Happy Days Are Here Again

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"Happy Days Are Here Again" is a 1929 song with music by Milton Ager and lyrics by Jack Yellen.[1] The song is a standard that has been interpreted by various artists. It appeared in the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows and was the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1932 presidential campaign.

The song is number 47 on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of "Songs of the Century". In 1986 it received an ASCAP Award for 'Most Performed Feature Film Standards on TV'.[1]

In Chasing Rainbows[edit]

The song was recorded by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra, with vocals by Lou Levin in November 1929[citation needed] and was featured in the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows.[2] The song concluded the picture, in what film historian Edwin Bradley described as a "pull-out-all-the-stops Technicolor finale, against a Great War Armistice show-within-a-show backdrop".[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Today, the song is usually remembered as the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt's successful 1932 presidential campaign. According to Time magazine, it gained prominence after a spontaneous decision by Roosevelt's advisers to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, after a dirge-like version of "Anchors Aweigh", which was Roosevelt's favorite song, was repeated over and over, without enthusiasm, prompting a participant to shout out: "FOR GOD's SAKE, HAVE THEM PLAY SOMETHING ELSE", which caused the band to stop playing the old song, and to play the new song, which drew cheers and applause, and went on to become the Democratic Party's "unofficial theme song for years to come".[4] The song is also associated with the Repeal of Prohibition, which occurred shortly after Roosevelt's election where there were signs saying "Happy days are beer again" and so on.[5]

Matthew Greenwald described the song as "[a] true saloon standard, [and] a Tin Pan Alley standard, and had been sung by virtually every interpreter since the 1940s. In a way, it's the pop version of "Auld Lang Syne".[6]

As of 2006, 76 commercially released albums include versions of the song.[7] The song has appeared in over 80 films, including many from the 1930s.

Barbra Streisand version[edit]

"Happy Days Are Here Again"
Single by Barbra Streisand
from the album The Barbra Streisand Album
B-side"When the Sun Comes Out"
ReleasedNovember 1962
Composer(s)Milton Ager
Lyricist(s)Jack Yellen
Barbra Streisand singles chronology
"Miss Marmelstein"
"Happy Days Are Here Again"
"My Coloring Book"

Another popular recording was made by Barbra Streisand 33 years after the song's first release. While traditionally sung at a brisk pace, Streisand's performance is notable for its slow and expressive rendition.

On The Garry Moore Show, Streisand sang the song during the "That Wonderful Year" skit representing 1929. She performed it ironically as a millionaire who has just lost all of her money and enters a bar, giving the bartender her expensive jewelry in exchange for drinks.

Streisand first recorded the song in October 1962 at Columbia's NYC studio, some months before her first album sessions. This version, arranged and conducted by George Williams became Streisand's first commercial single in November 1962, with "When the Sun Comes Out" as a B-side. Only 500 copies of this single were pressed for the New York market, and no copies were sent to radio stations. This 1962 version was re-released as a single in March 1965 as part of the "Hall of Fame" series with the 1962 recording of "My Coloring Book".

Streisand re-recorded the song in January 1963 for her debut solo The Barbra Streisand Album. Her version included the Introduction, which is rarely sung in most of the recordings

Streisand sang the song opposite Judy Garland, who performed "Get Happy", during an October 1963 broadcast of The Judy Garland Show.[8] The live performance of this medley was first included on Streisand's 1991 box set Just for the Record... and again on her 2002 Duets compilation album.

In June 1967, Streisand performed the song for over 135,000 people at Central Park, captured on the live concert album A Happening in Central Park; the track later appeared on the compilations Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits and The Essential Barbra Streisand.

The song has become a signature part of Streisand's concert repertoire, and she has performed it live on numerous occasions; unique recordings appear on Live Concert at the Forum (1972), One Voice (1987), The Concert (1994), Timeless: Live in Concert (2000), Live in Concert 2006 (2007), Back to Brooklyn (2013), and The Music...The Mem'ries...The Magic! (2017).

