05 February 2006

A Kiss To Build A Dream On and... The Marx Brothers?

A Kiss To Build A Dream On was written by the notable Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood songwriting partners Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, along with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals fame.

It's probably better known nowadays since Louis Armstrong's recording from the 50s was used on the soundtrack of Sleepless In Seattle (1993) . That leisurely baritone, just rough enough around the edges, plays against the sweet melody in a wistful kind of way, and of course there's a trumpet solo that bursts onto the scene as a bonus at about 1 min. 30 secs. All in all, it's a satisfying result.

(It reminds me of the way John Lennon's delivery adds some edge to that sad, sweet love song Baby It's You, when compared with the original version by The Shirelles.)

I'd always assumed A Kiss To Build A Dream On was from the 30s (it sounds as if it's from the 30s), so I was surprised to find that its first appearance seemed to be in a 1951 film, The Strip, sung by Louis Armstrong. It does have a copyright date of 1935, but I could find no earlier versions.

But, as is often the case, Joop Jansen had an answer when I asked at The Originals forum.

It turns out that A Kiss To Build A Dream On was originally a song called Moonlight On The Meadow. It was written by Kalmar and Ruby for the Marx Brothers film A Night At The Opera (1935), but it was never used. Oscar Hammerstein took the song and wrote new lyrics for The Strip (1951), and that's when it became A Kiss To Build A Dream On.

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