1943 #1s: Helen Forrest

Harry James

I noticed that in 1943, Helen Forrest was the singer of three #1 songs with two big bands. Here’s a bit from Wikipedia: “Helen Forrest (born Helen Fogel, April 12, 1917 – July 11, 1999) was an American singer of traditional pop and swing music. She served as the ‘girl singer’ for three of the most popular big bands of the Swing Era…  earning a reputation as ‘the voice of the name bands.'”

Here’s a 1982 quote from her: I live for today, but it is nice sometimes to look back to yesterday. We did not know that we were living through an era – the Big Band Era – that would last only 10 years or so and be remembered and revered forever…it’s hard to believe, but the best times were packed into a five-year period from the late 1930s through the early 1940s when I sang with the bands of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Harry James… They seem to symbolize my life…that was when the music of the dance bands was the most popular music in the country, and I was the most popular female band singer in the country, and Harry had the most popular band in the country. It didn’t last long, but it sure was something while it lasted. Everyone should have something like it at least once in their lives. I’m grateful I did.”

The songs

I’ve Heard That Song Before – Harry James with Helen Forrest on vocals, thirteen weeks at #1, gold record. Written by Styne/Cahn for Youth On Parade.

Paper Doll – Mills Brothers, twelve weeks at #1, gold record. The biggest hit by a vocal group in the decade.

Sunday, Monday Or Always – Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers, seven weeks at #1, gold record. From the film Dixie.

There Are Such Things – Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers on vocals, five weeks at #1, gold record

You’ll Never Know– Dick Haymes and The Song Spinners, four weeks at #1, gold record. A Cappella! From the movie Hello, Frisco, Hello.

In The Blue Of Evening – Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra on vocals, three weeks at #1

Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer – The Song Spinners, three weeks at #1; A Cappella!

Taking A Chance On Love -Benny Goodman with Helen Forrest on vocals, three weeks at #1. From the film Cabin In The Sky.

I Had The Craziest Dream – Harry James with Helen Forrest on vocals, two weeks at #1, gold record, From the film Springtime In The Rockies.

That Old Black Magic – Glenn Miller with Skip Nelson and the Modernaires on vocals. From the film Star Spangled Rhythm

Pistol Packin’ Mama – Al Dexter and His Troopers, gold record. “It is said that the massive popularity of this ‘hillbilly’ tune… that was also covered successfully by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, was a major factor in Billboard’s decision to begin publishing a weekly record chart devoted to the country music genre.”

1942: Casablanca and White Christmas

THAT’S R and B?

Glenn MillerIn Joel Whitburn’s A Century of Pop Music, an interesting note. “The recording industry enjoyed booming success during the early 1940s until the era’s dominant big bands were stilled on August 1, 1942, when the American Federation of Musicians joined in a ban on recording due to a dispute over musicians’ royalties.

“By the time all the record companies entered into an agreement to end the ban in late 1944, vocalists had assumed predominance over bands in popularity.”

This is also the year of one of my favorite movies, Casablanca. I’ve mentioned it at least a dozen times in this blog. I saw this film, outdoors in a park, maybe in Rochester (?) with my friend Debi. I’ve lost track of the friend ever since. Nor have I seen the film again, and it was at least thirty years ago, so I should fix that. It’s certainly one of the oldest films that I’ve ever viewed, aside from The Wizard Of Oz and a handful of others.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby (Decca), 11 weeks at #1, gold record. In 2016, I wrote a whole post about the song here. I noted that the recording ALSO led the rhythm and blues tally for three weeks that year, and continued to appear on some charts for several years. It is the best-selling single worldwide with an estimated 50 million copies sold.

Bronze Star

Moonlight Cocktail– Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle and the Modernaires (Bluebird), 10 weeks at #1, gold record. From Wikipedia: “In 1942, Miller volunteered to join the U.S. military to entertain troops during World War II, ending up with the U.S. Army Air Forces. On December 15, 1944, while flying to Paris, Miller’s aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal.”

Jingle Jangle Jingle– Kay Kyser with Henry Babbitt and Julie Conway (Columbia), 8 weeks at #1, gold record.

(I’ve Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo – Glenn Miller with Tex Bereke, Marion Hutton, and the Modernaires (Victor), 7 weeks at #1, gold record. Apparently, Kalamazoo was a funny-sounding city name, like Walla Walla and Schenectady.

Tangerine – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberle and Helen O’Connell (Decca), 6 weeks at #1. A familiar tune, though I don’t remember specifically why.

Sleepy Lagoon – Harry James (Columbia), 4 weeks at #1. Instrumental.

A String Of Pearls – Glenn Miller (Bluebird), 2 weeks at #1. Instrumental. All of the Miller cuts are well known to me.

Blues In The Night (My Mama Done Tol’ Me) – Woody Herman (Decca)

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