One-hundred, ten years ago…
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling is a lighthearted song in tribute to Ireland and was very popular in June 1913. Its lyrics were written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr., set to music composed by Ernest Ball, for Olcott’s production of The Isle O’ Dreams and, Olcott sang the song in the show. It was first published in 1912, at a time when songs in tribute to a romanticised Ireland were very numerous […], both in Britain and the United States. During the First World War, the famous tenor John McCormack recorded the song.
The song continued to be a familiar standard for generations. Decades later, it was used as the opening song on the radio show Duffy’s Tavern. The song has been recorded on over 200 singles and albums, by many famous singers, including Bing Crosby, Connie Francis and Roger Whittaker.
As I have stated in previous posts, Billboard’s charting abilities, in the early 20th Century, is difficult to navigate. My first stop, for these early pieces, is the Tsort site. Playback FM is very helpful, too. Digging around in the Wayback Machine can be a complete rat maze. The data is there but, how much time do you devote to searching for it.
There was a Shamrock Summit in March 1985, apparently, in Canada (which I don’t remember). Starting on St. Patrick’s Day, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Ronald Reagan met & talked for two days. Remember the Acid Rain Scare back then? It was seen as a Turning Point in U.S.-Canada Relations (both Trudeaus don’t play well with others?) and the closing ceremonies were televised, with the men & their wives singing the song (Mulroney & Reagan are Irish surnames). I find the meeting in Quebec City and the singing of an Irish song, ironic and amusing. ~ Vic
♦ Irish Eyes Are Smiling (The Account of Composer Ernest R. Ball’s Life/IMDb/1944)
♦ Still Something To Smile About (Pocono Record/Marta Gouger/Wayback Machine/03-06-2007)
♦ When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (Irish Music Daily/Pat/No Date Given)
♦ List Of Movies Using The Song
Sixty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on Billboard (pre-hot 100 era) was Oh! My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa) performed by Eddie Fisher. A lamentation, sung by a young woman grieving the loss of her clown-father, the song was written by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard in 1939 for the musical Der schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike). Reproduced and re-issued in 1950 as Das Feuerwerk (The Firework), the musical was made into a German film, Fireworks, in 1954 starring Lilli Palmer.
Trumpeter Eddie Calvert had a #1 with an instrumental version of the song in the UK at the very same time Fisher’s version was the #1 in the US.
On March 8, 1967, television audiences were treated to a version of the song by Jim Nabors, in character as Gomer Pyle, in the Season 3 episode (#85) “Sing a Song of Papa”. On October 24, 1991, Krusty the Clown sang the song as O mein Papa on The Simpsons in the Season 3 episode Like Father, Like Clown, a twist on the young woman’s sorrow over her father.
This song has been covered by many other artists, including The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Ray Anthony (last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra), The Bobbettes, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Björk (as “Pabbi minn”).