I reviewed the 1949 musical comedy film, The Inspector General starring Danny Kaye, last week (please click this link to see my article Movie Review: The Inspector General). Danny Kaye is one of my favorite comedians and I think it is a great shame that so few people know who he is nowadays. Unfortunately, The Inspector General is the only one of Danny’s movies in the Public Domain. But fortunately, when I was researching Danny, I discovered that many of his songs are in the Public Domain and easily located at The Internet Archive.
Danny Kaye (1913 – 1987) was a famous actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. He made many popular movies between 1935 and 1969 and he hosted a television show, The Danny Kaye Show, from 1963 to 1967. Most of Danny’s movies and shows featured his famous tongue-twisting “nonsense songs.” Danny’s wife, Sylvia Fine, wrote many of his songs for him.
During his career, Danny worked with many famous singers and musicians, such as actor and crooner Bing Crosby, the harmonious trio of the Andrews Sisters, jazz legend Louis Armstrong, and singer / actress Dinah Shore. Danny was also regularly asked to direct orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. All this music and “Danny Kaye couldn’t read a note of music – he learned the scores by ear.”
Danny Kaye had his first hugely popular record when he “teamed with the popular Andrews Sisters (Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne) on Decca Records in 1947, producing the number-three Billboard smash hit “Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)”.” Danny and the Andrews Sisters also produced several other “rhythmically comical” and popular songs. Danny went on to record many other songs and record albums. Some of his albums were compilations of his songs from his many popular movies but he also produced albums of songs and stories for children. Danny even recorded several songs with his daughter Dena when she was still very young.
Fortunately for Danny Kaye fans, several of Danny’s songs and albums are in the Public Domain and available to download or listen to FREE. But fans should beware that there have been some “issues” with some content. For instance, I found a wonderful Danny Kaye Collection on The Internet Archive that included just about every Danny Kaye song and story a fan could desire. I was absolutely thrilled! There were 132 songs and stories! And I listened to and took notes on every single one! But I did not download the album and when I wrote this article and went to add links – the collection had been removed because of “issues with the item’s content.” I’m heartbroken. *sob*
But thankfully there are still many other songs and compilations available (thank goodness!) and I am going to list some, and their links, for fans of Danny Kaye to listen to and download.
First up is a compilation of songs from Danny Kaye’s movie The Inspector General. This album has 7 songs from the popular movie including the song “Arrogant! Elegant! Smart!” where 4 different Dannys sing and debate how the character Georgi can best pretend to be an Inspector General and the song “Play, Gypsy” where Georgi entertains party-goers and manages to set his hair on fire.
The Internet Archive also has 4 other Danny Kaye albums available. DANNY KAYE’S First Album – NEW TRANSFER has 8 selections that are a combination of silly and classic and includes “Minnie the Moocher.” The album Danny Kaye 78 rpms has 4 songs including “Tschaikowsky.” Danny Kaye-51-73 has 22 songs that range from story songs (“The King’s New Clothes”), nonsense songs (“Bloop Bleep”), sweet songs (“Inchworm”), and popular songs (“Big Brass Band From Brazil”) and has Danny teamed with the Andrews Sisters for a couple of songs. The best of the albums is Danny Kaye-01-50 which has 55 great songs. This is a excellent collection and has Danny singing several songs with the great Louis Armstrong (“When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey”). There are also songs from several of Danny’s movies (White Christmas, Hans Christian Andersen, The Court Jester, The Five Pennies) as well as tongue- twisters, nonsense songs, children’s songs, and popular hits. There is even a song with Danny’s daughter Dena (“Little Child”).
The Internet Archive also has several individual Danny Kaye recordings. The one I enjoyed the most is Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye – When The Saints Go Marching In 1959 which is a brilliant video of Danny singing with jazz icon Louis Armstrong. This clip is from Danny’s movie The Five Pennies. The song is energetic and infectious and Danny and Louis are absolutely fantastic together.
There are 3 individual songs with Danny joined by the legendary trio of boogie-woogie ladies, the Andrews Sisters. Their number-3 pop hit Civilization is a song I actually remember singing on my elementary school playground. This song is considered satire and is a funny tale about a “savage” who is resisting being “civilized.” Also available is a loveable holiday song Andrews Sisters, Danny Kaye – All I Want For Christmas 1951 and the popular song Andrews Sisters, Danny Kaye – Put ‘Em In A Box, Tie ‘Em With A Ribbon.
There are also 2 songs by Danny teamed with other popular singers of the times. Lawrence Melchoir is very serious and Danny is twisting the nonsense in Danny Kaye, Lawrence Melchoir – Home On The Range 1944. Danny also teams with Groucho Marx, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jimmy Durante to belt out a classic song at Blackstrap Molasses and Wheatgerm Bread although for some unknown reason there is an atrocious video of a ridiculous singing head included with this song taken from a radio show.
Then we have 3 of Danny Kaye’s children’s songs and stories. Danny sings and tells the story of an orchestra and a tuba in Tubby the Tuba. Danny performs a silly song in Al Trace, Danny Kaye – Mares Eat Oats. Danny quack quack quacks about a little white duck in Danny kaye – Little White Duck.
And last, but not least, are 3 more songs. Danny gets silly about fairy pipers in Danny Kaye – Come. Danny belts out some babble about Dina (although the link has it spelled “Bina.”) at Danny Kaye – Bina. And Danny has a broken heart in Danny kaye – Candy kisses.
If you are a Danny Kaye fan like me you will love these albums and songs. But I would advise downloading any of your favorites so they do not disappear on you as my wonderful album of 132 Danny songs did. And remember, the absolute best thing about the Public Domain is that all these treasures are FREE for everyone at The Internet Archive.
Please click on the links to find, listen to, and download some great Danny Kaye songs and albums:
Danny Kaye Albums
7 songs from the movie: THE INSPECTOR GENERAL – Musical Selections
Album of 8 songs: DANNY KAYE’S First Album – NEW TRANSFER
Album of 4 songs: Danny Kaye 78 rpms
Album of 22 songs: Danny Kaye-51-73
Album of 55 songs: Danny Kaye-01-50
Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye – When The Saints Go Marching In 1959
Danny Kaye with the Andrews Sisters:
Andrews Sisters, Danny Kaye – All I Want For Christmas 1951
Andrews Sisters, Danny Kaye – Put ‘Em In A Box, Tie ‘Em With A Ribbon