Ray Henderson: Anchor of a Great Songwriting Team


Today is the birthday of the great Tin Pan Alley songwiter Ray Henderson (b. Raymond Brost, 1896-1970). He is best known as the “Henderson” in “Henderson/ Brown/ DeSylva“, the great songwriting team that gave us “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (all 1925), “The Birth of the Blues” (1926), “The Varsity Drag” (1927), “You’re The Cream In My Coffee” (1928), “Button Up Your Overcoat”, “You Are My Lucky Star” “I’m A Dreamer, Aren’t We All”, and “Keep Your Sunny Side Up” (1929). When I was 19 or 20, I found a record in the library that contained most of these tunes, and I played it and played it and played it. It taught me a lot about songwriting.

Henderson started out as an accompanist in vaudeville. As composer he was associated with several editions of George White’s Scandals and numerous book shows, including several starring Bert Lahr (Hold Everything, Flying High and Hot-Cha!) . After 1936 Broadway work started to cool off too although he did write the music for the extremely successful Ziegfeld Follies of 1943, which ran almost a year.

Now, here’s Jolie singing one of Henderson, Brown & DeSylva’s best numbers. If you play it this morning, I guarantee the rest of your day will be a happy one:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.



  1. How do I listen to what you send in your Travalanch messages?
    And Why is this site so dark I am like a Blind Man searching
    for light.I may not even find the “send” button.Thank you


    • 1. I would check the volume controls on your computer and/or the Youtube window when you play the clip. If you can’t hear anything, my guess is that you either have it muted, or the sound is turned all the way down.

      2. Regarding the darkness, I would check the brightness control on your computer monitor. Other folks report being able to see and read the blog just fine.

      Thanks for reading


      • How can I find a link to click on in your email? Can you be more specific on it? My speakers are fine. As far as the Dark background here my screen is as bright as my eyes can tolerate..So, why not make it light Gray? If one of us cannot see what is there easily then that is one too many.One of my cousins was in Vaudeville in the Orpheum Circuit on the West Coast . Want to see all you have.Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.