History of the Song: "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree"

Picture of Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree

"Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)" was a chart topping song that was made famous by Glenn Miller and by the Andrews Sisters. Its lyrics are the words of two young lovers who pledge their fidelity while one of them is away serving in World War II. I've included the recordings of both versions at the bottom of this article.

The song was originally titled "Anywhere the Bluebird Goes" and later changed to the name we know today.  The music was written by Sam Stept.  He based the melody off of an old English Folk song from 1833 titled "Long, Long Ago" by Thomas Bayly.  Stept updated the music to a more bouncier tempo.

The lyrics of the song were written by Lew Brown and Charles Tobias. "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)" debuted in the 1939 Broadway musical Yokel Boy. After the United States entered the World War II in late December of 1941, Brown and Tobias changed the lyrics slightly, with the chorus ending with "...till I come marching home".

In February of 1942, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra recorded the song. This record spent thirteen weeks on the Billboard charts.  In May that same year, the song was featured in the film "Private Buckaroo" as a performed by the Andrews Sisters with the Harry James Orchestra. The Andrews Sisters then later released the song on Decca Records.

There has been many recordings of this song over the years made by so many different artists.  Kay Kyser, for instance, topped the charts with his recording for a time. 

Listen to: "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" by The Andrews Sisters

Listen to: "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

An Interesting Note:
Notice how carefully every word is enunciated in the Glenn Miller version of the song.  As Tex Beneke, once pointed out, Miller was quite strict about not slurring the lyrics.  "Don't sing, 'Don-si-tunder the yapple tree'" Miller would warn.  "Sing, 'Don't sit under the apple tree.'"  Yes, Miller was quite the perfectionist.

You can hear the many versions of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)" right here on Swing City Radio.

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Happy Birthday: Helen Forrest

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April 12th marks the birthday of famed female vocalist Helen Forrest.  Helen was born on April 12, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Helen Forrest and hear a couple of her songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - April 12: Helen Forrest


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Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

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Louis Armstrong was not only a great trumpeter, vocalist and composer, he was also among the most influential figures in Jazz history.  He had a career that spanned over 50 years and continued to release relevant music up to his death in 1971.

In the early 1920's, Armstrong got his break playing with Joe "King" Oliver in Chicago.  He began to make a name for himself and he also met and married his second wife, Lil Hardin, who was the pianist for King Oliver.  Hardin would play a big part in Louis' early success.

Louis Armstrong's reputation soon found its way to Fletcher Henderson.  Armstrong left Oliver's band in 1924 and soon received an invitation to go to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra.  Armstrong's time with Henderson's band was short lived, but it produced some fantastic music.  In 1925, Armstrong returned to Chicago largely at the insistence of Lil, who wanted to expand his career.  In publicity pieces, much to Louis' dislike, she billed him as "The World's Greatest Trumpet Player". For a time he was a member of the Lil Hardin Armstrong Band and working for his wife.

Louis and Lil separated in the late 1920's and Armstrong returned to New York City and bounced from gig to gig.  Armstrong was also singing much more. His rich, gravelly voice was instantly recognizable.  New advancements in microphone technology also helped.  While in New York, Armstrong continued to develop his famous on-stage charisma and a following.

Armstrong went on to record a lot of sides in the 1930's.  When his career was over, it's surprising to note that Armstrong had nineteen Top Ten Hits.  That's amazing to me that he had only had nineteen.  His playing and singing was so influential and so unique, one would think that he would have scored more.


Listen to: "Star Dust" by Louis Armstrong

Louis was very successful in the 1940's.  Swing and Jazz went through a nostalgia period where there was a widespread revival of interest in the traditional jazz of the 1920's.  Armstrong started to tour excessively at that point.  During the next 30 years, Armstrong played more than 300 performances a year.

By the 1950s, Louis Armstrong was considered a national musical icon, due in part, by his appearances on radio and in film and television, in addition to his concerts.  He spent the rest of his career and life playing, composing, recording and making appearances.  

Armstrong died of a heart attack in July of 1971 at the age of 69.  His influence on the development of jazz is almost immeasurable. 

You can hear the Swing Era music of Louis Armstrong here on Swing City Radio

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Watch: Louis Prima - Swing Cats Jamboree

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Louis Prima left quite a mark on the Swing Era.  When most people think of Prima, they think of his hits from the mid 1940's or the years that Keely Smith spent with his band.  Those we great years for Prima's band, but Louis had been releasing great material and putting on some great performance throughout the 1930's as well. 

This 1939 short film called "Swing Cats Jamboree" is an excellent example of that.  Louis Prima and his quintet play quite a few songs in this spirited little film.  Songs include: "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "You're an Education".  The set ends with an upbeat version of "Loch Lomond".

