Happy Days Are Here Again

Album: The Leo Reisman Hits Collection 1921-40 (1929)
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Songfacts®:

  • This upbeat anthem goes hand in hand with America's recovery from the Great Depression, but the song was written shortly before the stock market collapse that triggered it on October 24, 1929.

    The songwriting team of Jack Yellen and Milton Ager wrote it for the film Chasing Rainbows, which was being made in 1929 but wasn't released until early 1930, a few months after the stock market crash. The song, though, was released as a single in late 1929 by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra with Lew Conrad on vocals. A few different versions were released in 1930, which is a bit macabre considering the Great Depression was underway. Some popular versions issued that year were by Ben Selvin and his Orchestra (with Annette Hanshaw on vocals) and Jack Hylton and His Orchestra.
  • This song was revived in 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt used it as his campaign song in 1932 when he ran for president. Not only did he win, he helped pull America out of the Depression with the New Deal and was re-elected three times, serving until his death in 1945 (this is before term limits). The song has since been associated with the Democratic party, which Roosevelt was affiliated with.
  • In the movie Chasing Rainbows, this is sung by Charles King, who plays a vaudeville performer named Terry Fay.
  • The song's writers, Jack Yellen and Milton Ager, had written a number of popular songs, including "Ain't She Sweet" and "I'm The Last Of The Red Hot Mammas." This one didn't require much effort on their part. Speaking with David Ewen, Jack Yellen explained how "Happy Days Are Here Again" came to be: "In the last week of production, the producer of Chasing Rainbows phoned me and said he wanted a song for a scene in which a group of World War I soldiers receive news of the armistice. I relayed the message to Ager, whom I hadn't seen in weeks. He said he would stop at my house the next morning, on his way to the golf course. He came in, sat down at the piano, and lighted a cigar. "Got a title?" he asked finally. I didn't have any, but blurted out, "Happy days are here again." The first tune he played was good enough. He kept playing the melody and I scribbled off the first words that came to me and handed him the corny lyrics. His only comment was that he didn't thing the lyric should start with the title. I said I thought it should, and the conversation ended."
  • "Happy Days Are Here Again" is a staple of Barbra Streisand's setlists. She first recorded the song in 1962, releasing it as a single before she rose to stardom.

    Other artists to record the song include Mitch Miller, Mark Murphy, Tiny Tim and Billy Porter.
  • This song has been used in many movies and TV shows. TV appearances include:

    Perry Mason ("Chapter One" - 2020)
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ("The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets" - 2017)
    Boardwalk Empire ("What Jesus Said" - 2014)
    Two and a Half Men ("A Bottle of Wine and a Jackhammer" - 2010)
    Law & Order ("Lucky Stiff" - 2009)
    Doctor Who ("Evolution of the Daleks", "Daleks in Manhattan" - 2007)
    The West Wing ("Five Votes Down" - 1999)
    The Simpsons ("Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" - 1992)
    Moonlighting ("And the Flesh Was Made Word" - 1988)
    All in the Family ("The Unemployment Story: Part 1" - 1976)

    It was also used in six episodes of M*A*S*H

    Movie uses include:

    Little Boy (2015)
    Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (2011)
    Idlewild (2006)
    Cats & Dogs (2001)
    28 Days (2000)
    Primary Colors (1998)
    Nixon (1995)
    Dolores Claiborne (1995)
    For Love or Money (1993)
    The Distinguished Gentleman (1992)
    True Colors (1991)
  • Chic quoted this song in their 1977 hit "Good Times" with the lines:

    Happy days are here again
    The time is right for makin' friends


    "Good Times" expresses the optimism coming out of the recession of the 1970s, so it's writers, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, felt "Happy Days Are Here Again," a song associated with the end of the Great Depression, was a good song to evoke.

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