A ukulele player's look at jazz and popular songs of the early 20th Century



One of the joys of learning the ukulele is discovering the wonderful songs of long ago--the beautiful melodies and lyrics that deserve to be remembered and revived. Thankfully, vintage sheet music abounds on the internet, and so I've had a great time tracking down lots of the old songs, transcribing them to chord/lyric sheets--in a good key for my voice--and then learning them on the uke. If you would like to receive my chord/lyric sheet for any of the songs featured here, email me and I will be happy to share them.


Have a listen to Van and Schenk, a popular Vaudeville duo:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Crazy Words - Crazy Tune"

My inaugural post must be devoted to the novelty tune from which I took the name for this blog. It was written by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager, and published in 1927.
Throughout his career, Jack Yellen (1892-1991) wrote scores for many Broadway shows including What's in a Name, Rain or Shine, You Said It, George White's Scandals of 1935 and 1939, Boys and Girls Together, Sons o' Fun and Ziegfeld Follies of 1943. Yellen also worked as a screenwriter and lyricist for 20th Century Fox. His score credits include the films Road Show, King of Jazz, George White's Scandals (1934 and 1935), Happy Landing and Sing, Baby, Sing. Among Yellen's hit songs co-written with Milton Ager are "Ain't She Sweet", "Happy Days are Here Again" and "Hard-Hearted Hannah".
Milton Ager (1893-1979) had his first success in 1921 with "Nobody's Baby". By 1930 he had written songs such as "Who Cares?", "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas", and "I Wonder What's Become of Sally". In 1930, Ager moved to Hollywood and contributed to the film scores of Honky Tonk, King of Jazz, and Chasing Rainbows. Songs in these pictures include "Happy Feet", "A Bench in the Park" and "If I Didn't Care".

Ukulele Vaudevillian Johnny Marvin sings
"Crazy Words - Crazy Tune" in this recording on YouTube:
"There's a guy I'd like to kill;
If he doesn't stop I will.
Got a ukulele and a voice that's loud and shrill..."