Stories of Standards | Sometime's I'm Happy

Apr 1, 2017

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

"Sometimes I’m Happy” (1925), by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar, was first performed September 7, 1925, in the show “A Night Out”, which closed after two weeks. It was then performed in the musical “Hit the Deck!”, which opened 4/25/1927. This show was a hit and stayed up for 352 performances. Although the melody was first written for a 1924 show (“Mary Jane McKane”) with the title “Come On and Pet Me”, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, it was removed. The following year, while Youmans and Caesar were putting together music for “A Night Out”, Caesar suggested “Come On and Pet Me”, which Caesar had heard Youmans perform at a few parties. Youmans said he couldn’t remember it, but ex-girlfriend Grace Moore talked him into playing it. Caesar wrote the lyrics and within half an hour the new song “Sometimes I’m Happy” was completed.

Vincent Youmans (1898 - 1946) led a widely varied life; the son of a well-off hatter, he attended Yale University, was drafted into the Navy where John Phillip Sousa was bandmaster and encouraged his musical interests. In 1919 he was pianist for Victor Herbert rehearsals and wrote his first Broadway show in 1921 with Ira Gershwin. In 1925 with Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach he wrote “No, No, Nanette” which included the songs “I Want to Be Happy” and “Tea For Two”. He was forced into early retirement in 1934, having contracted tuberculosis. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1983.

When just a child Irving Caesar (1895-1996) bought his first piano for $5 and persuaded two men to carry it upstairs to the family’s tenement flat. He had learned to play it at the Music School Settlement, whose alumni included the Gershwin brothers and Jacob Javits. He served as a secretary on Henry Ford’s Peace Ship. He met George Gershwin at Remick’s, the music publisher; their first published song was “You-oo Just You” which was in the 1918 show “Hitchy-Koo”; their most famous was “Swanee” in 1919.  Caesar was a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and was on its board in the 1960s.

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