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.
While commenting on the Yellen/Harold Arlen song "Sweet and Hot" [written for the 1931 Broadway show You Said It], Alec Wilder comments on Yellen's influence in getting Arlen's cantor father to loosen up and allow his son to do what he wanted with his life: "Forget it," Yellen told Arlen's father who didn't want Harold to drop out of school, "He's gonna be a songwriter." Wilder also notes that Yellen's down-to-earth view of life is also reflected in a line from "Sweet and Hot": "I don't like high-brows who arch their eyebrows when a jazz tune is played" (Wilder, p. 257 hardcover Ed.).
Ed.'s note: Yellen's common-man attitude as expressed above does not exactly correspond to his oft-cited disapproval of the Democrats using his song "Happy Days Are Here Again" as the theme song for their convention that nominated FDR for president in 1932 because he was a Republican.
David Ewen. American Songwriters, New York: The H. W. Wilson Co., 1987 (includes 146 bios of composers and lyricists)
"My Yiddishe Momme"
Arnold Shaw, in his book The Jazz Age, recounts the story of how the song "My Yiddishe Momme," which now seems virtually a folk song, originated with a Tin Pan Alley song writer as a tribute to his mother who had recently passed away. Jack Yellen wrote the lyric and an unfinished melody with no intention of publishing it. A year later in 1925, he showed it to his sometimes writing partner composer Lew Pollack who produced a finished melody. Still later Yellen showed the song to the now legendary (and Jewish) singer Sophie Tucker (Shaw, pp. 203-204).
David Ewen in his book American Songwriters takes up the story from there. When Yellen sang the song for Tucker, "she burst into tears," but suggested to Yellen that he change title to "Jewish" or "Hebrew" Momme. "Yellen not only refused but convinced Tucker to sing the chorus in Yiddish. She introduced the song at the Palace Theater in New York in 1925 and brought down the house."
A Tucker recording of the song [She recorded it in both English and Yiddish. Listen below.] reached number 5 on the charts in 1928. Ewen quotes Tucker that "I have found whenever I sang 'My Yiddishe Momme' in the United States or Europe, gentiles have loved the song [without needing] to understand the Yiddish words. They knew by instinct what I was saying" (Ewen, p. 445).
Jack Yellenresearch resources in print (listed chronologically):
ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, New York: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Cattell/Bowker, Fourth edition, 1980 (dates, collaborators, shows/movies, songs, etc., entry p. 556)
David Ewen. American Songwriters, An H. W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary. New York: The H. W. Wilson Co., 1987 (includes 146 bios of composers and lyricists). -- a wide selection of used copies is available at abebooks.com (entry pp. 444-446).
Arnold Shaw, The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987 (multiple references to Yellen and to his song "My Yiddishe Mama" and how Sophie Tucker came to sing it.).
Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball (Eds.), Reading Lyrics, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000 (pp. 143-147 overview plus lyrics to seven songs).
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.