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HITS of 1940: I'll Never Smile Again (Naxos: 8.120636)


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HITS OF 1940 Original Recordings

For much of the world, 1940 was the first full year of World War II. Hitler annexed Austria, invaded Denmark and Norway, and then occupied Holland, Belgium and France. The bombing of London began in August. In North America, Canada had joined the conflict immediately, but the United States would stay out of it for almost two full years. But its isolationism was crumbling, as Congress required alien residents to register, and initiated the first peace-time military draft in US History. All male citizens up to age 35, over 16 million in all, were registered on 16th October. And the US acquired naval and air bases in American waters from Britain, in return for fifty old destroyers.

In aviation, Pan Am’s "Yankee Clipper" set a record with its flight from New York to Lisbon in eighteen hours and thirty-five minutes; the return trip took twenty-five hours and one minute. Also in 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term as U.S. President, Russian Revolutionist Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City, and in Lhasa, Tibet, five-year-old Tensin Gyatso was proclaimed the new Dalai Lama.

What we now know as F.M. Radio was demonstrated by Major Edwin H. Armstrong as "Staticless" radio on 5th January, and CBS demonstrated colour television on 4th September. Earlier in the year, NBC had made the first telecast of an opera in the New York area, but these advances would be halted by the war. Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra toured South America, and Leopold Stokowski shook hands with Mickey Mouse on the screen (in Fantasia) and formed the new All American Youth Orchestra, for which fifteen thousand young musicians auditioned.

The year’s books included Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley, Richard Wright’s Native Son and Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again. John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the previous year’s Grapes of Wrath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald died on 21st December. On Broadway, audiences went to The Male Animal, Johnny Belinda, The Corn is Green and My Sister Eileen, and the musicals Louisiana Purchase and Panama Hattie. The popular films of 1940 were All This And Heaven Too, Gone With the Wind from the previous year, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, Ninotchka, Northwest Passage, Our Town, The Philadelphia Story and Pinocchio.

The popular American music of 1940 tends to be somewhat escapist. The Depression was over, but the world was full of uncertainty, and wishes, dreams and nostalgia make their presence felt in the hit tunes of the day. Ruth Lowe’s poignant I’ll Never Smile Again was to become one of the most popular songs of the entire war era. Escape was the theme of Make Believe Island, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano and Trade Winds. When You Wish Upon a Star, from Disney’s Pinocchio, would win the Academy Award for Best Song. Music came from sources outside the U.S. in 1940, with the Mexican Frenesi a top hit for Artie Shaw, and two similar-sounding Italian imports, The Ferryboat Serenade and The Woodpecker Song doing well for the Andrews Sisters. Definitely not wishful or nostalgic were Cole Porter’s zany Friendship, done in 20s style by Kay Kyser, and the boogie-woogie hit for Will Bradley, Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar.

Glenn Miller’s Orchestra dominated the best-seller lists with no less than 45 records on the charts in 1940, compared with 22 for Tommy Dorsey, 8 for Jimmy Dorsey, 11 for Benny Goodman and only 4 for Artie Shaw, all of whom could still fill a dance hall and keep the jukebox hopping. Tommy’s young vocalist, Frank Sinatra, had left Harry James and begun his legendary climb to the top, and indeed, vocalists would come to be the prime force in popular music over the next couple of years as the draft began taking its toll on the big bands. Swing was still King, but not for long.

