Walter Winchell—Songwriter?

Discussion in 'Radio' started by scotrace, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    4BC9AF0F-BD31-46C1-8DD4-AB77563E0AB6.png I’ve been trying to find a copy of this 78. Brunswick 6068, Red Nichols “Things I Never Knew Till Now.” In posting to groups in my search, someone notices that one of the credited writers is “Winchell,” and sure enough, it’s Walter Winchell. Apparently he did a little tune writing early on. Lizzie, any light to be shed?
     
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  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    He was "cut in" on the songwriting credit because "Things I Never Knew Till Now" was one of the catchphrases of his column, but I wouldn't be surprised if he kicked in a bit more than that. He had been a song-and-dance man in vaudeville before he began his column, and he knew his way around the music business.

    "Cut ins" were very common in the Era -- the usual setup was that a star would agree to feature and promote a particular number if he was "cut in" with a writing credit so as to get a chunk of the royalties. Jolson was the most notorious practitioner of this -- you'll find his name on a lot of sheet music that he had nothing to do with actually writing. Rudy Vallee was also a frequent "cut in," but at least in his case he usually did contribute an alternate set of lyrics or some other such input.

    That's a great record. I've never owned a copy of it, but I've heard it. All the Red Nichols stuff of that era is well worth hearing.
     
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  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    And in the absolutely nothing changes category, check out this article I read this morning:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/who-re...-complicated-11614176253?mod=itp_wsj&ru=yahoo

    Sorry, the article might be behind a paywall.
     
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Fascinating how the name changes but the chisel remains the same.

    Jolson made a fortune on one cut-in -- he took a 1/4 credit for "Sonny Boy" in 1928, even though didn't do anything but sing it, interminably, on film, on records, and on radio, and every time he did the number he rang up another percentage. DeSylva, Brown and Henderson -- who had originally written the song as a joke -- were not happy to have to share the wealth when the song became a hit, but on the other hand, "Sonny Boy" wouldn't have been the hit that it was if it had been introduced by George Jessel.
     
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  5. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    Thanks for the background, Lizzie. I knew you'd be able to help. It is a great record. I have a nice digital transfer but I'd like to have the real thing, pops and all.
    I don't know who did the vocals. I'm beginning to think it was Nichols himself. And I don't get why the title is also in a second language.
     
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    That's Harold Arlen -- yes, the famous songwriter -- doing the vocal. He sang on a number of records around this time, following the example of Sam Coslow, who had a radio/vaudeville thing going as "The Singing Songwriter." Arlen didn't get quite as much out of his singing as Coslow did, but he did turn up as a singing guest on various radio shows for a while. He does the vocal on two other Nichols sides recorded on the same date (2/19/31, according to Mr. Rust.)

    Listing the title in Spanish was a common thing around this time on many records -- Victor did it on all their US releases from the mid-twenties into the mid-thirties, and Columbia, Brunswick and the various ARC labels did so as well. It was mostly a way of saving money on exports to Mexico and the Carribbean -- that way they didn't have to print a separate set of labels for records being distributed in Spanish-speaking territory. The late twenties-early thirities were a very low ebb for the record industry and they were trying to save money everywhere they could.
     
  7. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    Location:
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    The day after I started this thread, a copy of the record popped up on eBay and I won it for less than $10, my general limit price for buying 78s no matter how scarce. I have it and it sounds great, in much better shape than the seller indicated. I'm a big fan of Red Nichols sides from this period (along with Fletcher Henderson and a few others).

    Of the hundreds of shellacs I've accumulated, I think I only play about 20. The rest aren't so interesting or are in poor shape. Selling them is a huge hassle (because careful packing), so there they sit.
     
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