During the 1920s (also called "The Roaring 20s") jazz became very popular. Chicago became jazz capital and vocalists like Billie Holiday soon grabbed the spotlight. Songs from Broadway musicals were also very popular, especially songs by legendary composer Irving Berlin. If you listen closely to the love songs of this period, you'll notice that the lyrics are well-written and poem-like. One of the notable singers during this time was Ruth Etting, also known as "America's Sweetheart of Song."
1. Ain't Misbehavin'
This song was written in 1929 by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf. It was first recorded by Fats Waller but recordings by other artists soon followed, including Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. The song was also included in the 1943 film Stormy Weather featuring a memorable performance on the piano by Fats Waller.
No one to talk with,
All by myself,
No one to walk with,
But I'm happy on the shelf
I'm savin' my love for you
Watch Fats Waller's performance in the film Stormy Weather courtesy of YouTube.
2. All Alone
All alone, I'm so all alone
There is no one else but you
All alone by the telephone
Waiting for a ring, a ting-a-ling
Listen to Frank Sinatra sing "All Alone" courtesy of YouTube.
Ill be loving you always
With a love that's true always.
When the things youve planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand always.
Listen to Patsy Cline sing "Always" in the movie The Pride of the Yankees.
4. April Showers
Published in 1921, the lyrics of this song was written by B.G. DeSylva and the music composed by Louis Silvers. It was sung by Al Jolson in the 1921 musical Bombo and later recorded by him in 1932.
Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,
When the sun gives way to April showers,
Here is the point you should never miss.
Listen to Al Jolson singing "April Showers" courtesy of YouTube.
5. Blue Skies
Music and lyrics written by Irving Berlin in 1926; the song was performed by Belle Baker in the musical Betsy. "Blue Skies" was recorded by several singers from diverse genres, including Benny Goodman and Willie Nelson. The song was also featured in several films including The Jazz Singer
Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long
Listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing "Blue Skies" via YouTube.
6. Everybody Loves My Baby
Composed by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams in 1924, the complete title of this song is "Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don't Love Nobody But Me)." This song was recorded by Aileen Stanley in 1924 and the Boswell Sisters in 1932.
Everybody loves my baby,
But my baby don't love nobody but me.
Nobody but me.
Everybody wants my baby,
But my baby don't want nobody but me
That's plain to see.
Listen to the Boswell Sisters singing this song courtesy of YouTube.
7. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
Written by Jimmy McHugh and Clarence Gaskill in 1926; this song was recorded by Billie Holiday in 1933 and later by Frank Sinatra in 1960.
Your eyes so blue
Your kisses too
I never knew what they could do
I can't believe you're in love with me
8. I Wanna Be Loved By You
Written in 1928 by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Herbert Stothart for the musical titled Good Boy. This song was recorded by Helen Kane, for which the cartoon character Betty Boop was based. It was also performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot
wanna kissed by you, just you,
Nobody else but you,
I wanna be kissed by you, alone!
Listen to Marilyn Monroe's version of this song courtesy of YouTube.
9. Side By Side
The melody of this song was composed by Harry Woods and the lyrics written by Gus Kahn in 1927. This song was recorded by Kay Starr in 1953; several other performers also recorded this very familiar tune.
Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money,
Maybe we're ragged and funny;
But we'll travel along, singin' a song,
Side by side.
Listen to Kay Starr singing "Side By Side" in this YouTube video.
The melody of this song was written in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael and the lyrics added by Mitchell Parish two years later. It was first recorded in 1927 by Emil Seidel and became a hit in 1930 with Isham Jones' version. This song became so popular that many prominent singers and bands recorded it including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman and Nat King Cole
Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you.
When our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song.
Listen to Nat King Cole singing "Stardust" courtesy of YouTube.