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|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
Additions, comments, corrections,
contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
Walter Donaldson (1893-1947) was one of America’s most prolific tune-smiths. He
showed this talent at an early age. This son of a piano teacher often wrote songs
for plays put on by his Brooklyn, New York high school. One of his first jobs after
high school was as a song demonstrator for a music publisher. This, however,
didn’t last long. He was fired for writing his own songs while working.
He had some early success on his own in 1915-16, with tunes like Back Home in
Tennessee and You’d Never Know the Old Home Town of Mine. But then along
came World War I. During this period he entertained troops at U.S. Army camps
such as Camp Upton where he made the acquaintance of one Irving Berlin. In
1919, he went to work for Berlin’s publishing company, Irving Berlin Inc. It seems
that during this time Donaldson really blossomed. He worked for Berlin for nine
years and wrote a large number of big hits.
In 1928, Walter struck out on his own and formed the publishing company of
Donaldson, Douglas and Gumble where he began doing enough Hollywood film
work that after only one year he moved to Hollywood. Here, is where the greatest
body of his most well-known work found recognition in the movies.
Here are some tunes by Walter Donaldson that you might recognize:
-BORNEO- this “jungle” tune was written in 1928, while working at Irving Berlin’s
publishing company. C-melody saxophonist, Frankie Trambauer and His
Orchestra (with Bix Beiderbecke on cornet) recorded this tune for the Okeh label in
New York, 4/10/28.
-CAROLINA IN THE MORNING- written in 1922, with lyricist Gus Kahn, it was
used in the 1949 film Jolson Sings Again.
-MY BLUE HEAVEN – This 1927 tune was one of Donaldson’s personal favorites
and was also written during the time he worked for Irving Berlin Inc.
-YES SIR, THAT’S MY BABY – Donaldson, who also wrote “Little White Lies,”
wrote this one in 1925. It was popularized by Eddie Cantor and, later, used in the
film of the same name starring Donald O’Conner. Still later, in the 1951 film I’ll See
You in My Dreams, it was sung by Doris Day.
-YOU’RE DRIVIN’ ME CRAZY – While working in Hollywood in 1930, Donaldson
wrote the words and music to this one for the musical Smiles. It was recorded by
both the McKinneys Cotton Pickers and Guy Lombardo in 1930.
RIMSHOT: to fellow columnist Bert Thompson who provided the personnel for
last issue's "New Orleans Blues" by the Chris Barber Band: Pat Halcox(ct); Chris
Barber(tb); Monty Sunshine(cl); Lonnie Donegan(bj); Jim Bray(b); and Ron Bowden
-questions, comments, corrections, additions, suggestions to Bill Fuller% Earlyjas
or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
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