Tag Archives: dorothy fields

7-day Uke challenge final song: “On the Sunny Side of the Street”

In terms of the Great American Songbook, you can’t go wrong with anything written by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The song is premised on the idea that that we can choose to be happy; this may be the essence of why I so enjoy playing the baritone uke in my bathrobe for just me and my cat. When I’m playing and singing a song I like and realize that I’m doing it well, I sometimes get this strange flutter in my chest, just under my ribcage.

I’m told it’s “joy.”

I don’t know the exact provenance of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” but it seems like a Tin Pan Alley tune that would have made the rounds in a several different revues of the time. Back in the day, more people knew how to play instruments than bought mechanical recordings, which means music publishing was where the money is. In Depression-era America, this song was a big hit.

Here’s my version: I warn you, it’s peppy:

And here’s Keely Smith’s: hers is lushly orchestrated and fairly bursts at the seams with emotion. (Show off!)

This 7-day uke challenge was a lot tougher than I thought. Part of that is my performance anxiety, since I’ve never wanted to be the guy at a coffeeshop’s open night who’s mastered four chords but still wants those in attendance to hear his stunning re- intrepretation of “Space Oddity.”

I don’t play as badly as I thought, and when I sing along, the overall quality improves. Still, I’m going to find a teacher in the new year who can teach me fingering and picking techniques (settle down, Beavis). In any event, thanks for the feedback over the last week; my fragile male ego and I thank you. I hope to improve and share more songs with you.


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Day 6: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”

Put on “Bringing Up Baby” (1938) and fast-forward about 78 minutes in; by this point, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” in a failed effort to coax a leopard down from a roof. With music by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, it’s a song that lends itself to a number of situations.

Here’s my version, but it’s not nearly as funny:

In “Born Yesterday,” Judy Holliday hums the song annoyingly after her abusive boyfriend forbids her from speaking. All the while, she’s kicking his ass at cards.

(Note to self: choose tomorrow’s song tonight so you don’t have to scramble again tomorrow.)

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