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
Nightly, lights are shining brightly,
Feet are tripping lightly
While the music plays.
Madness, in the guise of gladness,
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
, 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.
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)