Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)

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Hard Hearted Hannah, the Vamp of Savannah is a popular song with words by Jack Yellen, Bob Bigelow, and Charles Bates, and music by Milton Ager.[1] The song was published in June 1924 by Ager, Yellen & Bornstein, Inc., New York.[2] Hard Hearted Hannah tells in humorous fashion the story of a "vamp" or femme fatale from Savannah, Georgia "the meanest gal in town." Hannah is "a gal who loves to see men suffer."

Popularized by vocalist Margaret Young,[3] it also had early recordings by vocalists Lucille Hegamin [4] and Dolly Kay,[5] Herb Wiedoeft's band (1924)[6] and by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra.[7] A quarter century later Peggy Lee revived "Hannah" very successfully for Capitol Records, and the Ray Charles Singers made a hit version for Decca.[8]

The song has been recorded numerous times by such performers as Patti Austin, Belle Baker, The Buffalo Bills, The Bronson Singers, Jim Croce, Bobby Darin, Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, Ella Fitzgerald, Stacey Kent, Joyce Moody, Turk Murphy, Nancy Sinatra, Kay Starr, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Temperance Seven, Toni Tennille, Julie London, Mary Testa, Sophie Tucker, Sue Keller, and Margaret Whiting.[9]

Memorable television or film performances of the song include those by Carol Burnett, Peggy Lee, Dorothy Loudon, Ella Fitzgerald (on Pete Kelly's Blues), and Beatrice Arthur on Maude and The Golden Girls. The song was performed by vampire Bill Compton (played by Stephen Moyer) in the sixth episode of the second season of the HBO show True Blood, also called Hard-Hearted Hannah; Dolly Kay's recording of the song plays over the final credits.[10]

It is known that the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky was fond of this song. He heard it during his first trip to the United States and later referred to it in his influential essay How to Make Poems. He also asked his friend, the translator Rita Rait-Kovaleva, to translate the song for him, but due to his heavy accent, she couldn't understand a word of what he was singing. In season 1 of American Idol, contestant Nikki McKibbin sang this song in the finals where she ended up in the Bottom 3.


  1. ^ Alexander, Shana. Happy Days: My Mother, My Father, My Sister & Me. Doubleday. ISBN 0385418159. 
  2. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries pt. III, n. s., v. 19, nos. 5-6, 1924, p. 8708 (no. 8693), retrieved 2014-02-05 
  3. ^ http://www.jazzage1920s.com/margaretyoung/margaretyoung.php
  4. ^ [1] Lucille Hegamin at RedHotJazz.com
  5. ^ [2] Dolly Kay at RedHotJazz.com
  6. ^ "Herb Wiedoeft's Cinderella Roof Orchestra". Red Hot Jazz. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  7. ^ [3] Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra at RedHotJazz.com
  8. ^ Shana Alexander, Happy Days: My Mother, My Father, My Sister & Me, New York: Doubleday, 1995.
  9. ^ [4] List of performers who have recorded Hard Hearted Hannah at allmusic.com
  10. ^ [5] HBO True Blood

See also[edit]