Feeling a little stir crazy today? Well just get up and take a stroll on the sunny side of the street. Even Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot whose stern visage enforcing social distancing and telling everyone to just stay home and has become a viral meme sensation says that it’s alright to go out for a walk for exercise.
Mayor Lightfoot is watching but even she will let you take a walk if you social distance.
On the Sunny Side of the Street was a 1930 song composed by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Some writer claim that Fats Waller was the actual composer, but sold the rights—not an uncommon thing for cash strapped Black musicians to do, especially in the Depression. It was introduced on Broadway in Lew Leslie’s International Revue starring Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. Richman had a hit record that year with the song but Ted Lewis and His Orchestra had a bigger one. It became one of the quirky clarinetist/singer’s signature songs.
Ted Lewis with his clarinet and trademark bashed in top hat with his band circa 1930.
It quickly became a jazz standard with instrumentals recoded by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Lester Young, Earl “Fatha” Hines, and Dave Brubeck. Singers who performed it included Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Frankie Laine, Keely Smith, Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford with The Pied Pipers, Frank Sinatra, and Willie Nelson.
The Sentimentalists a/k/a the Clark Sisters were the vocalists on Tommy Dorsey's hit recording.
Today we are listening to the most popular arrangement by Tommy Dorsey and the Sentimentalists which charted in 1945 reaching the #16.