FROM THE ARCHIVE 280 -1966-

Johnny One Note
Written by Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart

Released 1966 on the album I’ve Got A Song For You. A live recording from the Carnegie Hall 1964 has been released 1994 digitally remastered on the collection Bassey – The EMI/UA Years. Two other great live versions are on Live At Carnegie Hall from 1973 and on the 1977 Live In Japan ’77. The studio version had been released digitally remastered on Shirley Bassey – The Collection 1993. Two studio versions have been released, one directed by Arnold Goland and the other by Ralph Burns.

This song was performed live during the Thank you for the Years Tour 2003.

This song is from the musical “Babes in Arms” for which the premiere had been on April 14th, 1937 in the Shubert Theatre in New York. The musical had 289 Performances. 1939 a movie has been made out of the musical with Judy Garland singing. The song has also been interpreted by Ella Fitzgerald and many more famous artists.

The musical contained more great songs Shirley Bassey has also performed: “The Lady Is A Tramp”, “Where Or When” and “My Funny Valentine”. The story is about a group of vaudevillians who want to revive their old fashioned form of entertainment by doing a road show. “Johnny One Note” is sung as a bedtime story. A kind of fairy tale about a very ego-centred singer who is so very loud that nobody can hear the soprano. This lady singer asks her godmother to put a spell on Johnny, so that the next time he wants to impress everybody by holding his note as long as possible he has to held it forever. (Thanks to John for this additional information.)

Shirley Bassey wrote about “Johnny One Note”:

I don’t always recognize the right songs for me the first time I hear them. For a long time I was asked to do ‘Johnny One Note’, but I couldn’t do it for many, many years. Then one day Eddie Fisher’s musical director just sat at the piano and said, ‘This is a good song for you’, and started playing ‘Johnny One Note’. The way he played it, I got so excited, but I said ‘I can’t do this song’. ‘Why not?’ he asked. ‘Well, when I was discovered, the girl whose place I took in the show, she had a big hit with this song and I’ve never been able to touch this song.’ ‘Well, try it,’ he said. And I was amazed when I opened my mouth: this voice came out singing this song as though it was mine. So, after all those years – it was about ten years, I believe – when we actually got down to it, it was a piece of cake. Shirley Bassey performed this song live recently on many concerts of her Millennium Tour.

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Lyrics

Johnny could only sing one note
And the note he sang was this: aaaahh

Poor Johnny One Note
Sang out with Gusto
And just overloaded the place
Poor Johnny One Note
Yelled willy-nilly
Until he was blue in the face
For holding one note was his ace
Couldn’t hear the brass
Couldn’t hear the drum
He was in a class
By himself, by gum

Poor Johnny One Note
Got in Aida indeed a great chance to be brave
He took his one note
Howled like the North Wind
Brought forth wind that made critics rave
While Verdi turned round in his grave

Couldn’t hear the flute
Or the big trombone
Everyone was mute
Johnny stood alone
Cats and dogs stopped yapping
Lions in the zoo
Were all jealous of Johnny’s big thrill
Thunderclaps stopped clapping
Traffic ceased its roar
And they tell us Niagara stood still
He stopped the train whistles
Boat whistles
Steam whistles
Cop whistles
All whistles bowed to his skill

Sing Johnny One Note
Sing out with gusto
And just overwhelm all the crowd
Aaah

So sing, Johnny One Note out loud
Sing, Johnny One Note
Sing – Johnny – One Note – Out loud

(Transcribed by Roman)

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