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View Full Version : Why, oh why, must they do that to every 1920s song!?



Total Ukphoria
02-27-2011, 05:46 AM
I love songs from the 1920s! But why does every recording artist seem to leave out the verses and only record ONLY the chorus?:( Many times the charm and full meaning of the song is lost and lots of the time the whole songs feels..... diminished. Props to Ukester Brown for taking the time to do these songs justice and include the verses!

Here's his page::D

http://www.ukesterbrown.com/

southcoastukes
02-27-2011, 06:00 AM
Totally agree. Listen to "When You're Smiling". Happy song, right? Not when you hear the intro. That sets the table for one of the most poignant, bittersweet, depression era lyrics ever written. Leaving it out turns the song to pablum.

ukulelecowboy
02-27-2011, 06:41 AM
I agree completely. In fact, the jazz and swing standards that we perform all have the original intros and verses because we approach the performance historically. We might even mention to the audience the significance of the original intro, etc.. A good example is the intro to White Christmas, which is significant because it set the tone for how Berlin felt about missing NYC at Christmas time.

The reason why the intros and versus are left out is a practical one. The standard lead sheet can be read and performed by a competent musician who might be sitting in on a gig. Intros and versus simply complicate the issue because they tend to have variables in chord progressions, etc.

okie dokie
02-27-2011, 08:20 AM
Try Leon Redbone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC5uyackyLA&feature=related

pdxuke
02-27-2011, 08:23 AM
Yes, I thin the intros are so important--like the preface to the story. Can you imagine BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME without the intro?

I just worked up BROADWAY MELODY for fun, and I had the best time with the intro. It sets up the bouncy tone of the rest of it.

ksiegel
02-27-2011, 11:33 AM
Yes, I thin the intros are so important--like the preface to the story. Can you imagine BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME without the intro?

Actually, I can - because I never heard the intro until this year, when I was trying to play it, so went searching for different versions, both audio and printed.

There are a lot of songs - Me and My Shadow, Hello My Baby, and I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire among them - that have intros radically different from the body of the song. Musicians including Leon Redbone and Michael Cooney have made a point of including these intros, and it makes a world of difference - especially to someone like me, who cannot read music. I can read and understand a chord chart/name, but if I don't hear the song, I can't sing or play it.

By the way, the Ink Spots never included the intro to "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" when they recorded it - and it was a fairly new song at the time.

joeybug
02-27-2011, 12:16 PM
I didn't even know that these songs had intros, so thanks for the info! You learn something new everyday!

clayton56
02-27-2011, 12:20 PM
that's right, most book collections don't have intros - you have to get the single sheet version to get it. Also, a lot of bands just want to jam, and the intros slow things down quite a bit.

Total Ukphoria
02-27-2011, 01:43 PM
Another trend I hear in these old songs is a very long intro before the singing starts. I think, as cllayton56 mentioned, that a lot of the old Jazz bands (which I love) used only the chorus of the song as an intro so that they could jam before the vocal portion of the song started- the verse simply "got in the way". But still, I MUCH prefer to hear those charming versus!

Just to name a very few with verses oft left out (and worth hearing)...
Bye bye blues,
Ain't she sweet,
Shine on harvest moon (thanks Redbone, who included the verse!),
April showers,
Carolina in the Morning,
Baby Face,
After You've gone,
Fit as a Fiddle,
Hello Ma Baby (as mentioned by someone else),....

the list goes on and on!

JoshFromTallGrassUkes
02-27-2011, 05:17 PM
The Chuck Sher songbooks usually have the full verse that most artists leave out.

janeray1940
02-27-2011, 05:29 PM
A great example of this is Bye Bye Blackbird- I finally did dig up a couple of old recordings that included the verse, but most just begin with the chorus.

Another one is Lovely Hula Hands- the Jim Beloff music for this had an opening verse that nobody seems to have recorded.

BobN
02-28-2011, 08:23 AM
It drives me crazy too.


Red, red robin:


WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN COMES BOB, BOB, BOBBIN' ALONG
Written by Harry Woods, 1926
Recorded by Al Jolson

1. I heard a robin this mornin'. I'm feelin' happy today.
Gonna pack my cares in a whistle. Gonna blow them all away.
What if I've been unlucky? Really, I ain't got a thing. [or "I haven't a thing"]
There's a time I always feel happy, as happy as a king.

CHORUS: When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along, along,
There'll be no more sobbin' when he starts throbbin' his old sweet song.
Oh, wake up, wake up, you sleepy head.
Get up, get up, get out of bed.
Cheer up, cheer up, the sun is red.
Live, love, laugh and be happy.
What if I've been blue? Now I'm walking through fields of flowers.
Rain may glisten, but still I listen for hours and hours.
I'm just a kid again, doing what I did again, singin' a song,
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along.

