Life can be so dreadfully serious; and I have a habit of making it more even serious by thinking too much about it. Which is why I listen to music. It can take you out of your own mind and remind you that life is indeed worth living. One song that reminds me most effectively of this is “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown.
I couldn’t find much information on the song. It was written for George White’s Scandals of 1931, which was one of many George White’s Scandals that appeared on Broadway (between 1919-1939) and were produced by George White. It was a revue, which means it was highly episodic, featuring many different acts by different people, strung together with a thin plot. From what I can glean from the Internet Broadway Database and an excerpt on PBS’s webpage for it’s documentary Broadway: The American Musical, Ray Henderson was the composer and Lew Brown wrote the lyrics for that particular show, but for whatever reason Buddy G. DeSylva (a frequent collaborator as lyricist with the two; the team had the wonderful name: DeSylva, Brown and Henderson) is often credited with Brown for the lyrics of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” (which is what Wikipedia told me), but does not appear to be true.
The show also featured Ray Bolger (the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz) and Ethel Merman and she introduced the song “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” It was then hugely popularized by Rudy Vallee in 1931, who was himself a hugely popular singer (like Sinatra, he was apparently mobbed by women) and was one of the first to utilize the microphone so he could croon softly (as Bing Crosby does, too)
Another rendition that I enjoy is by the Boswell Sisters, a sister trio like the Andrews Sisters; in fact they came first. Their lead singer and primary music arranger was Connee Boswell, who had a wonderful solo career, too. Ella Fitzgerald often credited her as a major influence. For more information on the Boswell Sisters, check out the website dedicated to them: I Get Bozzed.
My last example of the song is by Doris Day from her album The Love Album, which was recorded in 1967 but not released until 1994. According to John Bush, writing on the website ALLMusic, “Day sings simply, sweetly, and straight as an arrow, as always, but she infuses these songs with a multitude of emotion that most singers need a half-dozen notes to get across.” She slows the song down considerably and makes it much more thoughtful. Here is the link for her version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0O9GkKg1E4.