Celebrating the Songs of 1924
The Songs of 1924? How do we know?
We love putting together our annual variety show, which we always premiere at St Mary’s in Hay and then take to venues around the UK. We choose a year from between the wars – strictly speaking 1918 to 1939 – and research all the popular songs published during that year, or as many as we can find anyway!
And that’s the crucial word: ‘published.’ We try very hard to stick to that criteria, because if we looked at record releases from the year, we’d soon run into trouble with the blurred edges. Versions of some of these songs have been recorded again and again on different dates by various artists. The more popular the song, the more people have recorded cover versions. It was ever thus.
So if we don’t do our research properly we can sometimes get tripped up. We might completely fall in love with a song that YouTube (or Martin‘s ancient book of popular songs) has declared was written in our chosen year and even spend time rehearsing it, only to find out that it was actually written before the first record release.
Not the end of the world, I hear you cry, but it is to the buffs, and the classic jazz world abounds with buffs. So for their sake we try to be authentic. When we say we’re doing the songs of 1924, that’s what we are committed to provide.
The best way to find out, of course, is to check out the original song sheet. Most of them can be found online. This year, for instance, we are putting together our 1924 show. That was a great year for Gershwin, Porter, Irving Berlin and Fats Waller. Here’s one made famous by Isham Jones.
Take a look inside the front cover:
If you look carefully at the bottom of the page, Dear Reader, you can see the copyright date is 1924. So there you have it. When you come to the concert (September 4th 2021) sit back, enjoy the wonderful music and rest comfortably in the knowledge that we fuss over these details so that you don’t have to.
*The collage banner at the top of this post was created by a friend who also loves the music of the 1920s. The photo included in the collage is the sheet music cover of It Had To Be You, originally found online at Flickr under Creative Commons licence
Vintage Jazz Singer and Author