Search Tips: 1) Click "Find on This Page" button to activate page search box. 2) When searching for a name (e.g. a songwriter), enter last name only. 3) When searching for a song title on the catalog page, omit an initial "The" or "A". 4) more search tips.
Harry Barris was a popular singer and songwriter, born to Jewish parents in New York City, and as described by Gary Giddins, was "as frenetic as Bing was calm . . . the quintessence of Jazz Age show buiness, or at least though he was." Giddins portrays him as "small, wiry, and moon-faced with glittery eyes, and dark hair slicked back and parted in the middle."
Barris first made his mark as a member of the Rhythm Boys, a trio of singers also including Crosby and Crosby's boyhood friend Al Rinker. The group's most well known gigs were first with Paul Whiteman, which included singing several numbers in the film King of Jazz (1930). The Rhythm boys recorded both with Whiteman, with whom they were a star attraction between 1927 and 1930, and on their own with Barris on piano. After Whiteman fired them for undependable behavior (usually caused by drinking too much), they landed a job with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, which led to Crosby's first hit "I Surrender Dear," written by Barris (music) and Gordon Clifford (words) in 1931.
Barris appeared in scores of films between 1931 and 1950, usually as a pianist and singer. Later he was the night club pianist In The Lost Weekend (1945) who humiliates Ray Milland by singing "Somebody Stole My Purse." Off screen, Barris was a successful songwriter composing the music for "Mississippi Mud," "I Surrender Dear," "It Must Be True," and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams."
Plagued by a life-long drinking problem, Barris died in Burbank, California, at the age of 57.
Sources:Wikipedia; the Harry Barris Bio. at Solid, and Gary Giddins, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams.
Alec Wilder, distinguished critic of the music of The Songbook, finds that he "must mention, if only in passing, a sweet little 1930 song by Harry Barris called 'It Must Be True'." Concerned that he is breaking his own rule in discussing a song that "does not break any new ground," Wilder justifies himself by saying, although "it's up to nothing but fun and games, its honesty and camaraderie deserve illustration." He concludes in what would seem to be the spirit of Barris, that "whenever I see a song that seems free of strict commercialism, and has the quality of having been fun to write as opposed to having been ground out, I am impelled to mention it" (Wilder, pp. 469-470, hardcover Ed.)
Harry Barris with Shirley Ross and The Kingsmen perform "Feelin' High" in the 1934 movie
Apparently Durante was also invited.
Submit comments on songs, songwriters, performers, etc.
Feel free to suggest an addition or correction.
Please read our Comments Guidelines before making a submission. (Posting of comments is subject to the guidelines.
Not all comments will be posted.)
Borrowed material (text): The sources of all quoted and paraphrased text are cited. Such content is used under the rules of fair use to further the educational objectives of CafeSongbook.com. CafeSongbook.com makes no claims to rights of any kind in this content or the sources from which it comes.
Borrowed material (images): Images of CD, DVD, book and similar product covers are used courtesy of either Amazon.com or iTunes/LinkShare with which CafeSongbook.com maintains an affiliate status. All such images are linked to the source from which they came (i.e. either iTunes/LinkShare or Amazon.com).
Any other images that appear on CafeSongbook.com pages are either in the public domain or appear through the specific permission of their owners. Such permission will be acknowledged in this space on the page where the image is used.
For further information on Cafe Songbook policies with regard to the above matters, see our "About Cafe Songbook" page (link at top and bottom of every page).
Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.
Names of songwriters with only one song credit in the catalog are linked to the Cafe Songbook page for that song, on which may be found information about the songwriter or a link to an information source for him or her.
Please note: Cafe Songbook pages for songwriters are currently in various stages of development.