Thursday, July 25, 2019


Interesting Bing story from an unlikely source...

A popular young entertainer jeopardized a promising career with his out-of-control drinking. Sometimes he missed singing engagements while he went on binges lasting several days. One time when he did try to appear on stage when he was drunk, according to his biographers, “he stood pale and unsteady at the mike while the orchestra played the introduction to his song.” When he opened his mouth to sing, “he vomited—on his suit front, his shoes, and on several members of his socialite audience, who had gathered close to the bandstand to hear him sing.”

If this singer were performing today, he would be rushed immediately to the Betty Ford Center for treatment, after which we would read in People magazine of his gratitude to the treatment center and its twelve-step A.A. program for showing him he was a lifelong alcoholic who could never drink again. We might read later about his various relapses, but these could be handled by A.A. and the treatment center, which would always be there for him.

Actually, the singer’s name was Bing Crosby, nicknamed “Binge” Crosby early in his career. His hard-drinking days occurred more than half a century ago, when alcohol abuse was regarded as a problem in living rather than a lifelong disease. Life could still take its natural course; in this case, Crosby stopped drinking self-destructively when he began to socialize with the prominent people he previously had only entertained. As biographers Donald Shepherd and Robert Slatzer tell it, “It was during Bing’s Gatsby period that he stopped drinking himself into unconsciousness. He quit drinking entirely for a while, and when he resumed, he would drink occasionally, but never let the bottle get the best of him again.” Crosby simply found that public drunkenness was not in keeping with his emerging image as a superstar.

No alcoholism treatment center in America today would turn down someone like Crosby. If they accepted Betty Ford, they would hardly turn down a man who went on three-day benders and appeared in public falling-down drunk! But what would Crosby have gained from deciding he was an alcoholic for the rest of his life instead of mastering his destructive drinking habits as he matured?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Here is a new Bing Crosby CD that will be coming out soon. Some nice items on the CD, and you can purchase the CD on Amazon...


1. Humpty, Dumpty Heart from “Playmates” with Woody Herman Orchestra, July 30th 1941.
2. Ain’t Got A Dime To My Name from “The Road To Morocco” with Vic Schoen Orchestra, June 10th 1942.
3. Moonlight Becomes You from “The Road To Morocco” John Scott Trotter Orchestra, June 12th 1942.
4. Sunday, Monday Or Always from “Dixie”with the AFRS Orchestra, Treasury Star Parade, 1945.
5. If You Please from “Dixie”, with The Ken Darby Singers, Los Angeles, July 2nd 1943
6. It Could Happen To You from “And The Angels Sing”. John Scott Trotter Orchestra, December 29th 1943
7. Swinging On A Star from “Going My Way”, with The Williams Brothers Quartet and John Scott Trotter Orchestra, February 7th 1944.
8. The Day After Forever from “Going My Way”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, February 7th 1944.
9. Going My Way from “Going My Way”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, Los Angeles, February 7th 1944
10. Welcome To My Dream from “The Road To Utopia”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, Los Angeles, July 17th 1944.
11. Put It There, Pal from “The Road To Utopia”, with Bob Hope, Vic Schoen Orchestra, December 8th 1944.
12. The Road To Morocco from “The Road To Morocco”, with Bob Hope, Vic Schoen Orchestra, December 8th 1944.
13. Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta with Judy Garland and Joseph Lilley Orchestra, Los Angeles, March 9th 1945.
14. Aren’t You Glad You’re You? from “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, September 10th 1945.
15. Personality from “The Road To Utopia”, with Eddie Condon Orchestra 3 and Wild Bill Davison, cornet, January 16th 1946.
16. But Beautiful from “The Road To Rio”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, radio broadcast, 1948.
17. You Don’t Have To Know The Language from “The Road To Rio”, with The Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen Orchestra, November 25th 1947.
18. Apalachicola, FLA with The Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen OrchestraLos Angeles November 25th 1947.
19. To See You Is To Love You, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, radio broadcast, Los Angeles 1952.
20. “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, a radio adaptation of the movie, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman and Joan Carroll, Screen Guild Theatre, August 26th 1946.

Note that the final track is of a full radio show extending to over 25 minutes!

Friday, July 12, 2019


Here is an excellent excerpt of a story on the song Swanee River. It was written by Leonard Kress, an excellent writer...

