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You Are My Lucky Star

Written: 1935

Music by: Nacio Herb Brown

Words by: Arthur Freed

Written for: Broadway Melody of 1936
(movie, 1935)

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Louis Armstrong

performing

"You Are My Lucky Star"

recorded with the Louis Armstrong Orchestra
for Decca Records
in New York City October 3,1935.

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See more about this performance below.

More Performances of "You Are My Lucky Star"
in the Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet
(Video credit )

 

Cafe Songbook Reading Room

"You Are My Lucky Star"

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About the Movie Broadway Melody of 1936/ Origins of the Song

Other songs written for Broadway Melody of 1936 currently included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook: none ("All I Do Is Dream of You" by Freed and Brown is used in the movie (as played on a record sung in French) but was not written for the film.)

 

For a listing of all songs used in this movie, see IMDB soundtracks.

 

(Read our discussion on criteria (currently unavailable)for inclusion of songs in The Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook).

 

 

 

 

DVD: Broadway Melody 1936 and 1938
Broadway Melody of 1936

 

Arthur Freed had a background significantly different than most of the other popular songwriters of the early twentieth century. Although he worked in New York City for a short time, he was not a New Yorker but rather from a cultured Hungarian family that lived in Charleston South Carolina where Arthur was born and then moved to Seattle where he was raised. He attended the prestigious Phillips-Exeter Academy in New Hampshire which was about as far away as possible culturally speaking from the lower east side of Manhattan -- though like Berlin and Gershwin he did do a tour as a song plugger onTin Pan Alley. Returning to the West Coast he rejected his art-dealer father's wish that he attend the University of Washington and wound up in Los Angeles where his first hit was "Singin' in the Rain" (1927) written with Nacio Herb Brown who was to become his long-time songwriting partner. (For more about Freed go to his Cafe Songbook page.)

Like Freed, Brown was born far from The Lower East Side in Demming New Mexico, hardly a seed bed of American popular song. And also like Freed it was a move to Los Angeles that got him on the road to songwriting. Unlike so many other writers for The Great American Songbook, Freed and Brown did not become established songwriters in New York who then came to Hollywood to cash in by writing for the movies. Although they did begin writing for a stage production, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, in which their song "Singin' in the Rain" first appeared and as a result of which were "discovered" by Irving Thalberg, MGM producer, who hired them to write the score for The Broadway Melody (1929) starting them on their way to starring roles in the history of American popular song. (For more about Brown go to his Cafe Songbook page.)

 


book cover: MGM's Greatest Musicals The Arthur Freed Unit
Hugh Fordin, M-G-M's Greatest Musicals
: The Arthur Freed Unit, Da Capo Press, 1996 (unabridged reprint of The World of Entertainment!: Hollywood's Greatest Musicals, New York Doubleday, 1975.

 



"You Are My Lucky Star," is performed by Gene Kelly and
Debbie Reynolds for the 1952 MGM movie Singin' in the Rain.
(In this outtake, Reynolds is actually singing, though in the final cut,
she, quite ironically, is dubbed by Betty Noyes.)

Although "You Are My Lucky Star" was not written for the movie Singin' in the Rain, it is from that movie that most people today are likely to know the song. Like the song "Singin' in the Rain" itself, "You Are My Lucky Star," was not written for the movie Singin' in the Rain. written by Arthur Freed (words) and Nacio Herb Brown (music) for a previous MGM movie musical of theirs. "You Are My Lucky Star," was written for the 1movie Broadway Melody of 1936, starring Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell (in her first starring role) and Robert Taylor.


Broadway Melody of 1936. trailer

In Hugh Fordin's book MGM's Greatest Musicals The Arthur Freed Unit, Fordin writes:

In the spring of 1935, the studio [MGM] announced Broadway Melody of 1936 for immediate production. The film would be based on an original screen story by Moss Hart. There was an all star cast, including Jack Benny, Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell and Frances Langford. Because this was to be a big musical, naturally their top songwriting team, Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, would supply the songs.

