“‘Cause My Baby Says It’s So” (1937) – Bunny sings!

“‘Cause My Baby Says It’s So”

Composed by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyric); probably arranged by Joe Lippman.

Recorded by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra for Victor on April 1, 1937 in New York.

Bunny Berigan, trumpet and vocal, directing: Steve Lipkins, first trumpet; and Cliff (Natoli) Natalie, trumpet; Ford Leary, first trombone; and Frankie D’Annolfo, trombone; Hank Freeman, first alto saxophone; Don “Slats” Long, alto saxophone and clarinet; Georgie Auld and Clyde Rounds, tenor saxophones; Joe Lippman, piano; Tommy Morgan, guitar; Arnold Fishkind, bass; George Wettling, drums.

The story: In April of 1937, Bunny Berigan was a very happy man. His new band, just three months old, was slowly rounding into shape. With the money he was making working with his band on a sponsored radio show, Fun in Swingtime, on the Mutual network, he was strengthening his band’s personnel, slowly but surely, chair by chair. Bunny wanted to secure the best musicians possible to fill the various roles that were essential to having a top-flight swing band. This process would not really conclude until toward the end of the summer of 1937.

The band that made this recording was a combination of veteran players, like George Wettling, Frankie D’Annolfo, Clyde Rounds and Cliff Natalie, and talented young musicians like Georgie Auld, Steve Lipkins, Hank Freeman and Arnold Fishkind. Berigan’s overall plan, as it eventually unfolded, was to secure the services of more experienced musicians. That is why men like Mike Doty, Hank Wayland and Sonny Lee would enter Bunny’s band over the coming few months. Nevertheless, the young guys on this recording played well, and definitely kept up with their more experienced colleagues.

Bunny himself was playing the trumpet brilliantly, and riding a crest of personal popularity gained as a result of his weekly appearances as a featured performer on the now legendary CBS network radio show Saturday Night Swing Club from June of 1936 well into 1937. The name “Berigan” was slowly gaining significance among the young people across the nation who listened to those Swing Club broadcasts.

On the business side of the Berigan band, after a good bit of back stage maneuvering, Bunny ended up being represented by Music Corporation of America (MCA), the largest and most powerful band booking agency of the time. MCA, by whatever means, had secured a new one-year recording contract for Berigan with Victor Records, the preeminent record label of the 1930s.(1) And the Berigan band would have a secure home in Manhattan, the Madhattan Room of Hotel Pennsylvania. They would follow Benny Goodman and his band into that room at the end of April, and be broadcast there frequently over the CBS radio network.

These developments indicate that Bunny Berigan’s career as the leader of his own band was by the spring of 1937 well and truly launched. Ironically, Berigan had since the previous spring, been using the song “I Can’t Get Started” as his theme. In a very real sense, Berigan was not only started as a bandleader by the spring of 1937, he would continue building on his initial successes all the way through 1937. Indeed, 1937 was a very good year for Bunny, perhaps the best year of his career, though he had no way of knowing that at the time.

Berigan’s first Victor recording date as a bandleader was on April 1, 1937. The Berigan band that gathered at RCA Victor’s recording studio 2 at 2:30 p.m. was well-rehearsed and in high spirits. Bunny himself was in a joyous mood. The recording supervisor for Victor was Leonard Joy, a man whom artists respected, with whom Bunny developed an excellent relationship. (2) This recording session lasted for four hours.

The song ‘Cause My Baby Says It’s So” was written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyric) for the 1937 Warner Brothers film The Singing Marine, starring Dick Powell. This film, like many others at Warners’ in the 1930s, was a formulaic vehicle for Powell’s singing and portrayal of a callow young man who despite his awkward stumbling about, happens to get the girl. Another tune from this same film, “You Can’t Run Away From Love Tonight,” was also recorded by Berigan on this date, and the two were released as the A and B sides of Victor disk 25562.

