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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Celebration of the Music of Harry M. Woods

By Nicholas Stix



When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along
Words and Music by Harry M. Woods (1926)

When the red, red robin
Comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along,
There’ll be no more sobbin,’
When he comes throbbin’ his ol’ sweet song.

Wake up! Wake up, you sleepy head,
Get up! Get up, get out of bed,
Cheer up! Cheer up, the sun is red,
Live, love, laugh and be happy!

What if I’ve been blue,
Now I’m walking through fields of flowers,
Rain may glisten,
But still I listen for hours and hours.

I’m just a kid again,
Doin’ what I did again,
Singin’ a song,
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along.


Thanks to cafevideos and MisterCanning.

From 1923-1945, Harry MacGregor Woods (1896-1970) was one of America’s greatest and most popular songwriters. He composed all of his songs, and wrote sometimes masterful lyrics to most of them.

Woods’ songs from the 1920s were very brief. At the time, only 78 rpm records existed, which played very fast. Songs were up tempo, and ran about two minutes in length. Only later would slower-playing discs be invented, heralding the “three-minute rule” as the standard length, give or take, and wildly popular love ballads.

Woods was born on North Chelmsford, Massachusetts on November 4, 1896, with no fingers on his left hand. Yet with the encouragement of his mother, a concert singer, he somehow willed himself to become a successful, professional piano player.



River, Stay Away from My Door
Music by Harry M. Woods
Lyrics by Mort Dixon
Arranged by Nelson Riddle

You keep goin’ your way,
(I’ll keep goin’ my way,)
I’ll keep goin’ my way,
(You keep rollin’ your way,)
River, stay ‘way from the door.

I just got (me) a cabin,
You don’t need my cabin
(You’ll never need that cabin,)
River, stay ‘way from the door.

Don’t (you) come up any higher,
I’m so all alone,
Leave the bed and the fire,
That is all I own
(And you can have that phone).

I ain’t breakin’ your heart,
Don’t (you) start breakin’ my heart,
River, stay ‘way from the door.

(Stay ‘way, get ‘way, roll ‘way, stay ‘way,
(You dirty, old, muddy river, you,
(River, stay ‘way from the door.)


Thanks to Grandad35 and Jumbo Jimbo’s Song Lyrics Archive.


According to his unsigned biography at The Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Woods worked his way through Harvard singing in church choirs and giving piano recitals. He served in the First World War, and after graduation sought unsuccessfully, to farm on Cape Cod. Woods found the New England soil much more fertile ground for cultivating music, and by the mid-1920s, was one of the country’s most popular tunesmiths. His biggest hit at time was, “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along,” which a number of contemporary singers had hits with, with Al Jolson’s version hitting #1 on the charts.




What a Little Moonlight Can Do
Words & Music by Harry M. Woods

Ooh, ooh, ooh
What a little moonlight can do,
Ooh, ooh, ooh
What a little moonlight can do to you.

You’re in love,
Your heart’s fluttering all day long,
You only stutter cause your poor tongue,
Just will not utter the words
‘I love you.’

Ooh, ooh, ooh,
What a little moonlight can do,
Wait a while,
Till a little moonbeam comes peepin’ through.

He’ll get bored,
You can’t resist him,
All you’ll say,
When you have kissed him is
Ooh, ooh, ooh,
What a little moonlight can do.



In 1934, Woods moved to London, where he stayed for three years. He had great success writing for movie musicals on both sides of the pond.

Woods was a heavy drinker, which was fairly common at the time, but was notorious for his ferocious temper. Once when he was performing at a London club, a patron kept criticizing him. Woods challenged the patron to be more specific.

The next thing you knew, Harry Woods had his erstwhile critic on the ground and, warming the hearts of beleaguered, heckled performers everywhere, was choking him with his right hand, while pounding his face into hamburger with the stump of his left.

Bobbies were summoned, and as jazz DJ “Arwulf Arwulf” recounted the oft-told tale,

Bloody and disheveled, he was dragged off of his victim and was in the process of being handcuffed when a woman entered the club, looked him up and down and exclaimed, “Who is that horrible man?” Still seated at the bar, a friend of the composer proudly announced, “That’s Harry Woods. He wrote ‘Try a Little Tenderness.’“





When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful
Music by Harry M. Woods
Lyrics by Fats Waller.

