It’s Christmas time in the city

Titles make a difference.

The musical Oklahoma! was called Away We Go! when it opened at the Shubert Theatre in Connecticut in 1943. Film producer Mike Todd famously remarked at the end of Act 1, “No legs, no jokes, no chance.” Middling reviews led Rodgers and Hammerstein to tweak the show before it went to Broadway. Among the changes: adding the musical number “Oklahoma!” and retitling the show after the song. The revised version of the play ran for 15 years.

In 1954, composer Bart Howard wrote “In Other Words,” at first only a modest success. It grew more popular with recordings by top artists like Johnny Mathis and Peggy Lee. But most people called it “Fly Me to the Moon.” Howard eventually gave in, officially renaming the song in 1963.

Billy Rose and Yip Harburg set words to Harold Arlen’s music to create “If You Believed in Me.” The song appeared in a 1933 Broadway flop called The Great Magoo. “If You Believed in Me” found new life as “It’s Only a Paper Moon” in the movie Take a Chance, later that same year. No one remembers the movie, but the song lives on.

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans composed a Christmas song for the 1950 film The Lemon-Drop Kid. They decided to call it “Tinkle Bell.” Until Livingston’s wife heard about it:

… she asked him, incredulously, “Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word ‘tinkle’ means to most people?” She went on to explain its association with a very specific bodily function… (from

Renamed “Silver Bells,” the song became a classic.

Titles make a difference.

Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.


This entry was posted in Music history, Songwriters and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to It’s Christmas time in the city

  1. Sharie Van Gilder says:

    Interesting tidbits–thanks

  2. Jessa says:

    Lol, tinkle bells.

  3. Aunt Evie says:

    Your research constantly amazes me. Merry Christmas to all who enjoy your blogs!

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