Enjoy! 

Watch Video of: Louis Prima - Swing Cats Jamboree

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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Podcast: Episode 56

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - The Saturday Night Swing Club and More - 

Episode 56 features songs from Vaughn Monroe, Bob Chester, The Andrews Sisters, Hal McIntyre and many more. We also hear some tracks from an old radio show called The Saturday Night Swing Club.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Remember:  If you would like access to Bonus Content and Podcast Extras then join our Patreon and become a Hepcat.  It's a great way to support the station.  

Check it out at: SupportSwing.com

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Happy Birthday: Billie Holiday

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Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the most recognizable voices of the Big Band era, Billie Holiday.  She was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Billie Holiday and hear a couple of her songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - April 7: Billie Holiday

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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

The Ink Spots

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The Ink Spots were a Vocal group who gained world wide fame in the 1930s and 1940s. They had a unique musical style and landed over 30 hits on the US Pop Charts with 18 of them on the top 10 during the 1940's. 

The Ink Spots formed in 1934 in Indianapolis. The original line-up included Charlie Fuqua, Deek Watson, Jerry Daniels and Orville Jones.  They achieved so initial success when touring the United Kingdom with Jack Hylton's Orchestra.  Their early record releases were not commercially successful but they were steadily gaining a following.

In 1936, Daniels was replaced by Bill Kenny. When Kenny added his unusual high tenor ballad singing style with the rest of The Ink Spots, the result was almost magical. This was when things really started to happen for the vocal group and this lineup is considered by most to be their "classic" lineup.  

In January of 1939, the band recorded "If I Didn't Care."  This ballad became one of their biggest hits and has sold over 19 million copies through the years. It was also their first of many, many recordings to reach the US Pop Charts.

Listen to: "If I Didn't Care" by The Ink Spots

In 1943, singer and guitarist Fuqua was drafted into the US Army and Jones died in October of 1944, after collapsing on stage in New York City.  This started a merry-go-round of line-up changes within the band that lasted until their break up in 1954. 

An interesting note: Since the Ink Spots broke up in 1954, there have been over 100 vocal groups calling themselves "The Ink Spots" without any rights to the name, and without any original members of the group. These groups often have claimed to be "2nd generation" or "3rd generation" Ink Spots.

You can hear many of The Ink Spots ballads right here on Swing City Radio.

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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Soundie: Jukebox Saturday Night

Picture from Jukebox Saturday Night

In this video, The Modernaires do a great job with Glenn Miller's classic, "Jukebox Saturday Night".  The Modernaires in this 1944 Soundie are Tommy Morgan, Hal Dickinson, Fran Scott, and Ralph Brewster. Dickinson and Brewster were members of the Modernaires with Glenn Miller.  The female vocalist in this Soundie is Harriet Clark.  Clark sang with Sonny Dunham and Charlie Barnet at different points of her career and did a fantastic job standing in for Paula Kelly.  Paula Kelly was pregnant at the time this was filmed.  

In my opinion, this is a fantastic cover of the song.  Harriet Clark is a very good vocalist and I wish she would have made more recordings.  Ralph Brewster is also an amazing singer and a true talent.  The song is just as upbeat and fun as the original and the filming for this Soundie was done well.  In 1944, The Modernaires were still associated with Glenn Miller who was in the military leading the Army Air Force Band at that time.

Watch: The Modernaires perform "Jukebox Saturday Night"

Note: There are also rumors that Harry James was on set and provided the famous Trumpet solo for this recording. I have not been able to confirm that, and I doubt that it's him.

So, when you get a chance check out this entertaining video and maybe have a Soda Pop Rickey while watching.  Enjoy!

Remember:  If you would like access to Bonus Content and Podcast Extras then join our Patreon and become a Hepcat.  It's a great way to support the station.  

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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Happy Birthday: Doris Day

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Happy Birthday to big band vocalist Doris Day.  Doris was born on April 3, 1922 in Cincinnati, OH.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Doris Day and hear a couple of her songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - April 3: Doris Day


Podcast Extras are available for Hepcats!
To become a Hepcat, simply join our Patreon for instant access to All Types of Bonus Content, Podcast Extras, Specials and so much more.  It's also a great way to support Swing City Radio and The Big Band and Swing Podcast.


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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Podcast: Episode 55

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - In the Mood for Contrasts - 

Episode 55 includes music from Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Johnny Mercer, Valaida Snow and much more. We also learn how to make your bath a real pleasure.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Remember:  If you would like access to Bonus Content and Podcast Extras then join our Patreon and become a Hepcat.  It's a great way to support the station.  

Check it out at: SupportSwing.com

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

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