Five Great Broadway Songs That Many Don't Know Are Broadway Songs
While the Broadway stage has brought the world some of its greatest songs, there are a good deal of them that became popular outside of their theatrical context. Just as some people may be surprised to find out that one of their favorite pop tunes was actually composed for a musical, some musical theatre fans may be surprised to find out that a beloved showtune has admirers who know nothing of its Broadway roots.
Here are five of them:
AS TIME GOES BY, music and lyrics by Herman Hupfeld
One of Hollywood's most famous movie songs, unforgettably played and sung by Dooley Wilson in the 1942 classic, CASABLANCA, was actually introduced in 1931 by the elegant torch singer known as "Broadway's Queen of Jazz," Frances Williams. The show was EVERYBODY'S WELCOME and though the score was primarily by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, the Shubert Brothers, who produced, added Herman Hupfeld's ballad to showcase their star. That same year "As Time Goes By" was a hit for the country's heartthrob crooner, Rudy Valee.
It's hard to believe, but there are people who have been singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" all their lives without knowing the inspirational anthem premiered in the Broadway classic, CAROUSEL. Blame it on Liverpool's Merseybeat band, Gerry and The Pacemakers. Their 1963 single of the showtune was #1 on the British charts for four consecutive weeks. During that time, the Liverpool Football Club (soccer in the U.S.) would play a countdown of the nation's top ten songs before every match. Fans began singing along to "You'll Never Walk Along" and continued to sing it before matches even after the single dropped off the charts. Football squads worldwide began adopting it as their own and today the Rodgers and Hammerstein's ballad is a sacred song for millions who wouldn't know CAROUSEL from THE KING AND I.
TILL THERE WAS YOU, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson
When Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles to American television audiences in February of 1964, sandwiched between "All My Lovin'" and "She Loves You" was their cover of a song introduced on Broadway by Barbara Cook in THE MUSIC MAN, "Till There Was You." Perhaps it was a sly move meant to sooth parents who were worried about the explosive squeals their daughters were letting loose over the four British long-hairs. Paul McCartney didn't know it was a Broadway song when he introduced it to his mates after hearing Peggy Lee's recording, and there are still those who attend THE MUSIC MAN and wonder why they added an old Beatles hit to the score.
NIGHT AND DAY, music and lyrics by Cole Porter
When Fred Astaire sang the now-classic Cole Porter love song, "Night and Day," to Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film, THE GAY DIVORCEE, followed by the two of them taking to the dance floor in an iconic display of art deco elegance, the genteel sexuality of the moment defined romance for generations. But if Fred Astaire had his way, the moment would have been a recreation of his Broadway experience singing and dancing with Claire Luce in the 1931 musical GAY DIVORCE. This was the first stage musical for Astaire after his longtime partner, his sister Adele, retired from show business, and his new co-star earned raves as a more-than-worthy new partner. When RKO acquired the film rights, they not only changed the name, fearing that the thought of a "happy divorce" would be considered immoral, but cast contract player Rogers as leading lady. There was no doubt that the Porter tune would remain, as Astaire had a hit recording of it.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Perhaps the most famous song ever cut from a musical, Irving Berlin penned the patriotic anthem in 1918 while serving in the United States Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. Already known for writing "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and other popular hits, Berlin was asked to write the score for a Broadway fundraising revue about army life, YIP YIP YAPHANK. Originally meant to be the show's finale, Berlin reconsidered, thinking the song to be "too sticky." But by 1938, with Hitler on the rise, stickiness may have been what the country needed when Kate Smith introduced "God Bless America" on her radio program. It was a triumph and Smith found the signature song she would be singing for the rest of her career. That first radio performance was recreated for the wartime film, THIS IS THE ARMY.