REVIEW POTPOURRI: Singer: Dick Haymes; Composer: Irving Berlin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Dick Haymes Sings Irving Berlin

MCA, MCL 1773, LP, released 1983 and based on Decca 78 originals.

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989), born Israel Baline, in Czarist Russia, came to America with his parents to escape the frequent bloody pogroms occurring there. He left home at the age of eight years, eking out a living as a newsboy. Other subsistent jobs would eventually lead to songwriting, begun with Marie from Sunny Italy, his first published song; the publisher misspelled his name as I. Berlin and Baline kept it for the rest of his very long life.

Within a few short years, the hits started with Alex­ander’s Rag­time Band, Play a Simple Melody, and Everybody’s Doin’ It.

Meanwhile, for more than 70 years, he created an avalanche of songs, of which at least 60 were megahits that still generate royalties for his estate. Dozens of singers covered them on record, especially Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Pat Boone, etc. George Gershwin considered him, “the greatest songwriter who ever lived;” Jerome Kern quipped, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music; he is American music.”

Dick Haymes

Tommy Dorsey

Many music lovers consider Dick Haymes (1918-1980) the finest singer among the sizable pool of talent to emerge during the ‘30s and ‘40s Big Band Era. The story has been verified that Haymes began writing songs as a means to earn a living, and submitted a few to bandleader Harry James. The trumpeter refused the songs but hired Haymes as a singer to replace then recently departed Frank Sinatra, who had meanwhile signed with Tommy Dorsey.

Haymes worked with Benny Goodman and then was introduced by Sinatra himself to Dorsey as a suggested replacement when Sinatra decided to pursue a solo career. Inevitably, Haymes too left Dorsey, became a success and signed with Decca records, scoring nine gold records. His popularity in films increased with 1945’s State Fair. And, even later when his career waned, all of his records would be treasured by collectors simply because he was a great singer and conveyed a sincerity and passion for singing right up to his last years before his death at 61 from lung cancer .

Benny Goodman

Finally, he was married six times, one of his wives being Rita Hayworth and this side of his life having considerable potential for a biographer.

The above reissue contains sixteen 78 sides devoted to Berlin, who was a special favorite of Haymes and includes The Girl That I Marry, Little Fish in a Big Pond, All Alone, Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk, Say It With Music and my own personal favorite, You’re Just In Love, with Ethel Merman and the most exquisite, enchanting arrangement by Gordon Jenkins. A gem of an album!


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