Song 12 – Hula Girl

SONG: Hula Girl ARTIST: Sol Hoopii YEAR: 1934 Listen to it here:  THE SONG: There’s not a lot of information on the song itself, other than it was recorded in 1934 by Hawaiian Sol Ho’opii.  There was a big Hawaiian craze in America starting in 1915 when slack key guitar players and grass-skirted hula dancersContinue reading “Song 12 – Hula Girl”

Song 11 – Mal hombre

SONG: Mal Hombre ARTIST: Lydia Mendoza YEAR: 1934 Listen to it here:  THE SONG: This song is not of Mexican descent, even though it was made popular by a singer who celebrated and was celebrated for her own Mexicanness. Lydia Mendoza’s core repertoire was all traditional Mexican songs, but the song that made her famous,Continue reading “Song 11 – Mal hombre”

Song 10 – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

SONG: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime ARTIST: Bing Crosby YEAR: 1932 Listen to it here:  THE SONG: Brother, Can Your Spare A Dime was written in 1932 by Yip Harburg after his appliance business went bust.  He became a lyricist and teamed up with composer Jay Gorney, who borrowed the melody from a RussianContinue reading “Song 10 – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Song 9 – Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl

SONG: Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl ARTIST: Bessie Smith YEAR: 1931 Listen to it here:  THE SONG: Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl is part of a sub-genre called “dirty blues”, which is exactly what you’d think: songs that discuss obscene or taboo subjects. I have to say, the lyrics to thisContinue reading “Song 9 – Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl”

Song 8: Minnie the Moocher

SONG: Minnie the Moocher ARTIST: Cab Calloway & His Orchestra YEAR: 1931 Listen to it here: THE SONG: Minnie the Moocher was first recorded and released in 1931 by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.  It was the biggest hit of 1931 and was most famous for Cab’s nonsensical words (scat) of hi-de-hi-de-hi/ho.  It’s alsoContinue reading “Song 8: Minnie the Moocher”

Song 7: El Mansiero

SONG: El Manisero ARTIST: Don Azpiazu and His Havana Casino Orchestra YEAR: 1929 Listen to it here: THE SONG: I’m sure many of you will do the exact same thing I did when listening to this song the first time, which is to exclaim “Ohhhh! The Peanut Vendor! I know this song!” This isContinue reading “Song 7: El Mansiero”

Song 5: Pokarekare

SONG: Pokarekare ARTIST: Ana Hato YEAR: 1929 Listen to it here: THE SONG: Pokarekare is a Maori love song that was probably composed communally around 1914. An east coast Maori composer, Paraire Tomoana claims to have written the song, and was the one to polish it up and publish the words in 1917. ThisContinue reading “Song 5: Pokarekare”

Song 4: Lagrimas Negras

SONG: Lagrimas Negras ARTIST: Trio Matamoros YEAR: 1928 Listen to it here: THE SONG: Lagrimas negras (Black Tears) was written in 1930 by Miguel Matamoros and is categorized as Bolero-son.  Miguel and his group Trio Matamoros recorded the song the following year in 1931, when Miguel was on his way home from Santo DomingoContinue reading “Song 4: Lagrimas Negras”

Song 2: St. Louis Blues

SONG: St. Louis Blues ARTIST: Bessie Smith YEAR: 1925 Listen to it here: THE SONG: St. Louis Blues was written in 1913 by W.C. Handy and was a massive hit, despite there being no music charts (they charted the song’s success by sheet music sales!).  Many blues songs at the time were traditional orContinue reading “Song 2: St. Louis Blues”

Song 1: O Sole Mio

SONG: O Sole Mio ARTIST: Enrico Caruso YEAR: 1916 Listen to it here: THE SONG: “O Sole Mio” was written in 1898 by the mostly forgotten composer Eduardo di Capua, and has since become known worldwide. It’s become almost the theme song for Naples, the birthplace of the composer, and is the “You AreContinue reading “Song 1: O Sole Mio”