Shepherd Of The Hills

Album: Shepherd Of The Hills (1927)
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  • It is difficult to believe this unremarkable song holds a unique place in the history of contemporary music, but it was the first one to be debuted simultaneously on two continents. It is also quite likely the first and only song ever to have been half-written by an Englishman in the middle of the Atlantic and completed by an American in New York.

    In 1926, songwriter and music business entrepreneur Lawrence Wright founded the Melody Maker newspaper. The following year he boarded the SS Majestic at Southampton for New York to drum up business in the enormous American market. Traveling with him was Joseph George Gilbert, who went on to pen the lyrics to a number of Wright's songs.
    Writing in Melody Maker shortly afterwards, Gilbert said the idea of the collaboration came to Wright only after they had departed. In New York, established songwriter Edgar Leslie wrote the lyrics, and also drummed up publicity for the song. The American rights were sold to Irving Berlin, Inc.

    An earlier issue of the same paper related how Leslie completed the lyrics on Thursday, February 10, 1927, and the song was then transmitted from his 40th floor Broadway office to Wright's London office at 5 p.m. London time where it was taken down by Jack Hylton, whose band performed it at the Alhambra at 8:40 p.m. that same night. The cost of the half hour telephone call was said to be nearly one hundred and fifty pounds, a staggering sum in those days.

    It was performed later that same night in New York (also February 10, owing to the five-hour time difference), and recorded at HMV studios at Hayes on February 11.
  • This might be called a homecoming song judging from the lyric, although it is not unlikely Leslie borrowed the title if nothing else from The Shepherd Of The Hills, by best-selling American author Harold Bell Wright, whose novel was also made into a film, in 1941, featuring John Wayne. When it was published in England by Lawrence Wright Music of London, the music was credited to Horatio Nicholls, the name under which Wright mostly composed. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 1

  • Les from Tunbridge Wells, EnglandI once heard that the inspiration for this song was a wireless news report about a shepherd missing somewhere on the hills. I wonder if this has any substance ?
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