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Vintage sheet music for
"On the Loose
" (piano solo)
music by Harry Brooks
For Barry Singer, Andy Razaf's biographer, Harry Brooks was "in many ways, the most legendary and certainly the most mysterious member of the creative team" responsible for the revue Hot Feet, which had in its score both "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Black and Blue," which are much more associated with songwriters Fats Waller (music) and Andy Razaf (lyrics) than they are with Brooks, who shares music credit on both.
Singer goes on to explain that Brooks was the keyboardist in the house band at Connie's Inn, where Hot Feet first opened, but beyond some credit for songs in an earlier revue, Snapshots of 1921, had no known songwriting experience.
The provocative mystery surrounding Harry Brooks centers to this day around one inexplicable fact. Though the score Razaf and Waller created for their Connie's Inn debut proved to include many of their most distinguished and, in many ways, signature song compositions, Harry Brooks, for reasons that have eluded history, received full credit along side the Razaf/Waller team as co- melodist for the entire score.
Many theories have been put forward. The most common was that the producer needed a composer to supplement Waller's work either because he was famously unreliable or because he had been in jail for part of this period for failure to pay alimony, until he was paroled in February of 1929. In any case documents have been found that state that four parties (Waller, Razaf, Brooks and the producer, Leonard Harper) would share equally in deciding what would happen to the score--though only Razaf's, Waller's and Brooks' names wound up on the copyrights. For his part, Razaf claims he also worked on the music and that Brooks was in fact the arranger. (See also Critics Corner on the Cafe Songbook page for "Ain't Misbehavin'.")
Two Harry Brooks songs not included in the Cafe Songbook catalog:
"Saturday" (music by Harry Brooks, words by Sidney D. Mitchell, 1921), from the musical review "Snapshots of 1921," Performed by Victor Arden and Phil Ohman (Piano duet), Recorded September 10, 1921, Victor 18809
"Swing Mr. Charlie" (written by J. Russell Robinson, Irving Taylor and Harry Brooks; recorded by Judy Garland in 1936 at about thirteen years old, backed by Bob Crosby and his Orchestra. Described on dei514's YouTube channel as another 'novelty' number referring to American slavery. 'Mister Charlie,' is the common reference to a white slave owner. Not a novelty subject at all."
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Judy Garland performs "Swing Mr. Charlie.": dei514
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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.