Freed and Brown went to work and in three weeks' time came up with a score that included some new and recent hits from their ever growing catalogue: "I've Gotta Feelin' You're Foolin'," "Sing Before Breakfast," "You Are My Lucky Star," and Broadway Rhythm."

Fordin's comment just above opens a door that allows one to speculate that "You Are My Lucky Star" might not have been written specifically for the movie but may have already existed in the Brown-Freed catalog, lying around, as it were, in some trunk of theirs, hence the term "trunksong," though it is not impossible to imagine professional songwriters such as Brown and Freed turning out the entire list above in three weeks.

It was just about this time, late summer 1935, that Freed received a call from Jack Robbins, head of MGM's music publishing division about a great young singer, "a little girl." The little girl turned out to be twelve year old Judy Garland and her resulting audition at Metro produced a sensation that shook the studio. After she was signed in September of '35, her stage-mother mother wanted her to be as busy as possible; and so got her daughter a gig singing on Wallace Beery's radio show promoting songs from the new MGM musical Broadway Melody of 1936 that had recently opened. It is likely that she sang "You Are My Lucky Star" on that show, but we have not found that recording, but below she sings "Broadway Rhythm." another song from the movie.


Twelve year-old Judy Garland sings "Broadway Rhythm"
from Broadway Melody of 1936 on a 1935 Wallace Beery radio show.

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"You Are My Lucky Star" appears throughout the movie: during the opening credits; sung by Frances Langford with a chorus; sung and danced to in a ballet by Eleanor Powell (with Powell dubbed by Marjorie Lane while Powell is dancing); sung by Powell as a solo before she tap dances to the song; and otherwise heard here and there, such as in the final scene where it is reprised by Robert Taylor.

 

Here are some clips of "You Are My Lucky Star from The Broadway Melody of 1936:



Frances Langford with chorus sings "You Are My Lucky Star" in
Broadway Melody of 1936.
(This clip begins with Harry Stockwell singing "Broadway Melody.")




Eleanor Powell sings "You Are My Lucky Star" (just before she taps it) in
Broadway Melody of 1936.



Eleanor Powell dances in ballet to "You Are My Lucky Star" in
Broadway Melody of 1936. -- vocal dubbed by Marjorie Lane

 

Early Recordings of "You Are My Lucky Star"

Broadway Melody of 1936 was released in August of 1935. The biggest hit record for the song was by the Eddie Duchin Orchestra with vocal by Lew Sherwood, recorded before the release of the film but not released until October of '35. Movie studios were often interested in releasing songs from their films in advance of the movie's release to draw attention to their production. The producers probably regretted Duchin's recording was not released earlier because it quickly went to number one on the charts and remained there for several weeks. See the Cafe Songbook Record Cabinet for Duchin's recording as well as those those by The Dorsey Brothers, and Louis Armstrong, all contemporaneous with the movie's release. See also there, later recordings ranging from the 1940s through the Twenty-first century.

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Critics Corner

Movie Music of Nacio Herb Brown
Broadway Musicals
The Classic Movie Musicals
of Nacio Herb Brown

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Singin' in the Rain

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"You Are My Lucky Star" and "Singin' in the Rain" took curiously similar and different paths to their eventual status asstandardsongs. The obvious similarity is that both songs were written by the west coast songwriting team of Nacio Herb Brown (music) and Arthur Freed (lyrics). The parallel continues in the fact that both songs are known by most people from the second half of the twentieth century through the present (the first quarter of the twenty-first) because they were used in the classic 1952 movie Singin' in the Rain, though neither song was written for that movie. They both got into that 1952 score because Arthur Freed liked to use songs he and Brown had written in the past in movies he was currently producing. Freed and Brown originally wrote "Singin' in the Rain" for a little known Hollywood stage revue in 1929 and "You Are My Lucky Star" for the score of the better known 1935 movie Broadway Melody of 1936. (As noted above "Lucky Star" might have been written by Brown and Freed sometime before Broadway Melody of 1936 and put in their "trunk" until a use for it was found.)
In either case, "You Are My Lucky Star" got lucky a lot earlier than "Singin' in the Rain." Before Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds performed the latter song in their 1952 movie, "You Are My Lucky Star" had already become a hit and was well on its way to becoming a standard because of the kick-start it got from Broadway Melody of '36 and the recordings spawned by the film. The evidence for this can be seen and heard in the Cafe Songbook Record/Video Cabinet above right. Nevertheless, despite its appearance in Broadway Melody of 1936, a number of recordings that made the charts in 1935 (the year of that movie's release), and its continuing popularity for decades after, it never eventually equaled the level of success achieved by "Singin' in the Rain," once that song was catapulted into the firmament by its namesake movie in 1952.

