Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Happy Days Are Here Again" Again

On April 6, I noted the McLaughlin Group was guilty of anachronism, playing "Happy Days Are Here Again" in relation to the brokered 1924 Democratic convention:
The problem with McLaughlin's "home video" (as guest Mort Zuckerman described it with a touch of sarcasm) of the 1924 convention is that the background music is the "Happy Days" theme. It couldn't have happened. The music for this song was not written by Milton Ager until 1929. The lyrics by Jack Yellen start: "Happy days are here again, The skies above are clear again, So let's sing a song of cheer again, Happy days are here again."
Now it's August 30, after the Denver Democratic convention gave us the Obama-Biden ticket. I get this nice note from WS in Colorado:
I enjoyed reading your piece about "Happy Days Are Here Again." I'm old enough to remember hearing it when FDR ran against my friend Alf Landon in 1936. I read recently that use of that tune for FDR's campaigning against Hoover was a fluke... selected by accident. FDR, it is reported, didn't like it at all. I'm unable to find the source of that now however. (Like Harry Truman couldn't stand "The Missouri Waltz." Nixon didn't know this when he visited him in Independence and played it on the Steinway that Truman had brought from the White House.)
Steven Neal's book, "Happy Days Are Here Again" confirms the FDR campaign theme song - now used as a theme song for the Democratic Party - was a substitute for "Anchor's Away", originally selected because FDR had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy but then deemed insufficiently stirring for the Chicago conventioneers.