Johnny Burke (lyricist)
|Born||October 3, 1908|
|Origin||Antioch, California, U.S.A.|
|Died||February 25, 1964(aged 55)|
|Associated acts||Jimmy Van Heusen|
Johnny Burke (October 3, 1908 — February 25, 1964) was a lyricist, widely regarded as one of the finest writers of popular songs in America between the 1920s and 1950s.
Burke was born in Antioch, California. When still young, the family moved to Chicago, where Johnny's father founded a construction business. As a youth, he studied the piano and some drama also. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he played piano in the orchestra. After graduating, he joined the Chicago office of the Irving Berlin Publishing Company in 1926, as a pianist and song salesman.
Irving Berlin, Inc. transferred Burke to its New York City office, where he began to write lyrics in collaboration with composer Harold Spina. In 1932, they wrote "Shadows on the Swanee", followed in 1933 by "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore", their first big hit, for the Guy Lombardo Orchestra. In 1934, they wrote "You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew" which was a novelty hit for Fats Waller, as was "My Very Good Friend, the Milkman". They wrote many songs that were played by leading bands of the day, including those led by Ben Pollack, Paul Whiteman and Ozzie Nelson.
1936 saw the end of the Burke - Spina partnership, as Burke left for Hollywood. His first partner there was Arthur Johnston. He then worked with Jimmy Monaco, but he was to make his mark in collaboration with Jimmy van Heusen.
The team of Burke and Van Heusen turned out some of the great hit tunes of the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. Burke was the only major composer to spend his entire career with just one studio, Paramount Pictures. His primary function as a lyricist was working on Bing Crosby films. Of the 41 films on which he worked, 25 starred Bing Crosby. Seventeen songs were substantial hits, including "Pennies from Heaven", "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams", "Only Forever", "Moonlight Becomes You" and "Sunday, Monday and Always". "Swinging on a Star", from the Bing Crosby film Going My Way, won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1944, one of seven Academy Awards won by the film.
He wrote the words and music to the Nat King Cole song "If Love Ain't There."
Among the landmarks of Burke's songwriting career were:
- with Harold Spina:
- "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
- "You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew"
- "My Very Good Friend the Milkman"
- "Shadows on the Swanee"
- "The Beat of My Heart"
- "Now You've Got Me Doing It"
- "I've Got a Warm Spot in My Heart for You"
- with Arthur Johnston:
- "Pennies from Heaven"
- "One Two, Button Your Shoe"
- "Double or Nothing"
- "The Moon Got in My Eyes"
- "All You Want to Do Is Dance"
- with Jimmy Monaco:
- "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams"
- "Don't Let That Moon Get Away"
- "An Apple for the Teacher"
- "On the Sentimental Side"
- "My Heart is Taking Lessons"
- "That Sly Old Gentleman from Featherbed Lane"
- "Sing a Song of Moonbeams"
- "East Side of Heaven"
- "Where the Turf Meets the Surf" (with Bing Crosby)
- with Jimmy van Heusen:
- "Only Forever"
- "Too Romantic"
- "Sweet Potato Piper"
- "Polka Dots and Moonbeams"
- "Moonlight Becomes You"
- "Sunday, Monday, or Always"
- "Going My Way"
- "Swinging on a Star"
- "It Could Happen to You"
- "And His Rockin' Horse Ran Away"
- "The First One Hundred Years"
- "But Beautiful"
- "Appalachicola, Fla"
- "Here's That Rainy Day" (from the Broadway musical Carnival in Flanders)
- "It's An Old Spanish Custom" (from Carnival In Flanders)
- "Oh, You Crazy Moon"
- "To See You Is to Love You"
- "Suddenly It's Spring"
- "Like Someone in Love"
- "You May Not Love Me"
In 1939, Burke wrote the lyrics for "Scatterbrain", with music by Frankie Masters and "What's New?" with Bob Haggart (1914–1998). In 1955, Burke added lyrics to a tune by "cool" jazz pianist Erroll Garner entitled "Misty".
The 1956 film, The Vagabond King was Burke's last Hollywood work. Eight years later, he died at age 55.
Johnny Burke was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
- Johnny Burke at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Johnny Burke at the Internet Movie Database
- Johnny Burke's entry at ASCAP