Lyricist Joe Young, the writer behind such classic songs as “Dinah”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”, was born in New York City on July 4, 1889.
He began his career as a singer for music publishing firms in New York and during World War I he toured in Europe as an entertainer for US Troops. His first major songwriting success came in 1914 with the song “Don’t Blame it All On Broadway”. The song reached # 2 on the charts with a recording by the Peerless Quartet. He penned a second hit in 1914, again a top 5 recording by the Peerless Quartet, with the song “When the Angelus is Ringing”.
In 1916, he began a partnership with co-lyricist Sam M. Lewis that would last until the 1930’s. Together the team wrote for the Broadway show Robinson Crusoe, Jr., which included “Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night?” and “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula”. Both songs reached the #2 spot on the 1916 charts with recordings by Al Jolson.
For the next 14 years, Young and Lewis would collaborate with composers Walter Donaldson, Jean Schwartz, Ray Henderson, Harry Akst and Harry Warren. The hits produced during this time include “My Mammy”, “Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, “How Ya Gonna Keep “Em Down on the Farm?”, “Dinah”, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”, “King for a Day”, “In a Little Spanish Town”, “Then You’ve Never Been Blue”, “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” and “I Kiss Your Hand, Madame”. One of the last Young-Lewis projects was an early “talkie” motion picture Spring is Here. The film included “Crying for the Carolines”, “Have a Little Faith in Me”, “Bad Baby” and “How Shall I Tell?”. The last Young-Lewis lyric written was for the song “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”.
After 1930, Young continued writing hit songs, but never collaborated with another lyricist. Working with composers like Fred Ahlert, Carmen Lombardo, Harry Warren, Mort Dixon, John Shiras and Bernice Petkere, Young wrote “You’re Beautiful Tonight, My Dear”, “You’re My Everything”, “Ooh! That Kiss”, “Love Me Forever”, “That Torch Song”, “In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town”, “Lullaby of the Leaves”, “Snuggled on Your Shoulder, Cuddled in Your Arms”, “Was That the Human Thing To Do?”, “Something in the Night”, “Annie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, “I’m Growing Fonder of You”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, “You’re a Heavenly Thing”, “Sing an Old Fashioned Song” and “Dancing With You”.
Joe Young died in New York City on April 21, 1939. In addition to one of the great careers from Tin Pan Alley, he was a charter member of ASCAP in 1914 and acted as a director from 1926 through 1939.
WHERE DID ROBINSON CRUSOE GO WITH FRIDAY ON SATURDAY NIGHT?
Sam Lewis, George Meyer and Joe Young
EMI Mills Music, Inc./George Meyer Publishing/Warock Corp.
I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER
Joe Young, Fred E. Ahlert
Fred Ahlert Music Corp./Pencil Mark Music, Inc./RYTVOC, Inc.