David Lennick, 2002

1stJanuary. Britain calls up two million men aged 19 and 27 for military service. 2ndJanuary. Soviet troops invade Finland; thousands will die just from the extreme cold. 16thFebruary. In a daring raid by the destroyer HMS Cossack 300 British prisoners are rescued from the German tanker Altmark, found hiding in a Norwegian fjord. 17thJanuary. The River Thames freezes for the first time in half a century. 26thJanuary. The Nazis warn that anyone caught listening to foreign radio stations will be executed. 12thFebruary. The first Australian and New Zealand troops arrive in Palestine. 22ndFebruary. In Lhasa, Tibet, 5-year-old Tensin Gyatso is enthroned as the new Dalai Lama. 13thMarch. Finland is finally beaten by the Soviet Union through sheer weight of numbers. 1stApril. Austria is officially annexed by Germany. 9thApril. The Germans invade neutral Denmark and Norway. 28thApril. Italian soprano Luigia Tetrazzini dies. 10thMay. Neville Chamberlain resigns as British Prime Minister; Winston Churchill takes over. 14thMay. Holland gives up resistance to German occupation. 28thMay. Belgium surrenders; the Germans surround the British army at the French seaside resort of Dunkirk. 3rdJune. The evacuation of some 330,000 British, French and Belgian troops from the beaches of Dunkirk to England is completed. 10thJune. Mussolini declares war on Britain and France. 14thJune. Paris falls. 18thJune. Raids on Britain by Luftwaffe bombers intensify in preparation for invasion. 22ndJune. France surrenders to Germany; Britain fights on alone. 4thJuly. The Royal Navy destroys much of the French fleet lying at anchor in Algeria to prevent it falling into Nazi hands. 9thJuly. The Duke of Windsor is appointed Governor of the Bahamas for the duration of the war. 20thAugust. Churchill pays tribute to "The Few", the young Spitfire and Hurricane pilots who continue to resist endless attacks by the Luftwaffe. 21stAugust. Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico City. 24thAugust. First bombing of London by the Luftwaffe. 26thAugust. The RAF bombs Berlin in retaliation. 7thSeptember. The ‘Blitz’ begins; from now on German bombers pound London and other British cities in earnest. 15thSeptember. Climax of the ‘Battle of Britain’ after which, although the bombing continues mercilessly, Hitler shelves his plans for invading Britain. 27thSeptember. Japan makes a pact with Germany and Italy, dividing up Europe and Asia between them and implicitly warning the USA not to interfere. 13thOctober. 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth broadcasts by radio from Buckingham Palace to Britain’s child evacuees. 28thOctober. Italy invades Greece. 30thOctober. The ‘Battle of The Atlantic’ hots up as Germany tries to stop supply convoys reaching Britain. 1stNovember. Discovery of prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux in southern France. 5thNovember. Franklin D. Roosevelt wins a third term as US president. 9thNovember. Neville Chamberlain dies of cancer. 14thNovember. A thousand civilians are killed in a devastating air raid on Coventry as the Luftwaffe pays more attention to Britain’s provincial cities and ports. 15thNovember. Jews in Warsaw are now confined to a ghetto. 20thNovember. Hungary allies itself with Germany. 22ndNovember. Invading Italians are routed by the Greeks. 1stDecember. US Ambassador in London Joseph Kennedy resigns. 9thDecember. British offensive in North Africa overwhelms Italians. 29thDecember. The Luftwaffe tries to burn out the City of London by dropping thousands of fire-bombs.

Transfers & Production: David Lennick

Digital Noise Reduction: Graham Newton

Original 78s from the collections of David Lennick, John Rutherford and Peter J. Doyle
Disc: 1
Frenesi
1 Frenesi
Polka Dots And Moonbeams
2 Polka Dots And Moonbeams
Ferryboat Serenade (La Piccinina)
3 Ferryboat Serenade (La Piccinina)
Trade Winds
4 Trade Winds
Make Believe Island
5 Make Believe Island
Friendship
6 Friendship
Imagination
7 Imagination
Maybe
8 Maybe
When You Wish Upon A Star
9 When You Wish Upon A Star
Darn That Dream
10 Darn That Dream
The Breeze And I
11 The Breeze And I
I'm Stepping Out With A Memory Tonight
12 I'm Stepping Out With A Memory Tonight
Only Forever
13 Only Forever
Tuxedo Junction
14 Tuxedo Junction
Careless
15 Careless
I'll Never Smile Again
16 I'll Never Smile Again
Woodpecker Song
17 Woodpecker Song
When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
18 When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)
19 Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)
Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar
20 Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar
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