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Vincent Youmans wrote the music for what eventually would become the song "Hallelujah!" some ten years before it hit the boards in the Broadway show "Hit the Deck." As William Zinsser tells it, Youmans' talents were recognized by march king John Philip Sousa who was bandmaster at the Great Lakes Naval Station just north of Chicago where Youmans was stationed during WWI. Youmans had given a melody to Sousa who liked it so much that soon it was being played at bases around the country.
Ten years later, remembering its success with America's sailors, Youmans resurrected [the melody] on Broadway for Hit the Deck. Titled "Hallelujah!" and given a suitably exultant lyric by [its lyricists] Leo Robin and Clifford Grey, it turned out to be no less popular with civilians and has been around ever since, its call to meeting hard to resist.
Sing Hal-le-lu-jah! Hal-le-lu-jah!"
And you'll shoo the
Blues away . . .
Philip Furia and Michael Lasser put the song in the category of a 1920s "cheer-up" piece that borrowed its spirit not so much from a military march but from "the white revivalist tradition" of the time: "Satan lies a-waitin' and creatin' skies of gray / But hallelujah, hallelujah, he helps to shoo the blues away" (Furia and Lasser, p. 80).
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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet: Selected Recordings of
(All Record/Video Cabinet entries
include a music-video
of this page's featured song.
The year given is for when the studio
track was originally laid down
or when the live performance was given.)
(*indicates accompanying music-video)
Performer 1 (year)
Performer 2 (year)
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video before starting another.)