   
   
   
   
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Credits

("You Are My Lucky Star" page)

 

Credits for Videomakers of custom videos used on this page:

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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"You Are My Lucky Star"


(All Record/Video Cabinet entries below
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.)

 

Performer/Recording Index
(*indicates accompanying music-video)

1935
Eddy Duchin Orchestra
(Lew Sherwood vocal)
albums: various

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Notes: Of the four 1935 recorded versions of "You Are My Lucky Star," (Duchin, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey/Eleanor Powell, and Louis Armstrong) Duchin's was the only one to reach number one. It first appeared on the charts on October 19, stayed there for nine weeks, and was number one for three weeks.
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1935
Louis Armstrong
album: Thanks a Million

Music-Video: See Cafe Songbook
Main Stage (this page)

Amazon iTunes

Notes: All the tracks on the album Thanks a Million were recorded in New York City between 10/03/1935 and 05/01/1940. Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra recorded "You Are My Lucky Star" on October 3, 1935 in New York City. At the session they also laid down "I'm In The Mood For Love" by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields; "La Cucaracha" by Dominico Savion and Ned Washington; and "Got A Bran' New Suit" by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. With the exception of "Got A Bran' New Suit," all of these tracks are on this album.
Session personnel included:
Louis Armstrong (Trumpet, Vocal)
Leonard Davis (Trumpet)
Gus Aiken (Trumpet)
Louis Bacon (Trumpet)
Harry White (Trombone)
Jimmy Archey (Trombone)
Henry Jones (Alto Saxophone)
Charlie Holmes (Alto Saxophone)
Bingie Madison (Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone)
Greely Walton (Tenor Saxophone)
Luis Russell (Piano)
Lee Blair (Guitar)
Pops Foster (Bass)
Barbarin, Paul (Drums, vibraphone)
(from the Louis Armstrong Discography)
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1935
The Dorsey Brothers
(vocal by Bob Eberle)

album: Original Hits
The Dorsey Brothers


same track as on album referenced above

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Notes: Recorded 09/11/1935
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1935
Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra
(vocal by Eleanor Powell)

albums: various

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Notes: The music-video (from the album You Are My Lucky Star, The Bluebird Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 01 - 1935) above includes both Eleanor Powell's vocal and her tap routine from the movie Broadway Melody of 1936 (released 08/1935). She is accompanied by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. The track was recorded October 11, 1935.
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1935
Bing Crosby
album: The Lost Radio Recordings

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Notes: The advance billing for Crosby's performance of "You Are My Lucky Star" on the Kraft Music Hall, on which he is singing in Los Angeles accompanied by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra in New York on December 26, 1935, reads in The Los Angeles Times:

“Paul Whiteman and Bing Crosby will, again be 3000 miles apart for their current Music Hall programme over NBC and KFI at 7 pm.  Maestro Whiteman will present Anna Hamlin, popular American soprano, on his portion of the bill while Crosby will contribute tune hits of the past and present, including ‘Alone’, ‘Dinah’, ‘I Surrender Dear’ and ‘You Are My Lucky Star’”.

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1935
Connie Boswell
album: They Can't Take These Songs Away from Me


same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "This 2-CD set of 1931-46 rarities by this immensely influential singer-Ella Fitzgerald famously cited Connie as her inspiration-is also a star-studded affair. Me Minus You features the Dorsey Brothers, and there are six duets with Bing Crosby including a live Basin Street Blues and a comedic take on Everything Happens to Me . 44 tracks of Connie at her swinging best!" CDUniverse.com. (The iTunes link above is to this track but on a different album.)
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1957
Petula Clark
album: You Are My Lucky Star

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Notes: This CD reissue includes 16 bonus tracks and a previously unreleased version of "Thank You."

