"Happy Days Are Here Again" is a song copyrighted in 1929 by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics) and published by EMI Robbins Catalog, Inc./Advanced Music Corp. The song was recorded by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra, with Lou Levin, vocal (November 1929), and was featured in the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows. The song concluded the picture, in what film historian Edwin Bradley described as a "pull-out-all-the-stops Technicolor finale, against a Great WarArmistice show-within-a-show backdrop." This early example of 2-strip Technicolor footage was, along with another Technicolor sequence, later cut from the 1931 re-edited release of the otherwise black-and-white film, and is believed to have been lost in the 1965 MGM vault fire.
Another popular recording of the song was Barbra Streisand's, made 33 years after its first recording. While the song is traditionally sung at a brisk pace, her recording is notable for how slowly and expressively she sings it.
On The Garry Moore Show, Streisand sang the song during the "That Wonderful Year" skit representing 1929. She performed it ironically as a millionaire who has just lost all of her money and enters a bar, giving the bartender her expensive jewelry in exchange for drinks.
Streisand first recorded the song in October 1962 at Columbia's NYC studio, some months before her first album sessions. This version, arranged and conducted by George Williams became Streisand's first commercial single in November 1962, with "When the Sun Comes Out" as a B-side. Only 500 copies of this single were pressed for the New York market, and no copies were sent to radio stations. This 1962 version was re-released as a single in March 1965 as part of the "Hall of Fame" series with the 1962 recording of "My Coloring Book".
Streisand included live versions of the song on the following live albums "Live Concert at the Forum" (1972), "One Voice" (1987), "Barbra: The Concert" (1994) "Timeless: Live in Concert" (2000) and "Streisand: Live in Concert 2006" (2007).
Television and nightclub comedian Rip Taylor has used "Happy Days Are Here Again" for years as his theme song; the music played as he made his entrance carry a large bag of confetti throwing handfuls at everyone within reach.
The song was also used as the entrance and closing theme for comedian Mark Russell's PBS specials that aired from 1975–2004 and featured topical political humor.
A recording of the song by Mitch Miller and the Gang was used as the theme for the PBS sports history series The Way It Was in the 1970s.
The television show M*A*S*H used an Asian-influenced orchestration of the song on multiple episodes early in the series, in which the female vocalist would sing the verses in Japanese while singing the title in English.
A harmonica rendition was played early in the Christmas-themed pilot episode of The Waltons, entitled "The Homecoming", by one of the Walton children until John Boy requested something more Christmas-y.
In July 2013, a rock and roll version of the song was used by Fox in a commercial ad campaign to introduce a new sports channel called Fox Sports 1.
The song was used for the closing credits in Boardwalk Empire season 5, episode 3 "What Jesus Said".
In 2014, actress Jessica Lange provided a speaking version of the song that was played in the background throughout designer Marc Jacobs' Fall/Winter runway show.
The song was featured in the opening scene of the first episode of the 2015 PBS Masterpiece drama series Indian Summers, which is set in India in the summer of 1932.
Today, the song is probably best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's successful 1932 presidential campaign. According to Time magazine, it gained prominence after a spontaneous decision by Roosevelt's advisers to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, and went on to become the Democratic Party's "unofficial theme song for years to come". The song is also associated with the Repeal of Prohibition, which occurred shortly after Roosevelt's election where there were signs saying "Happy days are beer again" and so on.
Matthew Greenwald described the song as "[a] true saloon standard, [and] a Tin Pan Alley standard, and had been sung by virtually every interpreter since the 1940s. In a way, it's the pop version of "Auld Lang Syne".
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