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A Kiss To Build a Dream On
Written: 1935 (current title and revised lyric, 1951)
For a complete listing of songs used in the original production of this show/movie, see IMDB soundtrack.
According to Thomas Hischak in his Tin Pan Alley Song Encylopedia, Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar wrote a song titled "Moonlight on the Meadow" in 1935 for the Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera, but it was not used. The songwriters, who after many tries were unable to interest a publisher in the song, showed it to Oscar Hammerstein II, who liked the melody, took an interest and suggested a new title as well as some changes in the lyrics. The song became "A Kiss To Build a Dream On," which was finally introduced by Kay Brown and Louis Armstrong in the 1951 movie The Strip.
Amy Asch in The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II tells the story a bit differently. She indicates that Ruby, Kalmar and Hammerstein collaborated on the song originally, but after being dropped from A Night at the Opera it lay in storage at MGM until Abe Olman, an MGM executive, rescued it in 1949, which led to its introduction in The Strip two years later.
Click here to read the lyrics for "A Kiss To Build a Dream On." This version of the lyrics does not include the
verse. To hear the verse sung, listen to Wesla Whitfield on the
Cafe Songbook Main Stage above. As Wesla sings the verse, it goes as follows:
How am I to bear this separation?
Give me just a little hope to cling to,
Fan the flame of my imagination,
So I can dream till we meet again.
Editor's note: Wesla Whitfiled is in the habit of singing the verse in virtually all of her performances and recordings, a habit not shared by many other performers. Checking The Complete lyrics reveals that her rendering is true to the original.
The complete, authoritative lyrics for "A Kiss To Build a Dream On" can be found in:
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Sean, 10/27/2014: Hi, I wonder can anyone help me or point me in the right direction. I'm just completing an independent Irish film called BANSHEE BLACKTOP, An Irish Ghost Story and would love to use Kay Brown's wonderful rendition of A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON in our final scene...but I cannot seem to find any information as to Kay Brown's estate to ask for usage in the movie...does anyone have a link or a contact, someone I could chat to about it? The movie is low budget and we don't have much funds but I was hoping at least we could communicate with someone who would know...would appreciate any help, Thanks in advance, Sean Garland
Cafe Songbook, 10/28/2014: Typically rights are controlled through ASCAP or BMI licensing agencies. You may find something on either of their websites.
Cafe Songbook, 11/09/2014. There's a good chance Kay Brown never recorded "A Kiss To Build a Dream On" but only perfromed it in the movie The Strip (MGM 1951). If this is true, rights to use that portion of the soundtrack would have to be obtained from MGM, or a third party to whom they might be able to direct you. Try Googling MGM Rights/Permissions or something of the sort.
Kay Brown, "A Kiss to Build a Dream on" in The Strip: jfmanluke
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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet: Selected Recordings of
"A Kiss To Build a Dream On"
(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)
Notes: (Please complete or pause one
video before starting another.)