The song of the day for Thursday. January 30, 2020, is “They Didn’t Believe Me.”
About This Song
Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds wrote “They Didn’t Believe Me” in 1914 for Broadway musical The Girl From Utah. It became Kern’s first major song success.
This song redefined the American love song. Before “They Didn’t Believe Me,” love songs reflected the customary waltz-rhythms of European influence. Kern broke the mold and fitted the new American passion for modern dances such as the fox-trot. The song is also remarkable in its use of ‘everyday’ language in a love song. Theatre historian John Kenrick writes that, until this point, the majority of love songs had relied on flowery vocabulary to express romantic sentiments. The song put Kern in great demand on Broadway and established a pattern for musical theatre love songs that lasted through the 1960s.
“They Didn’t Believe Me” became a standard and was used in several films in the 1930s and 1940s. Significant recordings include those by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dinah Washington, Jeanette MacDonald, Johnny Mercer, Charlie Parker, Elvis Costello, Stan Kenton, Bill Frisell, Bud Powell, Edward Woodward, Harry Belafonte, Leontyne Price, and Marian McPartland.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “They Didn’t Believe Me” with the Bill Charlap Trio for the 2015 album The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern.
I think that Bennett’s recording of “They Didn’t Believe Me” is remarkable. With quiet and subdued accompanimnet from the Bill Charlap Trio, Bennett sings from his heart. It’s sincere, touching, and as real as can be.
“They Didn’t Believe Me,” as well as The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, is available from iTunes.