Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds serving up a midnight feast and also entertaining the customers. Holiday Inn, 1942.
Finally finished Volume 2 of Gary Giddins’ masterful biography of Bing Crosby. To celebrate, here’s Bing singing It’s Been a Long, Long Time. Inspired by VE Day in 1945, Bing’s version, featuring Les Paul on guitar and not much else, hit #1 on the charts in December of that year. According to Giddins, “Bing saw immediately that the lyric worked equally well as the entreaty of Odysseus to Penelope or Penelope to Odysseus.”
We’re overdue for some Bing on this page. Crosby not only sings, he provides percussion for Rhythm on the River, from the 1940 film of the same name.
That would be Two Shillelagh O’Sullivan sung by Bing Crosby and written by Perry Botkin and Preston Foster. Botkin was a session musician who played with, well, everybody, from Al Jolson to Roy Rogers to Spike Jones, and then was Bing’s music director for many years.
Preston Foster, born in New Jersey, was an actor on Broadway and in Hollywood (he had roles in Annie Oakley and The Informer, among many others). He also was a singer and songwriter. In 1952, he and Botkin wrote about the fantastical O’Sullivan, “This bronco-busting Irishman from the sod of Erin’s Isle” who didn’t need a six gun, because he always had his two shillelaghs (“the Tipperary rifle, you never have to reload it”).
Inspired, no doubt, by the tall tales of Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan, O’Sullivan could lick them both. In fact,
“He was so strong… He could put his right hand in his own left pocket, and hold himself out at arm’s length. ”
“No man could do that!”
“It’s O’Sullivan I’m talking about!”
“Oh, well he could.”
Listen to Bing sing about O’Sullivan here: