The song of the day for Sunday, April 21, 2013 is Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe.
About This Song
This song, written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, was included in the film version of Cabin In The Sky, starring Ethel Waters, Eddie Anderson and a very young and very lovely Lena Horne. The Broadway production of Cabin In The Sky opened in 1940 starring Miss Waters and Dooley Wilson, and had a spectacular score by Vernon Duke and John LaTouche, which included a Tony Bennett favorite Taking A Chance on Love.
The film version was released in 1943. In addition to the Duke-LaTouche score, additional songs were added, including the Arlen-Harburg masterpiece, Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe, which was nominated for an Academy award for the Best Original Song, losing to the Harry Warren-Mack Gordon song You’ll Never Know from Hello Frisco, Hello. Arlen was nominated for two songs that year; the other was That Old Black Magic written with Johnny Mercer. Also nominated were songs by Cole Porter, Jule Styne, Jimmy McHugh and Arthur Schwartz. Pretty tough company. The film, directed by Vincent Minnelli (his first solo film directing credit), included a brief scene with Louis Armstrong as The Trumpeter (complete with little devil horns) and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
About This Version
I had never seen this film until this weekend; I recorded it just to check it out (thanks Turner Classic Movies) and found it delightful. Great performances, Ethel Waters, and a production number by Busby Berkeley. What more do you want in a movie? It was pure joy and the music was wonderful. The full score is available from iTunes.
Tony Bennett recorded this song only once, to the best of my knowledge, for his 1962 album with Ralph Sharon, Tony Sings For Two.
Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe, as well as the remastered Tony Sings For Two album, is available from iTunes.
And here’s Ethel Waters singing our song of the day from the film Cabin in the Sky: