My Melancholy Baby

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1920s sheet music cover

"My Melancholy Baby" is a popular song published in 1912 and first sung publicly by William Frawley. The music was written by Ernie Burnett, the lyrics by George A. Norton.[1]

Notable performances[edit]

William Frawley—who later played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy—claimed he was the first person to perform the song publicly, in 1912, in the Mozart Cafe at 1647 Curtis Street in Denver, Colorado. Frawley told this story during a May 3, 1965, appearance on the TV game show I've Got a Secret.

Ernie Burnett, who composed the music, was wounded fighting in the First World War, and he lost his memory together with his identity dog-tags. While recuperating in hospital, a pianist entertained the patients with popular tunes including "Melancholy Baby". Burnett rose from his sickbed and exclaimed: "That's my song!" He had regained his memory.

Enjoying a resurgence in popularity with a recording by Gene Austin in 1927, thesong was waxed by Austin Young and Paul Whiteman's orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke obligato in May 1928.

The song can be heard often throughout the 1939 Warner Brothers gangster movie The Roaring Twenties, where a vocal rendition of the song is performed by co-star Priscilla Lane.

The song was sung by Bing Crosby in the 1941 Oscar-nominated movie Birth of the Blues.[2]

In the 1942 film Johnny Eager, the song was played during the opening and closing credits, as background music throughout, and as dance music by the band at Tony Luce's place. It was not credited.

Perry Como performed the song in a 1943 radio show.[3]

The song appears both incidentally and in thematic background variations in the musical score of Fritz Lang's 1945 film Scarlet Street starring Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson. As a recording plays on a phonograph in several different scenes, the song becomes distorted, including disturbing repetitions when the needle gets stuck.

Judy Garland sang it during the "Born in a Trunk" sequence in the 1954 movie A Star Is Born, after a drunk persistently shouted, "Sing 'Melancholy Baby'!" Scenes with demanding fans of the song also appeared in 1960s American television programs including The Monkees and Hogan's Heroes.[citation needed]

Other notable recordings of this tune include Al Bowlly's 1935 recording, Coleman Hawkins in 1938, Charlie Parker with Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk in 1950, and Lennie Tristano in 1955 or 1956 on the album Manhattan Studio.

In 1958, William Frawley performed the song again on the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, in the "Lucy Goes to Sun Valley" episode shown on April 14. Frawley, as Fred Mertz, was asked by Ricky to perform "an old-fashioned ballad" for his band's appearance on a TV show. Mertz sang the song in the rehearsal scene for the musical number.[4]

In the 1959 comedy, Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe's character, Sugar Kane is a big fan of the song, especially when played by a tenor saxophonist. She states, "All they have to do is play eight bars of 'Come to me My Melancholy Baby' and my spine turns to custard, I get goosepimply all over, and I come to 'em!"[5]

Tommy Edwards MGM single of the tune reached #15 in the US Music Vendor charts, spring 1959.

Ella Fitzgerald included this song in her 1960 Verve release Ella Fitzgerald Sings Songs from Let No Man Write My Epitaph.

Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her album The Third Album (1963).[6]

Mina,the great Italian singer, included this song in her 1966 RI-FI release MINA 2.

Jazz pianist Michael Weiss recorded the song on his debut album for Criss Cross Jazz, Presenting Michael Weiss.

Raffi Cavoukian wrote the unmentioned title of his first song "Play Melancholy Baby Sweetheart" on his Good Luck Boy album released in 1975 by using country music.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ My Melancholy Baby. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  2. ^ Soundtrack Listing for Birth of the Blues. IMDB. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  3. ^ Perry Como & The Raymond Scott Orchestra, The Perry Como Shows 1943, volume 1, On the Air, 1995.
  4. ^ Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll, Jr., Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf (1958-04-14). "Lucy Goes to Sun Valley". Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Season 7. Episode 5. 30:02 minutes in. CBS. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Doclar, Ernest (1964-12). Platter Chatter, p. 12. Boy's Life on Google Books. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.