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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Wrong Idea.

It was a heck of a year for movies.
Among most film critics and historians, it was regarded as the greatest year for the output of great movies.
Here is just a partial list:

The Rains Came
Dodge City
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Gunga Din
The Women
Drums Along the Mohawk
Stanley and Livingstone
Union Pacific
Destry Rides Again
Jesse James
Dark Victory
Gone With the Wind
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

It's pretty hard to argue about 1939 and movies.
I'll take it one step further.
To me, 1939 was the greatest year ever for recordings of popular music.
Again, a partial list:

"All or Nothing at All"
"An Apple For The Teacher"
"Are You Havin' Any Fun?"
"At the Woodchopper's Ball"
"Back In The Saddle Again"
"The Boys in the Back Room"
"Comes Love"
"Darn That Dream"
"Day In, Day Out"
"Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead"
"Do I Love You?"
"Don't Worry 'Bout Me"
"Give it Back to the Indians"
"God Bless America"
"Good Morning"
"I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
"I Get Along Without You Very Well"
"I Like to Recognize the Tune"
"I Thought About You"
"I Went to a Marvelous Party"
"If I Didn't Care"
"If I Only Had a Brain"
"I'll Never Smile Again"
"In a Mellow Tone"
"In The Mood"
"It's A Big, Wide, Wonderful World"
"The Lady's In Love With You"
"Lydia, The Tattooed Lady"
"A Man And His Dream"
"Moonlight Serenade"
"Over The Rainbow"
"Pennsylvania 6-5000"
"South American Way"
"South Of The Border"
"Stairway To The Stars"
"Strange Fruit"
"Tuxedo Junction"
"Tain't What You Do"
"Tara's Theme"
"Too Romantic"
"Two O'Clock Jump"
"We'll Meet Again"
"Well, Did You Evah!"
"What's New?"
"When You Wish upon a Star"

Pretty impressive.
But not necessarily conclusive.
What makes it conclusive for me is a song that was recorded that year that most of you have never heard of, but now consider my favorite.
I never heard of it until about five years ago, when I stumbled across it accidentally.
It was never a hit.
It received virtually no airplay, at the time, or since.
And I have taken it upon myself to make some attempt to give it the kind of exposure it has always deserved.

Throughout the history of American Popular Music, there has been the hip and the unhip.
The great hip bandleader Artie Shaw referred to Bing Crosby as the first hip white man.
Before Crosby, there were already, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong.
It was always very hard to be black and unhip.
For whites, it was very easy to be white and be Rudy Vallee, Russ Columbo, and Buddy Clark.
The early hip black bands, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb, and Jimmie Lunceford easily made way for hip white bands like Woody Herman, the above-mentioned Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, and Charlie Barnet.
Even Glenn Miller, although scoffed by some as being too commercial, was not unhip.
Unhip was left for white bands such as Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Kay Kyser, and Lawrence Welk.
There was no excuse for these particular bands.
They made a mockery of music in general.
Thus, in 1939, Charlie Barnet's band made an all-out assault on those unhip white bands with his own form of mockery.
A recording was made called ""The Wrong Idea".
Sammy Kaye, upon hearing it on the radio, successfully went through a lot of arm-twisting to get it banned from the airwaves.
So the public awareness of "The Wrong Idea" was very short-lived.
But it can be found on YouTube by typing in "The Wrong Idea-Charlie Barnet"
If you listen to it, which I strongly recommend, you will hear a very sappy instrumental first chorus, after which the vocalist comes in.
It should be noted that the vocalist is Billy May, who was Charlie Barnet's trumpet player, and one of the great hipsters of all time.
He went on to become a great arranger.
He was Sinatra's go-to guy when he couldn't get Nelson Riddle, or when he wanted something a lot more swinging than Nelson could provide.
May arranged Sinatra's entire "Come Fly With Me" album in the fifties.
Probably the swingingest album Sinatra ever did.
May then wrote "Somewhere In The Night", which was the TV series Naked City's title song for about three years.
Until they got Nelson Riddle to write another one.
So go to YouTube and indulge yourself in a treat: "The Wrong Idea", by Charlie Barnet and Billy May.
And then, tell your friends.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. Add 40 years, and...November 14, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Apocalypse Now
    Monty Python's Life of Brian
    Mad Max
    Kramer vs Kramer
    All That Jazz
    Being There
    Breaking Away
    The Great Santini
    The China Syndrome
    Time After Time
    Norma Rae
    The Onion Field
    The Jerk
    The In-Laws
    The Tin Drum
    Starting Over
    Return of the Secaucus Seven
    Killer of Sheep
    Real Life
    My Brilliant Career

  2. Can't wait to see what we get in 2019.

  3. Add 40 years, and...November 16, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    For comedies, 1979 ("Manhattan," "Life of Brian," "Being There," "The In-Laws," "Real Life," and "The Jerk") wins the imaginary battle against 1939 ("Midnight," "Ninotchka," "Destry Rides Again," "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man," Another Thin Man," and "The Women").

    For dramas, melo- or otherwise, you gotta go 1939.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."