When somebody thinks you're wonderful,
What a difference in your day,
Seems as though your troubles disappear,
Like a feather in your way.

When somebody thinks you're wonderful,
Tells you with a smile so sweet,
What are little stones you step upon,
Just a meadow ‘neath your feet?

And how you meet the morning,
And gaily swing along,
At night you may be weary,
But your heart still sings a song.

When somebody thinks you're wonderful,
Love is mighty close to you,
Just another thing more wonderful,
Making all your dreams come true.

(Reprise all four verses.)

Thanks to tubefella.

In 1945, Woods retired to Glendale, Arizona, and died in Phoenix on January 14, 1970.

Though most people over the age of 40 have at least heard “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along” and “River, Stay Away from My Door,” hardly anyone knows Woods’ name anymore, but we’ll just have to do something about that, won’t we?



Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home: Isham Jones Orchestra (1925)

Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home
Words & Music by Harry M. Woods (1925)

Verse I
I love a girl named Madelin,’
I know she loves me too,
For ev’ry night the moon is bright,
She rides in my canoe,
At midnight on the river,
I heard her father call,
But she don’t care and I don’t care,
If we get back at all:


Verse II

The moon comes up at six o’clock,
And I come up at eight,
She’s always waitin’ for my call,
And meets me at the gate,
I’ve petted in the parlor,
And hugged her in the hall,
But when she’s out in my canoe,
I love her best of all:


Chorus I

‘Cause when I’m paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
Gee! when I’m paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
First I drift with the tide, then pull for the shore.
I hug her and kiss her and paddle some more,
Then I keep paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
Until I find a spot where we’re alone.
Oh! She never says “no,” so I kiss her and go
Paddlin’ Madelin’, sweet, sweet Madelin,’
Paddlin’ Madelin’ home


Chorus II
‘Cause when I’m paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
Gee! when I’m paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
First I kiss her a while, and when I get through,
I paddle for one mile and drift back for two,
Then I keep paddlin’ Madelin’ home,
Until I find a spot where we’re alone.
Oh! If she’d only say, “Throw your paddles away”
Paddlin’ Madelin’, sweet, sweet Madelin’,
Paddlin’ Madelin’ home.




Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home: The Mitch Miller Orchestra (with vocal)

Thanks to Jeffrey Sward and Bigband78.



I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover
Music by Harry M. Woods
Lyrics by Mort Dixon

I’m looking over a four leaf clover,
That I overlooked before,
First is the sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that bloom in the lane,

There’s no need explaining,
The one remaining is somebody I adore,
I’m looking over a four leaf clover,
That I overlooked before.

I’m looking over a four leaf clover,
That I overlooked before,
First is the sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that bloom in the lane,

There’s no need explaining,
The one remaining is somebody I adore,
I’m looking over a four leaf clover,
That I overlooked before, that I overlooked before.

Thanks to itscalang.



When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain
Music by Harry M. Woods
Lyrics by Howard E. Johnson and Harry M. Woods
(A #1 hit for Kate Smith in 1931.)

All by myself at twilight,
Watching the day depart,
And with a fading twilight,
Happiness fills my heart.

When the moon comes over the mountain,
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you,
Once again we`ll stroll `neath the mountain,
Through that rose-covered valley we knew.

Each day is gray and dreary,
But the night is bright and cheery,
When the moon comes over the mountain,
I`m alone with my memories of you.

Bridge

(Reprise last verse.)

Thanks to GUNNISONDUDE and Lyrics Bay.

And last, Woods’ biggest hit of all, “Try a Little Tenderness.”



Try a Little Tenderness
Music by Harry Woods
Lyrics by Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly

She may be weary,
Women do get weary,
Wearing the same shabby dress,
And when she’s weary,
Try a little tenderness.

You know she’s waiting,
Just anticipating,
Things she may never possess,
While she’s without them,
Try a little tenderness.

It’s not just sentimental,
She has her grief and her care,
And the words that are gentle,
It makes it easier to bear.

You won’t regret it,
Women don’t forget it,
Love is their whole happiness,
Its all so easy,
Try a little tenderness.

You won’t regret it,
Women don’t forget it,
Love is their whole happiness,
It’s all so easy,
Try a little tenderness.


Thanks to PerryComoSongs.

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