Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra "Thinking Of You" (Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby) Lewis James
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Date: September 28, 2014
Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra "Thinking Of You" (song by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby), vocal by Lewis James
Recorded in New York September 29, 1927.
The song, not well-known, was introduced in the Broadway show The Five O'Clock Girl (1927). It was featured in the 1950 biopic of the songwriting Kalmar-Ruby team, "Three Little Words" with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton.
Why is it I spend the day--
Wake up and end the day--thinking of you?
Oh, why does it do this to me?
Is it such bliss to be thinking of you?
And when I fall asleep at night, it seems
You just tiptoe into all my dreams.
So I think of no other one
Ever since I've begun thinking of you.
Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra play "I Want A Daddy To Cuddle Me" on Victor 21818, recorded on December 13, 1928.
Vocal is by Belle Mann. This song is by Frank A. Wright and D. D. Ebie.
Nathaniel Shilkret, born on December 25, 1889, shaped the musical sound of the Victor Talking Machine Company in the 1920s perhaps more than any other musician, and he was important in the early years of RCA Victor, formed in 1929.
This classically trained clarinetist served as bandleader, composer, piano accompanist, and musical director for countless popular Victor discs as well as many Red Seal discs.
From the mid-1920s onward his name was often on labels, but much of his work conducting Victor's "house" orchestras went without credit. He was most influential in Victor's early electric era of recording but had recorded prolifically in the acoustic era. He was successful at giving popular tunes of the day a semi-classical treatment, tunes being sometimes arranged for a small ensemble of instruments, other times for a symphonic orchestra.
Several reference books erroneously cite 1895 as Nat's year of birth. He was born in Queens, New York as Naftule Schuldkraut on December 25, 1889, according to his birth certificate. Researcher Bob Arnold also located the birth certificate of Jack Shilkret, who was born on October 9, 1896, and the family name on Jack's birth certificate is given as Skilkrout, which means the name had already changed in the six years since Nat's birth.
During an interview in Nat Shilkret's home in Massapequa, New York, on October 7, 1963, he told Brian Rust, "My folks came from Austria...I'm another famous Jew born on Christmas Day." They probably came from Galicia, at that time in Austria but in present-day Poland.
Beginning in 1926, Shilkret wrote a series of autobiographical pieces for Phonograph Monthly Review, and he states in the February 1927 issue that he began to study music with lessons by his father on the clarinet.
Page 72 of the September 1927 issue of Talking Machine World states, "At the age of twenty-four, because of his ability, amounting to genius, as an arranger and musician, he was made a conductor in the company. In addition to this, he is also manager and musical director of the foreign language department, where records in thirty-five different languages are made. Publications sent in for examination are left to the judgment of Mr. Shilkret and many of these selections are arranged by him...Very often he is accompanist for many famous artists who made Red Seal records."
Ensembles that Shilkret conducted in the 1920s, relying on a more or less stable pool of Victor studio musicians, include the Victor Salon Orchestra, International Novelty Orchestra, International Concert Orchestra, Victor Concert Orchestra, Victor Symphony Orchestra, International Symphony Orchestra, Victor Schrammel (Viennese) Orchestra, Shilkret's Rhyth-Melodists, the Troubadours (this was also led at times by Hugo Frey), the All Star Orchestra, the Eveready Radio Group, and the Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra. He was often assisted by Leonard Joy. Many records in the late 1920s were issued under the name Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra.
In 1924 Shilkret formed the Victor Salon Orchestra.
Jack and Nat Shilkret worked closely throughout the 1920s.
Shilkret began working regularly on radio in 1925.
Shilkret's increasing importance to Victor may have contributed to Paul Whiteman's decision to leave Victor in 1928 for Columbia though Whiteman's greatest incentive to switch companies was undoubtedly the astonishing sum of money Columbia offered.
In 1932 he conducted a Victor orchestra during sessions that re-recorded the voice of Enrico Caruso, who had died too soon to be recorded by the electrical process.
As an arranger and composer, Shilkret was important to Victor. He was musical arranger for the wildly popular "The Prisoner's Song," cut by Vernon Dalhart on July 13, 1924 (Victor 19427). Believing he deserved composer credit for it, Shilkret late in life referred to Dalhart as a man who stole a song from him.
He arranged and conducted music for a couple dozen films.
Shilkret died on February 18, 1982, in Franklin Square, Long Island, New York.