If there is one candidate for the theme song of the Great Depression in America, this Al Dubin/Harry Warren torch song would probably run a close second (to Yip Harburg's "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"). Remick Music was the original publisher, and a recording by Jan Garber went to #6 on the charts in 1934.
    Verse 1:
    Nightly, lights are shining brightly,
    Feet are tripping lightly
    While the music plays.
    Madness, in the guise of gladness,
    Overcoming sadness
    In a million ways;
    Oh, Gay Paree, look what you've done to me.

    I walk along the street of sorrow
    The boulevard of broken dreams,
    Where gigolo and gigolette,
    Can take a kiss without regret.
    So they forget the broken dreams.
    You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow
    When you behold your scattered schemes,
    And gigolo and gigolette,
    Wake up to find their eyes are wet
    With tears that tell of broken dreams.

    Here is where you’ll always find me,
    Always walking up and down
    But I left my soul behind me
    In an old Cathedral town.

    The joy that you find here you borrow
    You can not keep it long, it seems.
    But gigolo and gigolette,
    Still sing a song and dance along
    The boulevard of broken dreams.

    Verse 2: Smiling while my woes are piling,
    I must be beguiling
    Or they'll pass me by.
    Laughter, that is what they're after,
    But behind my laughter,
    There's a tear-dimmed eye;
    Oh, Gay Paree, you've made a wreck of me.

The song has been recorded by numerous artists, including Tony Bennett, Connie Boswell, Nat King Cole, Dianna Krall, Brian Setzer, Marianne Faithful, Esquivel, and Connie Champagne. It was originally written for 20th Century Fox's first musical, the 1934 film Moulin Rouge, in which it was sung by Constance Bennett.

Underground cartoonist Kim Deitch appropriated the title of the song for his 2002 graphic novel featuring Waldo the Cat, which tells the story of Waldo and his animator, Ted Mishkin, in their many years (going back to the Great Depression) working at the Fontaine Talking Fables animation studio.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams was also a Dutch jazz orchestra, created in the 1980s by Gert-Jan Blom (The Beau Hunks), to play sad songs of the Depression-era. The 16-piece band (4 vocalists, 4 horns, 4 violins, 4 in the rhythm section released three albums on Idiot Records:

  • It's the Talk of the Town (1985), which includes a version of the Dubin/Warren song;
  • Lonely Avenue (1986); and
  • Dancing with Tears in my Eyes (1987)A box set of all three CDs is available.
  • Sources:
    Corliss, Richard. "That Old Feeling: We Need Harry Warren." Time Online Edition. 5 October 2001. <http://www.time.com/time/sampler/article/0,8599,178367,00.html> (26 November 2002)

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