2. Though rain may fall in the evening, and rain may fall at night,
When the robin sings in the morning, I know the sun is bright.
I keep still when I hear him singing up in a tree,
For the little angel of gladness brings happiness to me.

UKISOCIETY
02-28-2011, 08:36 AM
On the other hand, "Nagasaki" is a better song without the opening verse. Many songs benefit from losing the intro.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s9Mlv1WkEU

BobN
02-28-2011, 08:57 AM
On the other hand, "Nagasaki" is a better song without the opening verse. Many songs benefit from losing the intro.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s9Mlv1WkEU

Good point. I never cared that much for the film version of Jeeves & Wooster.
It is OK, but I like the P.G. Wodehouse books.

In one story, I remember reading about Jeeves quitting after being driven to the brink of insanitary due to a banjo ukulele.

Jnobianchi
02-28-2011, 09:10 AM
that's right. He quits because of Bertie's incessant playing of a banjolele. My wife keeps quoting that passage to me...so I play when she isn't home.

I couldn't agree more about the introductions and verses of songs. I always play intro, verse, refrain, 2nd verse, refrain. If I can find alternate verses, I want to get them, too. When I played "'Taint to Sin to Take Off Your Skin and Dance around in Your Bones" by Walter Donaldson, I had three verses to play and an alternate refrain. If they're good and important to the song, use 'em I say.

Ukuleleblues
02-28-2011, 09:14 AM
I'd always heard they dropped the intros due to the limits of the 78 rpm records of the era. I have no idea if that is true or not.

Jnobianchi
02-28-2011, 09:20 AM
No - most 78s have the intros, verses and two or three run throughs of the refrain. You can get a several minutes out of a 78; they can be twice as long as a 45. It probably has more to do with the reasons outlined above about the complexity of the verses; different melodic line, and frequently they're in a different key, often the relative major or minor.

wheelgunner
02-28-2011, 10:21 AM
I love songs from the 1920s! But why does every recording artist seem to leave out the verses and only record ONLY the chorus?:( Many times the charm and full meaning of the song is lost and lots of the time the whole songs feels..... diminished. Props to Ukester Brown for taking the time to do these songs justice and include the verses!

Here's his page::D

http://www.ukesterbrown.com/

One of the great things about Ukester Browns site is that he not only has the chord sheet including the verses for some of these great old songs but also a link to a youtube video so you can hear how it's supposed to go.

ADD
02-28-2011, 12:43 PM
Great site. Spent over an hour there, downloading, printing music then watching video and trying to play along.

Total Ukphoria
02-28-2011, 02:51 PM
I've spent a lot of time at ukester Brown's site myself- that's really where I first noticed the verses to many of the songs I mentioned. Thanks to all who have added more songs for me to check out!

You know, If Michigan J. Frog had bothered to take the time to sing the verses, we might not be in this mess right now! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HAjhtPZGDY

Howlin Hobbit
03-03-2011, 08:46 AM
Another trend I hear in these old songs is a very long intro before the singing starts. I think, as cllayton56 mentioned, that a lot of the old Jazz bands (which I love) used only the chorus of the song as an intro so that they could jam before the vocal portion of the song started- the verse simply "got in the way". But still, I MUCH prefer to hear those charming versus!

I'd always heard they dropped the intros due to the limits of the 78 rpm records of the era. I have no idea if that is true or not.
There's a lot of truth in that. The jazz bands were more interested in a chance to let their soloists stretch out. Also recall that many of these tunes were written for Broadway shows. The intro verses allowed the lead singer to "come out of the crowd" onstage by proceeding downstage (and thus, become the focus of attention for the "choruses," which were often the peppier bits.)


On the other hand, "Nagasaki" is a better song without the opening verse. Many songs benefit from losing the intro.
As I'm currently learning the intro to this one, I must disagree. These fine Dutch gentlemen should help you to see the light. Unlike "House" in your video, they don't have the stick-up-the-bum syndrome and do a fine job.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJdA-fAZJsc

cheekmeat
03-03-2011, 09:26 AM
R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Seranaders did those tin-pan-alley songs right.
Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys do a mighty fine job playing the enirety of songs from that era (a couple of the Parlor Boys were also Seranaders).
On one of her CD's that I recently bought, they do Ballin' the Jack. My grandmother choreographed my little sister dancing and singing some parts of the song. It was adorable. Then hearing the whole song just this year, I was apalled. That song is FILTHY!

Jnobianchi
03-03-2011, 04:24 PM
Yes - utterly filthy. Many songs from then were, thank goodness. :)

pdxuke
03-03-2011, 04:40 PM
Yes - utterly filthy. Many songs from then were, thank goodness. :)

Amen to that!