“I Fell for You.” Composed by Rowland Leigh (words) and William Walker (music) for Charlot’s Masquerade (1930). Recorded in London on October 4, 1930 by Percival Mackey and His Band with vocalist Maurice Elwin. Columbia CB-145 mx. WA-10736-2.
Personnel: Percival Mackey dir. Jack Jackson-Andy Richardson-t / Ben Oakley-tb / Chester Smith-another?-cl-as / George Smith-ts / Dave Fish-vn / Pat Dodd-p / Bob Martin-bj-g / Jim Bellamy-bb-sb / Bill Harty-d / Maurice Elwin-v
Percival Mackey’s version of “I Fell for You,” with its Maurice Elwin vocal refrain, starts out in a most impressive, stately fashion, and until we hear the lyric, it does not sound ridiculous in the slightest. Like “Who Cares?” “I Fell for You” comes from André Charlot’s sophisticated, short-lived Charlot’s Masquerade (1930) and has the same lyricist, Rowland Leigh. The song was introduced on stage by actors Constance Carpenter and Patrick Waddington, and we are fortunate to have a record of Waddington himself singing it to the piano accompaniment of Peggy Cochrane and William Walker (the song’s composer). The complete song is very witty, but I think the funniest lyrics have been fully preserved in the arrangement that Percival Mackey uses:
I fell like an apple from an apple tree, I fell like a Dutchman in the Zuiderzee, I fell like a Scotsman falls for £sd On the day I fell for you.
(As an American, I had to think a little bit when I first heard that verse. “Ell-ess-DEE” refers to the symbols for pounds, shillings, and pence, and not the popular hallucinogenic drug, and Scotsmen were once reputed to be thrifty, if not stingy or miserly. Apparently Maurice Elwin, a Scot himself, was being a good sport that day.)
The lyrics continue in that vein, using bathetic similes involving falling, literally or metaphorically, to describe the act of falling in love. Elwin seems to be doing something comparable to telling a joke with a completely straight face; he sounds earnest, as if he does not know in the slightest how silly he sounds. He is all enthusiasm and warmth.
Another British dance band version recorded of “I Fell For You” in 1930 was that of Jack Leon (v. Jack Plant). Ray Noble had recorded an instrumental version of it in a medley of songs from Charlot’s Masquerade.