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:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

“My Bluebird’s Singing the Blues”

For the past few months I have let life’s daily demands get in the way of posting a new blog. Tonight, however, I’m jumping back in with a nod to one of my favorite songs of the 1930s. It was introduced by Baby Rose Marie in the 1933 Paramount picture, INTERNATIONAL HOUSE. Baby Rose (the future "Sally Rogers" on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) appears just long enough to sing the song, but she does so atop a grand piano in a musical interlude being broadcast on a television machine. You read that right: there‘s a television in a motion picture made in 1933. Of course, it’s a 1933 envisioning of what a television will look like once it’s invented, but the contraption is a central plot element. The stars of the flick are W.C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bela Lugosi and Rudy Vallee.
Ralph Rainger (1901-1942) worked on many film scores, and was responsible for well-known songs such as "Moanin' Low" and "Love in Bloom". His principal collaborator was composer lyricist Leo Robin (1900-1984). Together they became one of the leading film songwriting duos of the 1930s and early 1940s, writing over 50 hits, including the Oscar-winning "Thanks for the Memory". Robin's other contributions to American song include "Beyond the Blue Horizon" and "Prisoner of Love", with Broadway contributions such as GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, and THE GIRL IN PINK TIGHTS. Robin and Rainger worked together until Rainger's untimely death in a plane crash in 1942 near Palm Springs.
If you click on the title of this blog entry, you'll be taken to YouTube where you can see Baby Rose Marie performing this song. Below you can view my own take on it. As with all the songs profiled on my blog, the chord/lyric sheet for “My Bluebird’s Singing the Blues” can be yours just by sending me an email with your request: tims.email@yahoo.com


  1. just loved it Tim!!!!


  2. Thanks, Todd! I've been thinking about a folk song to do for your competition, but doubt if I'll get my act together before the deadline. I LOVE folk music and often play it. I don't think it fits my voice like the thirties jazz does, but it's in my bones just the same.

  3. Thank you, Walter! I saw you perform at the NY Uke Festival in 2007, and still remember how wonderful it was. One of the most entertaining of the whole festival.

  4. Great song and interpretation !
    Have a nice day Tim.


  5. ANy way we could get some lyrics for 'my bluebird is singing the blues'?

  6. To Anonymous: If you will let me know your email address I'll send you the chords and lyrics.