Chick." The Harry James recording then returned to the top spot on December 22 for another week.

Waitin' On The Train To Come In

Peggy Lee

     Peggy Lee had several songs see commercial success while performing with "The Goodman Band" from 1941-1943. However, after marrying Goodman guitarist Dave Barbour, she decided to leave the music industry altogether. After just over a year of domestic life, Peggy Lee returned to music. First as part of an all-star jazz album and then in late 1945, Capitol Records signed Peggy Lee to a solo contract, and she hit the charts with her first song, "Waitin' for the Train to Come In." This wistful tune touched a responsive chord in many American women awaiting the return of their loved ones from the war. 

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