The Trolley Song
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|"The Trolley Song"|
|Song by Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus|
"The Trolley Song" is a song written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and made famous by Judy Garland in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. In a 1989 NPR interview, Blane said the song was inspired by a picture of a trolleycar in a turn-of-the-century newspaper. In 1974, he had said that the picture was in a book he'd found at the Beverly Hills Public Library and was captioned "'Clang, Clang, Clang,' Went the Trolley."
Blane and Martin were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 1945 Academy Awards, for "The Trolley Song" but lost to "Swinging on a Star" from Going My Way. "The Trolley Song" was ranked #26 by the American Film Institute in 2004 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs list. The song as conducted by Georgie Stoll for Meet Me in St. Louis has a very complex, evocative arrangement by Conrad Salinger featuring harmonized choruses, wordless vocals, and short highlights or flourishes from a wide range of orchestral instruments.
It has been claimed for years that when the song was recorded on the set of Meet Me in St Louis, it was done in a single shot, and also that Garland accidentally repeated a verse instead of singing the next verse, but songs in Hollywood musicals of that era were not recorded on set. They were prerecorded in a studio and lip-synched by the artists, and the number in the film consists of far more than one shot, and there is no repeated verse in the film.
- Five versions of the song charted in 1944-45. Garland's single and a version by the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra — sung as a duet by Monroe and Marilyn Duke — both peaked at number four, but the biggest hit version was by the Pied Pipers, which hit number two on Billboard magazine's "Best Sellers in Stores" chart the week of December 16, 1944.
- The Dave Brubeck Quartet released a cover of the song in 1954.
- A slow, wistful version was included on Herb Alpert's 1967 album Herb Alpert's Ninth.
- João Gilberto, founder of the Brazilian musical style bossa nova, recorded a Portuguese version on his 1970 album En México.
- Betty Carter recorded a live version for her 1980 album The Audience With Betty Carter.
- The song was covered twice on The Simpsons.
- In 2015, Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch covered the song on TV series Glee in the season six episode "The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester".
- Don Tyler (2 April 2007). Hit Songs, 1900-1955: American Popular Music of the Pre-Rock Era. McFarland. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-7864-2946-2.
- Vocal Selections from That's Entertainment, Big 3 Music Corporation, 1974