Cocktails for Two: The many lives of giant songwriter Sam Coslow New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1977
A Pocketful of Dreams--The Early Years
Boston: Little Brown, 2001.
At a time when Coslow and Johnston were in Hollywood writing songs exclusively for the movies, Johnston came up with an idea for a song he thought would be good for Bing Crosby to record independently. In 1931 Crosby was just becoming popular on a national level and both songwriters were fans. Johnston approached his partner Coslow with a title and a musical phrase to go with it and Coslow liked what he heard, except he was doubtful about getting anywhere with a song not headed for a film because as he said to Johnston, "the radio bands aren't playing anything these days except movie songs."
Johnston reminded Coslow that Bing was singing with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra at The Coconut Grove in Hollywood, performances that went out over the airwaves on the NBC radio network greatly increasing the chances of success. Coslow's enthusiasm for the song quickly grew and the team "finished 'Just One More Chance' before the afternoon was over, tailoring the song especially for Crosby's croony ballad style."
Eddie Janis, manager for the publisher West Coast Famous Music, was consulted and his support led to the song writing team playing and singing it for Bing who officially introduced the song a few nights later on Arnheim's broadcast from the Grove. Coslow recalls, "We were at the Grove ourselves to hear the song's debut that night, and heard the crowd of Hollywoodites on the dance floor demanding encore after encore. Bing had stopped the show with the song."
On the night of the debut, the producer-director Mack Sennett was in the audience. Loving Bing and the song, he asked Crosby to make a short film to be tilted "One More Chance" for which he would be paid $750, a very big deal for Crosby at that point in his career and especially helpful in that he had just married the starlet Dixie Lee.
Bing Crosby singing "Just One More Chance"
in a 1931 Mack Sennett short film--later used
in the 1947 feature length film "The Road to Hollywood."
Crosby recorded the song for Brunswick and thanks to Jack Kapp head of the record company, "Just One More Time" was in the record stores almost immediately after the sheet music. This was the first time Crosby, instead of the orchestra leader, received top billing on a record, a sign of the singer's growing prominence. Within a month the song was number one nationally. It continued to be instrumental in Crosby's rise having been heard by William S. Paley, head of CBS, who signed the singer after hearing his recording. (Coslow, Cocktails for Two, pp. 110-114)
According to Crosby biographer Gary Giddins, "Bing was about to become the defining voice of his era, and for many people, this ["Just One More Chance"] was the salvo that announced his arrival. It did for him, in 1931, what "All or Nothing at All" would do for Frank Sinatra in 1943, what "Heartbreak Hotel" would do for Elvis Presley in 1956, what "I Want to Hold Your Hand" would do for the Beatles in 1964." (Giddins, Crosby, p. 246).