Horatio Nicholls was a prolific songwriter. Unfortunately, prolific does not necessarily equate with good; most of his songs were instantly forgettable, and some, like "Queen Of The Sea,
" were notoriously bad. He struck gold with this one though, and rightly so. According to Mark White's 1983 study of popular songwriters, You Must Remember This...
, "Among My Souvenirs" was his biggest hit, a sentiment echoed by Arnold Shaw's 1987 book The Jazz Age
, which says it was rated America's #1 song by Variety
in February 1928.
An instant hit, it was recorded at least five times in 1927, though it must be said that not all these recordings did it justice. Early in that year, Nicholls (under his real name Lawrence Wright) sailed to New York aboard the SS Majestic to drum up business for his music publishing concern. While on board he composed "Shepherd Of The Hills
" and, according to the blurb on the back page of the sheet music for his solo effort C-L-E-M-E-N-T-S, "got America's best lyricist, Edgar Leslie, to write the words."
After becoming the first song to be composed and performed simultaneously in the US and the UK, "Shepherd Of The Hills" would disappear into the netherworld of no-hit wonders, but their other collaboration, "Among My Souvenirs," would go on to feature in the 1946 film The Best Years Of Our Lives
, and become a big hit for Connie Francis on both sides of the Atlantic in 1959. It was also recorded by Marty Robbins, and as an album track by Ken Dodd. The enduring popularity of this short but poignant ballad may be due to the fact that like lyricist Leslie, so many of us find a broken heart among our souvenirs