My Blue Heaven (song)

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"My Blue Heaven"
My Blue Heaven 1927 Walter Donaldson.jpg
1927 sheet music cover with composer Walter Donaldson
Song by Gene Austin
B-side"Are You Thinking Of Me To-night?"
PublishedOctober 10, 1927 by George Whiting Publishing Company, Donaldson Publishing Co[1]
ReleasedNovember 4, 1927[2]
RecordedSeptember 14, 1927
StudioVictor Studios, New York City
GenreJazz, Pop Vocal
LabelVictor 20964
Composer(s)Walter Donaldson
Lyricist(s)George A. Whiting
Gene Austin singles chronology
"Ain't She Sweet"
"My Blue Heaven"
"My Melancholy Baby"

"My Blue Heaven" is a popular song written by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by George A. Whiting. The song was used in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927.[3] It has become part of various fake book collections.[4][5]

In 1928, "My Blue Heaven" became a huge hit on Victor 20964-A for crooner Gene Austin, accompanied by the Victor Orchestra as directed by Nat Shilkret. It charted for 26 weeks, stayed at number one for 13, and sold over five million copies worldwide.[6] Victor 20964-A was recorded on September 14, 1927[7] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978. The recording was reissued as Victor 24573 and has been reissued on several commercially available CDs.[8]


The music for "My Blue Heaven" was written in 1924: "Donaldson wrote it one afternoon at the Friars Club in New York while waiting for his turn at the billiard table."[9] The song was written while Donaldson was under contract to Irving Berlin, working for Berlin's publishing company, Irving Berlin Inc.[10] George A. Whiting wrote lyrics adapted for Donaldson's music, and for a while, performed it in his vaudeville act with Sadie Burt, incorporating it in their show Songsayings, but no recording was ever made of Whiting and Burt performing the song; three years later, Tommy Lyman started singing it on the radio as his theme song.[9]

Austin, unhappy with the Victor Company and "convinced that the best material which he brought to the company’s attention was going to other artists", "gave Nat Shilkret an ultimatum that he wouldn’t do another session unless his interpretation [of "My Blue Heaven"] was commercially released. According to Austin, an agreement was reached for "My Blue Heaven" to be coupled with "Are You Thinking of Me Tonight?", the most highly regarded song among those he was planning to record at that time."[11] On the day "My Blue Heaven" was to be recorded, after takes of the other songs had been completed, to Austin's surprise the musicians packed up and left the studio; Shilkret told Austin they had a conflict, but in a scene documented by H. Allen Smith in his A Short History of Fingers, Austin "grabbed an old guy with a cello and talked him into standing by. Then [he] grabbed a song plugger who could play pretty fair piano. And the third fellow [he] got was an agent who could whistle – bird calls and that sort of thing."[11] Austin recorded "My Blue Heaven" with that hastily assembled trio.[11]


Donaldson established his own publishing company in 1928, and his rights in the song were apparently assigned to his company at that time, with the song listed as having been published by George Whiting Music and Donaldson Music.[12]

The song was subject to copyright in 1925 and 1927. These copyrights were renewed in 1953 and 1955, after the death of both composers, at which time the rights in the song were owned by Leo Feist, Inc. The rights were thereafter assigned to the EMI Catalogue Partnership, controlled and administered by EMI Feist Catalog Inc.[13]

Film appearances[edit]

CD reissues of Gene Austin recording[edit]

The 1928 Victor recording (20964-A) by Gene Austin, accompanied by Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra, has had several late-20th-century and early-21st-century reissues on compact disc:

  • Billboard Pop Memories – The 1920s, compilation, Rhino R2-71575, 1994[18]
  • Chart-Toppers of The Twenties, compilation, ASV/Living Era AJA-5292, 1998[19]
  • Gene Austin: Singer and Songwriter, Gene Austin, Collectors' Choice CCM-10402, 2002[20]
  • Nipper's Greatest Hits – The 20's, compilation, BMG-RCA 2258-2-R, 1990[21]
  • They Sold a Million, compilation, Pulse PBX CD 430, 1999
  • The Voice of the Southland, Gene Austin, ASV/Living Era AJA-5217, 1996[22]
  • Yes, Sir, That's My Baby: The Golden Years of Tin Pan Alley 1920–1929, compilation, New World 80279-2, 2002

Other chart versions[edit]

Hit versions were also recorded by Paul Whiteman (recorded July 6, 1927 with a vocal group including Bing Crosby),[23] Nick Lucas (1928), Don Voorhees (1928), and Seger Ellis (1928).[24] The 1956 Fats Domino version was a two sided hit with "I'm in Love Again", and reached number nineteen on the Billboard Top 100 chart and number five on the R&B Best Sellers chart.[25]


  1. ^ "Gene Austin | SecondHandSongs". Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  2. ^ Gene Austin – My Blue Heaven / Are You Thinking Of Me To-night? (1927, Shellac), retrieved 2021-08-05
  3. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Fake Book Index". Music Library. University at Buffalo Libraries. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  5. ^ "Fake Book Index". Stan Getz Library. Berklee College of Music. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  6. ^ CD liner notes: Chart-Toppers of the Twenties, 1998 ASV Ltd.
  7. ^ "Matrix BVE-39179. My blue heaven / Gene Austin". Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  8. ^ Shilkret, Nathaniel, ed. Shell, Niel and Barbara Shilkret, Nathaniel Shilkret: Sixty Years in the Music Business, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 2005, pp 75, 237, 257, 265 and 272. ISBN 0-8108-5128-8
  9. ^ a b David Ewen (1977). All the Years of American Popular Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
  10. ^ Biography of Walter Donaldson Archived 2010-11-28 at the Wayback Machine;
  11. ^ a b c Frank Hoffmann. "Gene Austin". Survey of American Popular Music" The Crooners/Tin Pan Alley Pop Tradition. Sam Houston State University. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  12. ^ Walter Donaldson, "Catalog Highlights", with publishing particulars Archived 2010-11-28 at the Wayback Machine; The legal name of Donaldson's publishing company was Donaldson, Douglas and Grumble, Inc.; see Walter Donaldson.
  13. ^ Teddy Shaw Wilson, My Blue Heaven (Digital Sheet Music) Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine;
  14. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  15. ^ "Internet Movie Database". imdb,com. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  16. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  20. ^ "". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  21. ^ "". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  22. ^ "". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  23. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  24. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 553. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  25. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 167.