The Song Is You: Margaret Whiting

by J.C. Marion 2004 The World of Marion-Net E-zines

Richard Whiting was a self taught pianist and composer who wrote for motion pictures mostly during the nineteen thirties. Some of his enduring songs are Sleepy Time Gal, Beyond The Blue Horizon, One Hour With You, On The Good Ship Lollipop, Hooray For Hollywood, and Too Marvelous For Words. He was at his creative peak when he passed away in 1938 at the age of 46. One of his family survivors was his daughter Margaret who was fourteen years old at the time of Richard Whiting's death.

Music was almost second nature to her and as a teenager she found radio work with Johnny Mercer (one of the musical collaborators with her father) and the show Your Hit Parade. She gained attention soon with her recording of That Old Black Magic with Freddy Slack (Capitol 126), and two tunes recorded with Billy Butterfield - My Ideal (Capitol 134) and Moonlight In Vermont on Capitol 182, a million seller.



Margaret Whiting Vocals

Margaret Whiting 


In late 1945 she recorded the tune that would become her signature song It Might As Well Be Spring on Capitol 214 with the orchestra of Paul Weston. As Spring continued to sell into 1946 Margaret Whiting became one of the top recording artists of the era. All Through The Day / In Love In Vain were two songs from the motion picture Centennial Summer and both sold well for Capitol (#240) through the spring of 1946. The old belter Come Rain Or Come Shine on #247 (from the Broadway show St. Louis Woman) charted briefly, and was followed by another show tune Along With Me (from Call Me Mister) on #269. Later in the year Passe on #294 charted, and at the end of the year Guilty and Oh But I Do with Jerry Gray's orchestra (both songs from the picture The Time, The Place, and the Girl #324) charted in the top five in the country. The record remained on the charts for over four months. Beware My Heart and What Am I Going To Do About You on #350 did not sell but in the spring of 1947 Beware My Heart was released on #360 and made the top twenty. Spring Isn't Everything / Time After Time on #383 was not successful but Old Devil Moon (from the Broadway show Finian's Rainbow) and Ask Anyone Who Knows on #410 both of which charted in the top twenty were. Record buyers bypassed What Are You Doing New Years Eve and Don't Tell Me on #427 but Margaret Whiting continued to hit the charts with songs from films and Broadway musicals. Little Girl Blue (from the Broadway show Dumbo) spent only one week on the charts, but the following release of You Do on Capitol #438 (from the film Mother Wore Tights) was a solid seller getting as high as the number five position in the country. Whiting ended the year 1947 with Lazy Countryside (from the Disney film Fun And Fancy Free) on #461.

Margaret started the year 1948 with Pass The Peacepipe on #15010 (from the film Good News) a solid seller in the top ten, and the flip side Let's Be Sweethearts Again which also made the charts. In late February But Beautiful on #15024 (from the film Road To Morocco) charts for two weeks but the flip side Now Is The Hour was a huge hit getting to number two in the country and a charted record for four months. Two more film songs followed - What's Good About Goodbye? on #15038 (from Casbah) and Please Don't Kiss Me on #15058 (from The Lady From Shanghai) were minor hits. The next release by Whiting for Capitol hit the jackpot. She chose a song from Great Britain called A Tree In The Meadow and it was released on #15122 and hit the charts in July of the year. All through Summer and into the Fall Tree was a hugely popular record and a steady seller. It remained a top chart tune for six months and held the number one position for a month and a half and turned out to be Whiting's second million seller. She followed that smash with Far Away Places recorded with The Crew Chiefs on #15278. Another huge seller, Places was kept out of the number one spot only by A Little Birdie Told Me by Evelyn Knight. Margaret Whiting's record held down the number two position for six straight weeks. In April of 1949, Forever And Ever an adapted song from Switzerland, was another big hit for Margaret. The tune on Capitol #15386 was a top five seller and spent more than four months on the charts. By this time Whiting was recognized as one of the top selling vocalists (male or female) of the post war era. Continuing to work with the orchestra of Frank DeVol, A Wonderful Guy from the Broadway musical South Pacific released on #542 was also a good seller. She topped that effort with her next recording on #567 which was a duet with old friend Johnny Mercer on Baby It's Cold Outside from the Esther Williams picture Neptune's Daughter. Five months on the charts and a top three seller in the country set the stage for a real change of pace. During the summer she recorded another duet-this time with one of the great singing cowboys of all time, Jimmy Wakely. The result was Slippin' Around and Wedding Bells Will Soon Be Ringing on Capitol #40224 (note the varying numbering sequences for Capitol Records). Both sides charted, but Slippin' Around was a national sensation. It charted well into the following year remaining on the best seller lists for six months, number one for three weeks, and a solid million seller (Whiting's third).