It should be noted that Berigan did not choose to record many of the tunes he recorded. he was told to record them, probably by Victor executive Leonard Joy, the A & R man on this date, or by another Victor A & R man, Eli Oberstein.(3) The way the recording industry operated in the 1930s can be described as “incestuous.” Music publishers (including the big Hollywood film studios who had purchased many independent music publishing houses in the early 1930s), made alliances with the recording companies to record tunes that they published. They made similar alliances with radio networks to broadcast their songs. Bands (or singers, Bing Crosby is a great example), were used to simply create their own interpretations of these songs. The bands/singers were the vehicles used to get songs recorded and broadcast. Royalties, which arose from the sale of recordings and number of broadcasts of a tune (and from the sale of sheet music), flowed largely to the publishers. Performers received a small royalty based on the number of their records that were sold.(4)

The music:  It is not clear who wrote the arrangement the Berigan band plays here on “’Cause My Baby Says It’s So.” My informed speculation is that it was written by Joe Lippman, who was by the time this recording was made gradually working his way into the role as chief arranger for the Berigan band. Whoever wrote it, it was very well put together: listen to the successive waves of instrumental backgrounds, fills, and emphases. The modulating transitional fanfare between Bunny’s vocal and his jazz trumpet solo provides a catapult that vaults Berigan into his solo. All of these arranging touches facilitate swing and are performed with joyous elan by Bunny’s musicians. The sections of the Berigan band (brass led by Steve Lipkins; reeds by Hank Freeman; rhythm by George Wettling), play with inspired unity and swing. Bunny himself sings the ironic lyric with humorous zest, and plays scintillating trumpet.

Here is Al Dubin’s humorous lyric for “‘Cause My Baby Say It’s So,” including the introductory verse that Berigan did not sing on his recording of this tune:

Lots of little questions used to bother me, I know all the answers now.
I know every little prayer for every little why and how.
I have no diploma, I have no degree from a university.
But I didn’t really miss much as long as I know this much.

White is black and black is white,
For no good reason that I know;
Only that my baby says it’s so.

Night and day and day is night,
The moon at noon is all aglow;
Just because my baby says it’s so.

I caught her kissing someone else to my confusion,
She said what I saw was an optical illusion.
I was wrong and she was right and as I said a while ago,
That’s because my baby says it’s so.

Berigan’s exuberant trumpeting provides a bracing contrast to his singing. His ripping gliss into his swaggering jazz solo after the vocal is particularly piquant. He ends this solo in patented Berigan fashion with a perfectly executed lip trill.

(1) Bunny’s previous booking agent, Rockwell-O’Keefe, later known as General Artists Corp. (GAC), had connections with Decca Records. But Berigan, probably with strong support from his friend Tommy Dorsey, who was recording successfully for Victor, wanted to record for Victor, and Rockwell-O’Keefe could not make that happen.

(2) At the end of 1938, Bunny convinced Leonard Joy to allow him to record the now famous “Beiderbecke Suite,” a series of tunes either written by or associated with Bix Beiderbecke. This was one of the earliest examples of what later became known in the recording industry as a “concept album.”

(3) The term “A & R,” as used in the recording industry from the 1920s well into the 1950s, stood for “Artist and Repertoire.” Starting in the 1950s, this job identification changed to “producer.” Whereas Berigan had an excellent rapport with Leonard Joy at Victor, his relationship with Eli Oberstein at Victor, though positive on the personal level, was far less productive musically.

(4) The in-house composers at the big Hollywood film studios, were invariably in the 1930s, employees of those studios. Consequently, any royalties they would have earned as independent composers went to the studios. This business arrangement engendered much bitterness among film composers. Harry Warren, the composer not only of this light-weight novelty, but of many major hit songs that became standards (he won three Oscars), was one of the most bitter.

Here is a link to a wonderful interview of Harry Warren done by Andre’ Previn, who grew up composing music for films, and then conquered other worlds: https://getlink.pro/yt/andre-previn-with-harry-warren

The recording presented in this post was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.

One thought on ““‘Cause My Baby Says It’s So” (1937) – Bunny sings!

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  1. I’ve always loved this side; though the tune itself is lightweight, not in a class with some of Warren’s real beauties, it’s nevertheless cute, and the band does a terrific job with it. Technically, Bunny’s singing wasn’t the greatest but, because he infused everything with jazz, he actually managed to smooth out the sing-song quality of the melody, which improves it. The modulation is nice, providing a sense of anticipation, and then Bunny makes that perfect entrance — rrrrrrip! What style that guy had! Thank you for shining the spotlight on this one.

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