That’s what storms were made for. #PlagueSongs, no. 32

Another of the great happy-sad songs, though — on balance — happier than sad. Introduced by Bing Crosby in 1936, it has music by Arthur Johnston and the lyrics by Johnny Burke (who also wrote the lyrics to “Swinging on a Star,” another hit for Crosby).

You likely know the chorus, but not the prologue. I don’t know why, but several songs from this era have prologues omitted from other, popular recordings. We know “As Time Goes By” for its chorus because that’s what’s performed in Casablanca, but check out the Rudy Vallee version for the full lyric. In the case of “Pennies from Heaven,” Bing Crosby recorded it with its prologue, but Billie Holiday’s version — recorded the same year — omits the prologue, as do many other versions.

It’s one of the trickier songs that I know how to play — lots of chord changes, and patterns of chords that repeat only once or never again recur in that order. But it’s fun to play — or, you might fairly point out after listening to my rendition, try to play.

As is my habit, I’ve assembled a playlist of many better versions, all in chronological order. Don’t be fooled by the presence of “Stop” — that’s Fats Navarro’s interpretation of the song.

Why not sing a song of your own? If you need ideas, the playlist below offers many tunes that (sometimes only tangentially) intersect with our current plague era. But turn to the music that speaks to you most clearly.


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