So, the image hasn't anything to do with the subject of this post, but it's never a bad time to promote the latest "Big Broadcast" collection. I was hoping to find the sheet music to "Little Spanish Dancer," or a nice shot of Sam Browne, who'll be singing it here (and tonight). No luck. At least nothing sufficiently pixel dense to post.
As someone who "brives a dus" during the week, I identify with Ralph Kramden, both as a fellow holder of a CDL and an amateur musicologist. After being stumped by "Swanee River," Kramden is led offstage babbling a series of songwriters. When the MC says, "I'll Be Seeing You," Ralph knows to blurt, "Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain!" Mr. Kahal, who was born March 5, 1903, will be saluted on tonight's "Big Broadcast." Here's another one he wrote with Sammy Fain (and Addy Britt).
The timeline for "The Big Broadcast" is mid-1920s to mid-30s. It can go back one hundred years or more, depending on requests and birthday tributes, but rarely gets beyond the late 1930s. That can create problems when somebody like Benny Goodman is being saluted, or, as tonight, Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. Most of the big names of the Swing Era got their start as sidemen in the 1920s, but public recognition didn't come for another decade or more.
Ethel Waters introduced "Stormy Weather," written by Ted Koehler & Harold Arlen, in the 1933 "Cotton Club Parade." She was accompanied by Duke Ellington's Orchestra. The song was a hit, and it was recorded by Waters (for Columbia), Ellington (Brunswick) and even composer Arlen for Victor Records. All were issued contemporaneously, along with at least a dozen more versions in the USA and UK. They weren't covers in the sense we think of them today; the song was the thing.