1920: Your non-alcoholic #1 hits

Volstead Act

Edith Day.From “A Century of Pop Music”: “America went dry on January 16, 1920, with the effective date of the Volstead Act barring beer, wine, and liquor…”

Oh, “except (as it turns out) from speakeasies and bootleggers.

“Also in 1920, women finally got the right to vote following ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution…

“‘Crazy Blues’ by Mamie Smith in 1920 became the first authentic blues recording, paving the way for “the Empress of the Blues,” Bessie Smith.

The hits

Dardenella – Selvin’s Novelty Orchestra, #1 for 13 weeks, gold record (Victor). It’s a song that began life as a ballad with words by Fred Fisher, and put to the music written by Felix Bernard and Johnny S. Black in 1919.

Whispering – Paul Whiteman, #1 for 11 weeks, gold record, but in fact listed as a two million seller (Victor) – The undisputed king of dance bands.

Swanee – Al Jolson, #1 for 9 weeks, gold record (Columbia). One of Jolson’s signature songs. George’s Gershwin’s first hit song. “Swanee” was actually introduced by a singer named Muriel DeForrest in October 1919 but was not a success until Jolson performed it in December 1919 at a Winter Garden show. It was then added to the score of his show, “Sinbad”.

When My Baby Smiles At Me – Ted Lewis Jazz Band, #1 for 7 weeks (Columbia). Music by Bill Munro with words by Andrew B. Sterling and Ted Lewis.

The Love Nest – John Steel, #1 for 4 weeks (Victor). From the musical, “Mary”. Written by Louis A. Hirsch and Otto Harbach.

Hold Me – Art Hickman, #1 for 3 weeks (Columbia).

The “St. Louis Blues” – Marion Harris, #1 for 3 weeks (Columbia). She was the first widely known white singer to sing jazz and blues songs.

The Japanese Sandman – Paul Whiteman, #1 for 2 weeks (Victor). This also-popular flip side of Whiteman’s famous career-launching hit “Whispering”.

I’ve Got My Captain Working for Me Now – Al Jolson, #1 for 2 weeks (Columbia). A great revenge song.

The Love Nest – Art Hickman, #1 for 2 weeks (Columbia).

Alice Blue Gown – Edith Day, #1 for 1 week (Victor). From the 1919 musical “Irene”.

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