One of the most sucessful popular songwriters in the “golden era” of the big bands was Chester Babcock. Who? Don’t remember Babcock? He wrote the music for two of Tommy Dorsey’s biggest hits “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and “Imagination” with lyricist, Johnny Burke. In fact he is one of the most successful tunesmiths of all time. His ASCAP royalties many years were second only to Irving Berlin.
Babcock had four “Oscars” and one “Emmy” award among his credits. He wrote more songs (85) recorded by Frank Sinatra, his long time friend, than any other composer. He also composed the songs for another good friend, Bing Crosby for six of the seven Crosby/Hope Road pictures. In one of the “Road” pictures, Bob Hope’s character is named…..Chester Babcock! Frank Sinatra, in his Trilogy album, states that he wants “Chester” to write one more song for him.
Here’s a partial list of Babcock’s hits (with credit to his lyricists)
“But Beautiful” ( Johnny Burke)
“Come Dance with Me” ( Sammy Cahn)
“Come Fly With Me” ( Sammy Cahn)
“Darn That Dream” ( Eddie DeLange)
“Here’s That Rainy Day” ( Johnny Burke)
“I Thought About You”
“Imagination” ( Johnny Burke)
“It Could Happen to You” ( Johnny Burke)
“Like Someone in Love” ( Johnny Burke)
“Love and Marriage” ( Sammy Cahn)
“Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” ( Phil Silvers)
“Polka Dots and Moonbeams” ( Johnny Burke)
“The Second Time Around” ( Sammy Cahn)
“Love is the Tender Trap” ( Sammy Cahn)
The story behind the song “Nancy” see below.
Ok….who is he? Chester Babcock started in New York as a song plugger on “Tin Pan Alley” (NYC’s Brill Building), but it soon became clear that the Babcock name for obvious professional reasons had to go. Chester, whom I worked with in the 1979-80 period, told me that he looked out his office window one day, and there he found his new name on the roof of a truck. It was the name of the most famous shirtmaker of the day, Van Heusen. Thus, from then on, he was James Van Heusen.
Read the true sory below of who wrote Nancy and watch my video from shipboard Sinatra lecture.
For more info: www.jimmyvanheusen.com