Happy Birthday, Smith Ballew!

If you turned on your radio in the 1920s and early 1930s (or, for that matter, if you tuned into Cladrite Radio right now), you wouldn’t have to wait long before you heard the crooning of one of a handful of popular male vocalists: Chick Bullock, Scrappy Lambert, Dick Robertson and a few others.

These weren’t the biggest stars of the day—they didn’t rank up with, say, Bing Crosby or Rudy Vallée—but they were among the busiest singers for hire, performing and recording with a lengthy roster of the most popular orchestras of the day, and, depending upon which contractual restrictions they were violating at the time, often being credited under various pseudonyms.

And probably as busy as any of them was Smith Ballew, who was born 114 years ago today in Palestine, Texas. Ballew was a popular radio singer and sang on literally hundreds of records. He was so busy that he once reported for for-hire session at a recording studio in NYC with no earthly idea who he was to be singing with that day—it turned out to be Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

Smith Ballew

After this busy phase of his career, Smith Ballew became a singing cowboy in the movies, starring in 17 pictures between 1936 and 1951. He retired from Hollywood after that, moving back to the Lone Star state, where he took a position as manager in the missiles division of an aircraft company. He passed away in 1984.

Happy birthday, Mr. Ballew, and thanks for the musical memories!

Everything old is new again

Well, the tough times that have been making it rough for so many for so long have touched Cladrite Radio, too: We got the go-by (perhaps “bye-bye” is more apt) from our employer of nearly eight years. It wasn’t a firing, they assured us. Our work remained stellar, or so they insisted. It was, instead, a down-sizing. In short, they eliminated our position altogether.

So it struck us as fitting when, just a day or two later, we came across a 1933 recording by Gene Kardos and His Orchestra of Abel Baer and Sam M. Lewis’ “If I Ever Get a Job Again.”

The perky tune pepped us up just a smidge, and the words struck us as being just as appropriate today as when they were written, nearly eighty years ago.

Give a listen, and see what you think.

Gene Kardos and His Orchestra, feat. Dick Robertson — “If I Ever Get a Job Again”

If I ever get a job again,
I will never be a snob again.
I’ll live within my means,
Carry a dollar in my jeans
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get a break again,
Brother, what I’ll do to stake again.
No turning out the light,
Bidding my appetite good night
If I ever get a break again.

I’ll get two rooms and a kitchenette,
Furnished comfortably.
With two rooms and a kitchenette,
I’ll get a sweet somebody to move in with me.

If I ever get a job again,
I know that two hearts’ll throb again.
She told me with her eyes,
We’ll be rehearsing lullabyes
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get a job again,
I will never be a snob again.
I’m through with stocks and bonds,
I’d rather spend it all on blondes
If I ever get a job again.

If I ever get my pay again,
I’ll save it for a rainy day again.
But let me tell you, bud,
I’m gonna save up for a flood
If I ever get my pay again.

I’ll get two suits and an overcoat,
Like a millionaire.
Just two suits and an overcoat,
And then when things get better,
I’ll buy underwear.

If I ever get a job again,
With my old friends I’ll hobnob again.
What great fun it will be,
Saying, “Just have one more on me,”
If I ever get a job again.

—Abel Baer (music); Sam M. Lewis (lyrics)

P.S. If you know of a job opening that might suit us, get in touch!