You Are My Lucky Star was Petula Clark's first LP of all new songs (Pye Records had issued a pair of 10" long-players in 1956 comprised of singles and B-sides from 1954-1956), and it was even a concept album of sorts, made up entirely of songs associated with Hollywood musicals. This was the Petula Clark of the 1950s, a long way from rock & roll and much closer in spirit to Doris Day (or, stylistically, Shirley Bassey) than to Dusty Springfield. The interpretations here are outstanding in their style -- she gives a playfully lilting performance of "It's Foolish but It's Fun," wraps herself around the sincerity of "Sonny Boy" in a way that it had hardly been heard since its origins decades earlier, and bounces through "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart" with some rippling accompaniment on electric guitar, vibes, and piano. And she takes "Alone," from A Night at the Opera, and imparts a smoldering yearning to the lyric and the word, in sharp contrast to the weepy loneliness inherent in the original Kitty Carlisle performance -- the arrangement, by contrast, has a larger-than-life reverb effect that anticipates the one used on Judy Collins' rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You" some 19 years later. Clark is almost eclipsed by the band on "I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi," but on everything else -- including a sultry "As Time Goes By" and a briskly paced, impassioned "You Are My Lucky Star" -- she quietly dominates the proceedings. . . ." ~ Bruce Eder
at CDUniverse.com.
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1962/3
Sonny Rollins
albums: Our Man in Jazz or
The Complete RCA Victor Recordings


same track as on both albums referenced above

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Notes: Rollins first "You Are My Luck Star" appeared on the 1962/3 LP Our Man in Jazz, (RCA Victor LPM 2612), which is Sonny Rollins' first recording with Don Cherry and one of Rollins earliest LPs made his three-year long self-imposed exile from playing. On the "You Are My Lucky Star" track there is a kind of dueling saxes effect when '"Hawkins sits in with Rollins's band, and, surprisingly, he plays in a bop-oriented mode. On the other hand, Rollins--in an attempt to further highlight the difference between the two horns--plays in an even more contemporary style."
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ü

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1977
Liza Minnelli
album: New York, New York

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Notes: "A movie musical with songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb. They tell the story of the evolution of popular music from the swing era to the singer era and bebop, with reference to the lavish movie musicals of the late 40s. Liza Minnelli sings brilliantly, especially on the title song and on "But the World Goes 'Round," while big-band sax player Georgie Auld handles the music for Robert De Niro" ~ William Ruhlmann
CDUniverse.com.
Orchestral segments from "You Are My Lucky Star" are included in the opening medley of the film (track one of the album).

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1989
Michael Feinstein

Album: The MGM Album

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Feinstein's version is a medley of two Brown/Freed songs: "All I Do is Dream of You" and "You Are My Lucky Star." For both he includes the verse.
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2001/3
Rolf Kühn
album: Smile - Famous Themes from Hollywood

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "Rolf Kuhn's style has evolved through the years. The clarinetist started out playing in German dance bands in the late '40s. He worked with radio orchestras starting in 1952 and moved to the U.S. in 1956. Kuhn subbed for Benny Goodman on a few occasions during 1957-1958, played in the Tommy Dorsey ghost band (1958), and worked in a big band led by Urbie Green (1958-1960). In 1962, Kuhn returned to Germany, where he has explored more adventurous styles of jazz (including dates with his younger brother, keyboardist Joachim Kuhn) but still occasionally shows off his ties to swing. Kuhn recorded with an all-star group called Winner's Circle (1957), Toshiko Akiyoshi (1958), and as a leader starting in 1953, including a 1956 New York quartet date for Vanguard." ~ Scott Yanow at CDUniverse.com.
This CD of themes used in Hollywood movies was recorded in Berlin in June, 2001 and released in 2003.
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