December 12, 2013

Grant Clarke

Grant Clarke (USA)

Born in Akron Ohio on May 14, 1891, Grant Clarke moved, as a young man, to New York City, where he worked as an actor and staff-writer for various comedians. Working as a Tin Pan Alley composer, he contributed to music to films as different as The Jazz Singer, Weary River, On with the Show, and Is Everybody Happy? from 1927-1929. Later he wrote lyrics to the show Dixie to Broadway and contributed to the 1921 Ziegfeld Follies.
     With numerous composers such as George W. Meyer, Harrk Askst, James V. Monaco, Al Piantadosi, Fred Fisher, Harry Warren, Arthur Johnston, James Hanley, Lewis F. Muir, and Milton Ager, Clark created several memorable American musical songs, including “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” sung by Bob Roberts, The Tune Wranglers and even The Chipmunks; “He’d Have to Get Under,” sung by Al Jolson and Billy Murray; “Am I Blue,” sung first by Ethel Waters in 1929, and later performed by Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and numerous others;  and Fanny Brice’s signature song, “Second Hand Rose,” later performed by Barbra Streisand.  
      He died in California on May 16, 1931.

Ragtime Cowboy Joe
As with many popular songs of the era, the verse is often omitted: the refrain's lyrics vary somewhat depending on the performer.
Out in Arizona
Where the bad men are,
And the only friend to guide you
Is an evening star,
The roughest and the toughest
Man by far
Is Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
He got his name from singin'
To the cows and sheep
They say that every night
He sings the herd to sleep
In a basso voice
So rich and deep,
A-croonin' soft and low.
He always sings
Raggy music to the cattle
As he swings
Back and forward in the saddle
On a horse
That's a syncopated gaiter
There's-a such a funny meter
To the roar of his repeater.
How they run
When they hear his gun
Because the Western folks all know
He's a high-falutin', rootin', shootin',
Son of a gun from Arizona,
Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
Dressed up ev'ry Sunday
In his Sunday clothes
He beats it to the village
Where he always goes
And ev'ry single gal
In town is Joe's
'Cause he's a ragtime bear.
When he starts a-spieling
On the dance hall floor
No one but a lunatic
Would start a war
Because the wise men know
His forty-four
Would make them dance for fair.

(composers Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams, 1912)

He’d Have to Get Under—Get Out and Get Under (To Fix Up His Automobile

He'd have to get under—get out and get under—to fix his little machine
He was just dying to cuddle his queen
But ev'ry minute
When he'd begin it
He'd have to get under—get out and get under—then he'd get back at the wheel
A dozen times they'd start to hug and kiss
And then the darned old engine, it would miss
And then he'd have to get under—get out and get under—and fix up his automobile.

(lyrics written with Edgar Leslie, composer Maurice Abrahams, 1913)

Second Hand Rose

Father has a business, strictly second hand.
Ev'rything from toothpicks, to a baby grand.
Stuff in our apartment, comes from Father's store,
Even things I'm wearing, someone wore before.
It's no wonder that I feel abused.
I never have a thing that ain't been used.

I'm wearing second hand hats, second hand clothes,
That's why they call me second hand Rose.
Even our piano in the parlor,
Father bought for ten cents on the dollar.
Second hand pearls, I'm wearing second hand curls,
I never got a single thing that's new.
Even Jake the plumber, he's the man I adore,
Had the nerve to tell me he's been married before.
Everyone knows that I'm just second hand Rose,
From second avenue.

(composer James Hanley, 1921)

For a tape of Fanny Brice's version of this song, click here:

Am I Blue

Am I blue, am I blue
Ain't these tears in my eyes telling you
Am I blue, you'd be too
If each plan with your man done fell through

Was a time I was his only one
But now I'm the sad and lonely one, lonely
Was I gay till today
Now he's gone and we're through, am I blue

Was I gay till today
Now he's gone and we're through, am I blue
Oh he's gone, he left me, am I blue

(composer Harry Askt, 1929)

for a performance by Billie Holliday of "Am I Blue," go here:

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