Other versions[edit]

  • Annette Hanshaw recorded it in 1930.[9] with Ben Selvin and his Orchestra.
  • In 1930, the Comedian Harmonists recorded their popular German adaptation, Wochenend und Sonnenschein (Weekend and Sunshine, German lyrics by Charles Amberg).
  • The song was sung by prisoners in an ironic comic version in 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932).
  • Television and nightclub comedian Rip Taylor used "Happy Days Are Here Again" for years as his theme song; the music played as he made his entrance carrying a large bag of confetti throwing handfuls at everyone within reach.
  • The song was also used as the entrance and closing theme for comedian Mark Russell's PBS specials that aired from 1975–2004 and featured topical political humor.
  • A recording of the song by Mitch Miller and the Gang was used as the theme for the PBS sports history series The Way It Was in the 1970s.
  • The television show M*A*S*H used an Asian-influenced orchestration of the song on multiple episodes early in the series, in which the female vocalist would sing the verses in Japanese while singing the title in English.
  • The song was used as a jingle in TV commercials for the Volkswagen Rabbit economy family car in 1975.
  • Miss New York 1983 Vanessa Williams performed the song during the talent competition of the Miss America 1984 pageant. Williams went on to win both a preliminary talent award and was crowned Miss America 1984.[10]
  • Vicki Lawrence sang the song while portraying Thelma Harper in the Mama's Family episode "Mama for Mayor: Part 1".
  • The Ovaltineys cover of the song was featured in the 1981 miniseries Goliath Awaits.[11]
  • The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps of Concord, CA used the song to open their 1988 Program and was used again in 2009 as part of their program entitled "1930".
  • The cast of Amen performed the song, with Jester Hairston and Roz Ryan singing solos as their respective characters, Rolly Forbes and Amelia Heterbrink.
  • Walter Strony used the song to open his concert at Chicago Stadium for the 1993 ATOS National Convention
  • The medley version paired with "Get Happy", evoking the 1963 duet by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, was performed in 2010 by Lea Michele (as Rachel Berry) and Chris Colfer (as Kurt Hummel) for the "Duets" episode of the second season of Glee.[12]
  • In 2010, Carrie Fisher sang the song at the beginning of her HBO special, Wishful Drinking.
  • A harmonica rendition was played early in the Christmas-themed pilot episode of The Waltons, entitled "The Homecoming", by one of the Walton children until John Boy requested something more Christmas-y.
  • In July 2013, a rock and roll version of the song was used by Fox in a commercial ad campaign to introduce a new sports channel called Fox Sports 1.[13]
  • The song was used for the closing credits in Boardwalk Empire season 5, episode 3 "What Jesus Said".
  • In 2014, actress Jessica Lange provided a speaking version of the song that was played in the background throughout designer Marc Jacobs' Fall/Winter runway show.
  • The song was featured in the opening scene of the first episode of the 2015 PBS Masterpiece drama series Indian Summers, which is set in India in the summer of 1932.
  • A shortened version with different lyrics was featured in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical from 2014.
  • The song was used for the closing credits in The Last Tycoon Season 1, Episode 9.
  • The song was used in Season 1, Episode 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.[14]
  • Spanish singer Aitana performed the song at the 35th Goya Awards ceremony.[15]
  • It is frequently featured during Philadelphia's annual Mummer's Parade, played by the Ferko String Band and other bands. [16]


  1. ^ a b "Jack Yellen's song catalog at Songwriters Hall of Fame". songwritershalloffame.org. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  2. ^ Hall, Mobdaunt. "THE SCREEN; More Backstage Bickering". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  3. ^ Bradley, Edwin M. (July 1996). The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927-1932. McFarland & Company. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-89950-945-7.
  4. ^ "A Brief History of Campaign Songs". 18 September 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via www.time.com.
  5. ^ "happy days are beer again - Google Search". www.google.ie. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Happy Days Are Here Again". All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved October 26, 2006.
  7. ^ "Song Search Results: "Happy Days Are Here Again"". All Media Guide, LLC. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  8. ^ Flashback Friday: Barbra Streisand's Iconic Duet with Judy Garland, Parade, October 4, 2013.
  9. ^ "Happy Days Are Here Again / I'm Following You! by Annette Hanshaw". rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  10. ^ Singleton, Don (1983-09-18). "Vanessa Williams is crowned the first African-American Miss America in 1983". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  11. ^ "Goliath Awaits (TV Movie 1981)". Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via www.imdb.com.
  12. ^ "'Glee' recap: Dueting for breadsticks". latimes.com. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  13. ^ "FOX Sports Videos". FOX Sports. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Barbra Streisand Explains Why She Allowed 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' to Use Her Songs". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. ^ ""Los días felices han vuelto": La actuación de Aitana, en recuerdo a Barbra Streisand y con llamada a la esperanza". Vanity Fair España (in Spanish).
  16. ^ Just watch the Mummer's Parade every January 1.