What Do Cows and Capitol Records Have In Common?

Sometimes popular musicians and singers go out with great fanfare and fans remember them for decades.  Sometimes their names fade into obscurity despite a large catalogue of quality recordings.

Ella Mae Morse  (12 September 1924 – 16 October 1999) was a big band vocalist whose 1942 hit “Cow Cow Boogie” was responsible for giving Capitol Records (at that point, a new label) its first million seller.  Although Ella Mae was 18 years old at the time, she was already a veteran vocalist having sung in her father’s nightclub band since she was nine years old.

She had drive and ambition, and auditioned for the Jimmy Dorsey band when she was 14 years old (although she claimed to be 19 to make sure she was allowed to audition).  She passed the audition and got the job, but the jig was up when the school board informed Mr. Dorsey that as his band’s vocalist, he was responsible for her care.  He fired her instead.

When she signed with Capitol Records as a soloist when she was 18 years old, on the strength of the success of “Cow Cow Boogie” her path was set.

She remained with Capital Records for 15 years before taking time off to marry and start a family.  Lucky in her professional life, she wasn’t quite as lucky in her personal life and wound up marrying four times although most blogs and Wikipedia incorrectly state she was married twice.

She married pianist Richard “Dick Walters” Showalter in 1941.

Her next husband was U.S. Navy doctor Marvin Leonard Gerber.

Her third husband was Glen Kendall.

Her fourth husband and last husband (to whom she was married for forty years) was Jack Bradford — a carpenter by trade.

Her recordings stand the test of time, and to prove this, I’m including three YouTube videos of her other well-known hits.



Discovering Hidden Nuggets

Every once in a while, all of us have stumbled upon something so incredibly beautiful that we can’t believe how it is that we never found it before this very moment.  This was the case last week when I came across a video by Richard Poon singing the incredibly beautiful “The Last Time.”

The song was so smooth and so heartfelt that it was impossible to miss the innocence and sincerity at the heart of the piece.  The chord progression and the arrangement harkened back to another time and place, and I wondered how it was that this song wasn’t part of my big band repertoire.  Surely this song was from the thirties or forties.

The first time I fell in love was long ago;
I didn’t know how to give my love at all.

I searched in earnest for the name or names of the songwriters.  I delved through the many music folios and 78s in my music collection and came up empty-handed.  I found it all very perplexing considering how amazing this song is.

I searched the Internet and came across a number of songs with similar titles but none of them were the song I was hoping to find.  It became a mystery of sorts, truth be told, and I wasn’t about to be deterred from finding the answer to the question:  Who wrote this incredible song?

I’m wise enough to know when a miracle unfolds;
This is the last time I’ll fall in love.

I finally found another version of the song on YouTube.  This time, it was being sung by Eric Benet.  Now I know a bit about Eric Benet.  He’s had more than his fair share of pain and heartache.  His father died of cancer.   In 1993, his girlfriend died after lying in a coma for five days after having been injured in an automobile crash.   After three years of marriage, he and Halle Berry called it quits.  If ever there was someone who deserved a happily ever after, Eric Benet certainly seems to be a prime candidate.

And then I learned something very interesting about the song in question.  The song was part of a group of songs he’d written about his relationship with Halle Berry.  It wasn’t a decades-old song that had aged well but rather a relatively new song that had all the hallmarks of a decades-old song.

To find that once in a lifetime, this is it
I’ll never be the same.

Now that I knew where to start looking for information on the song, I discovered that it was written by Eric Benet, Amy Sky, David Foster and Foster Gillies.

The next time I hear a song I don’t recognize that sounds like it came from another era, I’m going to start hunting a little closer to home … checking recent releases.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll discover a few more hidden nuggets to add to my music collection. 

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