Stories of Standards | "Everything Happens to Me"

May 12, 2017

Tune in to First Take with Lando and Chavis - weekdays from 6-9am MT - for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!

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The history of “Everything Happens to Me” (1941) by Matt Dennis and Thomas Adair started in December 1940 when composer Matt Dennis went to see his friend Jo Stafford performing with Tommy Dorsey at the Hollywood Palladium. Stafford introduced them, Dennis played some of his tunes and Dorsey offered to record them. Lyrics were needed; fortunately, Thomas Adair approached Matt Dennis at a nightclub soon afterwards and asked if he could write a song with him. Adair had already written the lyrics for “Will You Still Be Mine?” in 1940; Dennis then wrote the melody. “Everything Happens to Me” was the first of a dozen Dennis-Adair songs recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; Frank Sinatra was the first vocalist who recorded it.

Matt Dennis (1914-2002) came from a vaudeville family and played with Horace Heidt as a pianist/vocalist before joining Tommy Dorsey as composer and arranger. Having served four years in the Air Force during World War II, then briefly playing in the Glenn Miller Band, Dennis became the musical director for Dick Haymes’ radio show. He had a widely varied career in music, with nightclub appearances, several television programs including a season on NBC in 1955 and had written two tutorials for jazz piano.

Thomas Adair (1913-1988) moved from his home town of Newton, Kansas, to Los Angeles for college. While there he wrote for radio shows and contributed poetry to the “Saturday Evening Post”. He worked with Matt Dennis until he left for a Walt Disney project, Frontierland where he collaborated with Charles LaVere. Adair and George Bruns later scored the 1959 Disney film “Sleeping Beauty”. During the 1950s he was also writing extensively for television, and with James B. Allardice, wrote episodes for Hazel, My Three Sons, I Dream of Jeannie, Gomer Pyle, and The Munsters. Adair retired from writing after Allardice’s death in 1966.

Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, with the young singer Frank Sinatra