“Oh, no, it isn’t the trees . . . .”

September 23, 2013

The young JACK BENNY (Benjamin Kubelsky) with his violin.

The young JACK BENNY (Benjamin Kubelsky) with his violin.

I was about to watch an episode of the Jack Benny Program recently when I became absorbed in the opening theme. The theme is associated not just with the television series but with Jack Benny himself. The song, “Love in Bloom,” was not  written by amateurs. The music was by Ralph Rainger and the lyrics by Leo Robin. Ralph Rainger, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, wrote a lot of music for movies between 1930 and 1942. One of his compositions, “Thanks for the Memory,” written for The Big Broadcast of 1938, won an Academy Award. (I’ll have more to say about that song in a later post.) Leo Robin, who wrote the lyrics to “Love in Bloom,” is also a member of the Hall of Fame. His work included “Thanks for the Memory,” “Beyond the Blue Horizon,” “Prisoner of Love,” and “Blue Hawaii.”

“Love in Bloom” was introduced in 1934 in the film She Loves Me Not. It was sung in a duet by Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle.

LEO ROBIN

LEO ROBIN

Crosby, that same year, was the first to record the song, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Kitty Carlisle — an elegant woman whom, incidentally, I once visited at her Manhattan apartment — liked the song enough that she considered adopting it as her own theme. She scuttled that idea, however, when Benny made the song his signature, frequently playing it, and deliberately butchering it, on his violin.

The song has qualities that don’t come across in most of Benny’s renditions. You can see for yourself as Crosby and Kitty Carlisle sing it in the film. Click HERE.

You can also see a hiliarious routine in which Benny and Liberace play the song on the keyboard and violin on a 1969 episode of Liberace’s TV show. Here Benny lets himself show, for a while at least, that he was more competent on the violin than he cared to admit. Click HERE.

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4 Responses to ““Oh, no, it isn’t the trees . . . .””

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I’d forgotten “Love in Bloom”. In fact, I didn’t know the title, and I didn’t remember it as a song associated with Benny until halfway through the video of Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle.

    Benny was a funny performer – and I think a naturally funny man. The clip of he and Liberace sent me off to find a bit more of Benny himself with his violin – quite a nice way to spend an afternoon break out of the heat. Summer seems reluctant to let go down here. 😉

    • charlespaolino Says:

      Summer hasn’t been all that reticent up here. Benny was one of the few actors who could prompt belly laughs by standing stock still and saying nothing. There are examples of that in the Liberace sequence. It didn’t matter how often he did it, it was still funny, because he made it so much a part of his character.

  2. Pristine Says:

    I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard “Love in Bloom” before, but I just listened and it is lovely!

    Thanks for sharing and for introducing me to it!

    • charlespaolino Says:

      I have written several posts, and will write more, focusing on individual songs, the composers and lyricists, and the artists who have been identified with the title. I’m glad you liked this one. I’ll another one sometime this week, plus a movie preview.

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