I recently listened to several recordings of “Swanee River.” The most moving and powerful by far was the version by Paul Robeson; it carries within it a deep and weary sadness that is as beautiful as it is hard to listen to. The other memorable version was by Bing Crosby, from the 1935 film, Mississippi

The scene opens with a group of dressed-up and dolled-up Black children performing the song for their families and relatives. They seem to be in some sort of parlor while wearing their best clothes and a boy and a girl try earnestly to reach the high notes without screeching. They are clearly meant to be seen as cute and precious, ardently trying to please the adults gathered in the doorway, outside looking in. They quickly join in, singing the song as if it were a spiritual, solemn anthem, and we quickly learn that this is some sort of evening entertainment for a group of well dressed (tuxes and crinoline) white men and women. One woman, Bing’s love-interest, played by gorgeous, hyper-sensitive, and brooding Joan Bennet, is shown in profile, a sentimentalized vision of melancholy until the other party-goers urge Bing to join in the singing. 

At first, he demurs — “Why spoil it?” he says, but soon he does sing. Everyone is transfixed, spellbound — much in the way I was in Chatlins. The Black cast disappears as if the doors had been shut, and only an older kerchiefed house servant momentarily looks down approvingly from a balcony, presumably experiencing her own version of the Stendhal Syndrome. What’s interesting about Crosby’s version of the song is that he sings it with his customary intimate jazzy phrasing, avoiding the deep and loud vaudeville style usually associated with minstrel shows. Moreover, the Crosby character is a northern Quaker who gets into trouble when he refuses to take part in a duel. Even though issues of race are not treated directly in the film, he clearly comes from an abolitionist background — as did Stephen Foster, who supported the North during the Civil War and was known to support the abolitionist cause. Moreover, the song itself, with its questionable lyrics and use of artificially stereotypical slave dialect (as in “Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,/Far from de old folks at home”), is clearly about the hardship, sadness, and despair of families separated by slave traders and plantation owners...

Thursday, July 4, 2019


The Star Maker is a seldom seen Bing Crosby film that would turn 80 years old this year. It's a pretty good flick, and here is the original movie review from the NY Times of August 31, 1939...

"The Star Maker," the new Bing Crosby film at the Paramount, was inspired (to employ a euphemism) by the career of Gus Edwards, a show-minded Pied Piper who used to swing around the old vaudeville circuits followed by precocious little song and dance teams—the girls in sunbonnets, the boys in newsies' tatters—who grew up, or at least some of them did, to become Walter Winchell, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor and Mervyn LeRoy. So it is possible that among the tiny tots, the not-so-tiny-tots and the not-tots at all recruited by Paramount for its interminable Gus Edward revue there may be a future Fred Astaire, Alice Faye, Vera Zorina or even a Bing Crosby. And if so, what of it?

Mightn't it have been better to have waited a few years to see?If we have to take a stand on the problem of talented children, and "The Star Maker" demands it, it is this: we think it is perfectly marvelous for a 5-year-old to be able to toe-dance, for a 6-year-old to be able to do a buck and wing, for a group of under-tens to be able to do a shuffle-off-to-Buffalo together, but if you don't mind we'll give our seat to a proud parent and go somewhere to watch the professionals do it. We believe the young should be encouraged, encouraged to rehearse and practise and grow up in private so that no one will have to say, as we must, "aren't they remarkable for children!"There isn't much more to the picture.

Mr. Crosby sings in his usual lullaby manner and hasn't many good lines to play with. Ned Sparks sneaks away with a comic scene or two as the child-hating press agent who has to tell bedtime stories and spins a grim whopper about the mean old wolf who gobbled up the little kiddies. Linda Ware, 14 years old, sings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Walter Damrosch conducting) in a clear, if slight, soprano which probably is better than its recording and projection: the sound gadget wheezed in the higher register. But it is all, if Mr. Edwards will pardon us, too much like a Gus Edwards revue and far too much of that.

THE STAR MAKER, screen play by Frank Butler, Don Hartman and Arthur Caesar based on a story by Mr. Caesar and William A. Pierce suggested by the career of Gus Edwards; directed by Roy Del Ruth; produced for Paramount by Charles R. Rogers.

Larry Earl . . . . . Bing Crosby
Mary . . . . . Louise Campbell
Jane Gray . . . . . Linda Ware
"Speed" King . . . . . Ned Sparks
Carlotta Salvini . . . . . Laura Hope Crews
Stella . . . . . Janet Waldo