The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Lulu's Back in Town

Lulu's Back in Town

#100 / July 22 Podcast

Gotta get my old tuxedo pressed, gotta sew a button on my vest,
'cause tonight I've gotta look my best, Lulu's back in town!

Okay, you probably never heard of a songwriter named Harry Warren. But we bet that you know —and can even hum — many of his tunes.

Warren was nominated 11 times for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and he won three of those Oscars, for “Lullaby of Broadway” in 1935, for “You’ll Never Know” in 1943 and for “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” in 1946.

In a career spanning six decades, Warren wrote more than 800 songs. Besides those Oscar biggies, Warren’s better known pieces include novelty tunes like “Jeepers Creepers,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (which was the first gold record in history). And ballads like “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “There Will Never Be Another You.”

He also penned signature tunes like “That’s Amore,” which Dean Martin claimed as his own, and — best of all! — “At Last,” which simply belonged to the great Etta James.

At the Movies

Despite his million-dollar portfolio, Warren remains “the invisible man,” observed journalist William Zinsser, “his career a prime example of the oblivion that cloaked so many writers who cranked out good songs for bad movies."

Uh, LOTS of bad (and, well, some good) movies. Harry Warren songs have been featured in more than 300 films over the years. He wrote the music for the first blockbuster film musical, 1933’s “42nd Street,” choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with whom Warren often would collaborate.

But perhaps an even greater claim to fame for our generation is that fact that Warren songs starred in no fewer than 112 Warner Bros., Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.

Welcome Home, Lulu!

In 1932, Harry went to work for Warner Brothers studio, where he was paired with an old friend, lyricist Al Dubin.

Over the next six years, the two would churn out five dozen songs for 33 musicals, including a long-time favorite of ours.

“Lulu’s Back in Town” was first performed by the Mills Brothers in the 1935 musical “Broadway Gondolier.” While the film was a highly forgettable Dick Powell-Joan Blondell vehicle, the song itself had legs, especially when it was recorded that same spring by Flood hero Fats Waller, who charted with “Lulu.”

Subsequently, the song charmed everyone from Mel Tormé and Wingy Manone to Art Tatum to Oscar Peterson.

In the Floodisphere, an especially influential rendition of the song was Leon Redbone’s performance on his 1975 “On the Track” debut album. Our first recording of it was 20 years ago on our 2nd album. And Lulu has has come back to visit us with each new configurations of the band.

Our Take on the Tune

We’ll be returning next week to one of our all-time favorite local venues, playing for the good folks up the hill at Woodlands Retirement Community. It’s a wonderful place where we’ve played regularly for the past 20 years or more.

And this time, our old buddy, Floodster Emeritus Paul Martin, is back to sit in with us. Here’s something we’re dusting off for the evening … you know, just in case Lulu is in the audience.

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The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: