Significant Songs (79)

Pennies From Heaven

This song originated as the feature track from the 1936 film of the same name. Originally sung by Bing Crosby in that film, it was later recorded by almost every famous singer since. The list of those who covered the song is too long to write here, but it includes Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. For me, this is best heard sung by a ‘crooner’, and the sadness underlying the central message of hope comes over well if it is recorded in a somewhat plaintive tone.

In 1978, the BBC produced a landmark television series of the same title, written by Dennis Potter, and starring Bob Hoskins, Cheryl Campbell, and Gemma Craven. The song featured heavily of course, and the version used was by Arthur Tracy. This was also made into a -best forgotten- Hollywood film adapted by and starring Steve Martin. The TV series brought the song back into my consciousness. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and 37 years later, this is still true today.

Arthur Tracy was really Abba Tracovutsky, so no surprise he changed to his stage name. He emigrated to the US from Russia in 1906, and some years later, become popular in musical theatre. He adopted the name ‘The Street Singer’, to add a certain intrigue to his radio performances, and became very well known during the 1930s. He even came out of retirement at the age of 82 to perform live, after the success of the TV series and film brought his voice to the attention of new listeners. He lived to the grand old age of 98, leaving a legacy of some memorable song performances, including this one.

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11 thoughts on “Significant Songs (79)

  1. I’m trying to remember if I watched the series. I definitely watched the movie and I recall clearly the Singing Detective (truly extraordinary), so might have to explore and see. I do love the song.

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    1. Thanks Olga. The BBC TV series is in a different league to the poor film effort, and well-worth watching. I hope you manage to get the time to see it.
      Very best wishes, Pete.

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  2. You’ll find your fortune falling all over town
    Be sure that your umbrella is upside down
    Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
    If you want the things you love

    It’s a very nice song. I’ve never seen any film or TV series connected with it, but would almost certainly enjoy it.

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    1. I have a feeling that you might enjoy the British TV series ‘Pennies From Heaven’ David. It is a very interesting story, and the historical setting is well done indeed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Pete, what a nice post about Arthur Tracy, I remember well his rendition of this song. His voice always stood out to me, because there was such feeling in his voice. Thank you dear friend for the memories of days past.. Have a restful weekend across the pond…

    Happy blogging to ya, from Laura ~

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