From the Record Shelves #211

Dip Your Brush in the Sunshine

LP Sunbeam SB-115

Ted Lewis (1892–1971) had a long career in the entertainment business, with his top hat and clarinet combined with great charm. In this period, at the beginning of the 1930s, he takes on the task of trying to lift the spirits of his record buying audience. His personality, whether speaking or singing, comes through in happy numbers like Heading for Better Times or At Last I’m Happy. In some tunes he is broken-hearted and sentimental, but he is best remembered for asking, “Is everybody happy?”.

Lewis was the clarinet player in jazz pioneer Earl Fuller’s Band in New York before starting his own professional orchestra in 1917. In the 1920s and beginning of the 1930s, he employed several outstanding jazz musicians, especially clarinet players. Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy Dorsey and Don Murray can all be heard on his records, as can the clarinet soloist on today’s record, Benny Goodman. As a kid in short pants, Goodman once had success by imitating Ted Lewis eccentric playing in an amateur contest in Chicago’s Central Park. Now, in 1931, he was the clarinet king in the studios, and he and Muggsy Spanier on the cornet are ready to follow the intentions of their leader to provide a hot jazz performance to this tune.

I first heard the tune and recorded it on reel-to-reel tape, in a radio program in the 1960s, where it was said to be an example of a “double entendre” song.