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:

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Don't Let Your Love Go Wrong"

This upbeat 1934 tune features lyrics by George Whiting and Nat Schwartz, with music by J.C. Johnson. It is one of my favorite songs recorded by The Boswell Sisters, also in 1934. Whiting was one of the creators of the standard "My Blue Heaven". Other songs by these songwriters include "Believe it, Beloved", "Love and Kisses", and "You Stayed Away Too Long". Martha, Connee and Vet Boswell began recording in 1925, but they did not gain national attention until they began to appear on radio in 1930. They were extremely popular, and influenced performers that came along soon after, such as Ella Fitzgerald and The Andrews Sisters. The Boswells' career as a trio only lasted until 1936 when Martha and Vet left in favor of married life. Connee continued as a solo performer well into the 1950s. CDs of their recordings are easily available.

In my recording I used the sheet music as my primary guide rather than attempting to imitate the Boswells' innovative arrangement. Like the Boswells, I did omit the introductory verse, which includes these explanatory lyrics:

"In old Madrid I met a sweetie not very long ago,

And all we did was sign a treaty to love each other wherever we go.

It wasn't just a scrap of paper, and when I'm all alone

I call up Spain and sing again this sweet refrain over the telephone..."

For the second bridge, I did take the liberty of adding my own lyrics, inspired by a common practice of the Boswells. It can get boring returning to the bridge and keeping the same lyrics, or just whistling the melody, so for variety I sing:

"Remember how you love me now,

no matter who you find;

If you're wise, you'll close your eyes;

love is blind, but it can slip your mind..."

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