A Dime A Dozen on #709 got briefly into the top twenty as it was lost in the popularity of her previous recording. At the end of 1949, it was time for a sequel with Jimmy Wakely and so I'll Never Slip Around Again was released by Capitol on #40246. It was a solid hit but not on the massive level of the first time around. Again got well into the top ten and was a three month keeper on the best seller charts. The duo tried again in late February of 1959 with The Gods Were Angry With Me and Broken Down Merry-Go-Round on #800. Both sides charted in the top twenty and remained best sellers for two months. A solo effort in the spring of 1950 I Said My Pajamas (And Put On My Prayers) followed on #841 and had a brief stay in the best seller list. Another duet with Jimmy Wakely followed - Let's Go To Church Next Sunday Morning on #960 which joined the nostalgia craze in popular music in 1950 and was a solid seller for two months. In May a solo effort on Capitol #934 with Frank DeVol's orchestra performing the tune My Foolish Heart was also a top twenty seller and a two month chart hit. Six years and counting as a solid recording star had given Whiting a well deserved reputation as among the biggest stars in the country. She teamed with none other than Bob Hope for her next Capitol release on #1042 with the song Blind Date and was accompanied by the band of Billy May. Despite the noteworthy talent on the record, it did not do well in sales. Rather than Jimmy Wakely, Margaret recorded a duet side with Dean Martin on #1160 with the tunes Don't Rock The Boat Dear and I'm In Love With You. In late October a song from the Broadway show Guys And Dolls called A Bushel And A Peck was released on #1234. Once again she was teamed with Jimmy Wakely, and despite a top selling competing version of the song by Perry Como and Betty Hutton, the Whiting-Wakely record was a huge hit. Close to four months on the charts and a top ten seller (as high as number six nationally) was however, margaret Whiting's last major success as a recording artist.

When You And I Were Young Maggie Blues on #1500, another duet with Wakely lasted two weeks on the charts. Am I Losing You and Star Of Hope another duet with Wakely on #1555 was not successful, nor was Hoppy, Topper, And Me and This Little Piggy on #1566 which seemed to be aimed at youngsters. Capitol #1585 paired Everlasting and The End Of A Love Affair lost out but was followed by Good Morning Mr. Echo on #1702 which did moderately well lasting five weeks and a number 14 position. Beer Barrel Polka / And So To Sleep Again on #1784, Bill on #1801, and another duet with Jimmy Wakely - I Don't Want To Be Free and Let's Live A Little on #1816 did not do well. The next few releases by Whiting for Capitol were also mostly not well received. They were That's For Sure on #1845, Round And Round on #1939, another duet with Wakely on the tunes Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way and Give Me More on #1965, and Foggy River on #1984.The next three Whiting releases for Capitol barely charted at all - I'll Walk Alone on #2000, Outside Of Heaven on #2217, and a cover of Why Don't You Believe Me? on #2292. Singing Bells on #2331, I Learned To Love You Too Late with Wakely (with a solo effort by Wakely on the flip side on a cover of Richard Bowers Gomen-Nasai) and Something Wonderful Happens on #2489 did not sell, and Margaret Whiting's final appearance on the pop charts ( in early 1954) was with a remake of her hit from 1944 - Moonlight In Vermont this time with the orchestra of Lou Busch on #2681.

By mid 1954 it was apparent that Margaret Whiting's time as a top recording artist of popular music in America was at an end. The demographics were changing rapidly as teenagers were now the moving force behind record sales. The rock 'n' roll revolution was at hand, and so Whiting began to concentrate on personal appearances and to move to the growing market of record LPs geared to adults. The Capitol releases kept coming - When Love Goes Wrong / My Heart Knows with Jimmy Wakely on #2528, C.O.D. on #2550, The Night Holds No Fear on #2599, another Wakely duet on Tennessee Church Bells and There's A Silver Moon on #2689, I Speak To The Stars on #2717, a cover of Betty Madigan's hit Joey on #2853, An Affair Of The Heart on #2869, Can This Be Love on #2913, and My Own True Love on #2996. However, she still had a tune or two that had appeal for record buyers. In late 1956 in the teeth of the first golden age of rock music, The Money Tree on Capitol #3586 was a top twenty seller. She was also in a show with her sister Barbara called Those Whiting Girls and in December both appeared on the Ernie Ford television show. Soon Margaret's long collaboration with Capitol Records came to an end.

Margaret Whiting spent the late nineteen fifties on record with a series of LP recordings for the Dot Records label in 1958. Some of the better received LPs were Going Places on #3072, Margaret on #3113, Greatest Hits on #3176, and Ten Top Hits on #3235. Dot Records also released some singles during this time such as Hank Williams classic I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry on #15742, Kill Me With Kisses on #15583, and I'm Alone Because I Love You on #15931. She next recorded for Verve in 1960 with the critically acclaimed Jerome Kern Songbook album (LP #4039) a double LP and the duet album with Mel Torme Broadway Right Now, both were arranged and conducted by Russ Garcia. Whiting returned to Capitol briefly in 1965. Next she went to London Records in 1966 and appeared on singles such as Wheel Of Hurt on #101, Where Do I Stand / Only Love Can Break A Heart on #108, I Almost Called Your Name on #115, It Keeps Right On A-Hurting on London #119, I Can't Get You Out Of My Mind on #124, Life Goes On  on #132, and Until It's Time For You To Go on #137. LP albums recorded for London include Pop Country on LP #527, Wheel Of Hurt LP #3497, and the wonderfully named Maggie Isn't Margaret Anymore LP #3510. There were also LPs for MGM Past Midnight LP #4006, Audiophile - Too Marvelous For Words on LP #152 and The Lady's In Love With You LP #207, an interesting turn on Mel Torme Sings for Strand.

Whiting was then absent from the recording studios for almost two decades but she made occasional appearances as a presenter of many of the wonderful songs written by her father. In 1997 Margaret Whiting appeared on a PBS television tribute show honoring the musical legacy of her old family friend Johnny Mercer. The show called Too Marvelous For Words featured Whiting with John Pizzarelli on In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening, a duet with Johnny Mathis on the tune Accentuate The Positive, and vocal solos on One For My Baby and My Shining Hour. Fifty years after her first big hit recording, Whiting still showed the world that she still possessed the talent and appreciation for the great songs of our time. Her infinite ability to be such an interpreter of American popular standards is a musical gift that comes along so very very rarely in our lifetime. Margaret Whiting - the song IS truly you.