“Ya Gotta Know How to Love.” Words by Bud Green, music by Harry Warren (1926). Recorded on October 6, 1926 by Elsie Carlisle with piano and vocal accompaniment by Carroll Gibbons. Zonophone 2815.
Original 78 rpm transfer by Erik Høst
In his famous November 4, 1938 article in Radio Pictorial (which either originated or, at the least, strongly reinforced Elsie Carlisle’s epithet “Radio Sweetheart No. 1”), reporter Ralph Graves recounts Elsie’s first meeting with American pianist Carroll Gibbons (who would, the next year, become the bandleader of the Savoy Hotel Orpheans):
Now for another scene.
This time not a swank lunch, but a very informal party.
Elsie was asked to sing. No, she hadn’t her music, but a quiet, bespectacled young man at the piano knew all the latest numbers, and could instantly transpose into any key Elsie wanted.
She sang several numbers which went down well, but the outstanding thought in Elsie’s mind was what a good accompanist this young man was. And when he played some piano solos on his own afterwards her opinion of him went up.
She asked who he was.
“That chap at the piano? Oh, he’s a Mr. Gibbons. Just come over from the States with Rudy Vallee, you know. Carroll Gibbons I believe his name is….”
That was in the days when Carroll was striving to make a name for himself.
Elsie and Carroll used to meet quite often after that party, as they held each other in mutual esteem. Well, now here’s a secret. Even his best friends will admit that Carroll has a “queer” voice. Those melodious deep tones, so very “Southern” are a characteristic. His announcements are fun, but you can’t imagine him as a singer, can you!
Yet it is a fact that Carroll and Elsie not only made gramophone records together, but on at least one of them Carroll sang part of the vocals! Yes, that vocalist is a fine pianist!
Graves later ends his article by teasing
But if you want to hear Elsie in another vocal team, just try to get one of the old copies of a certain Zono record! If you’re lucky, you’ll hear a then unknown singer, a Miss Carlisle, singing with a certain Mr. Gibbons, a new pianist, trying to make a name for himself as a Bing Crosby!
Graves’s article overstates quite a few things, among them the idea that Carroll Gibbons had a very notable vocal part on Zonophone 2815 (his piano playing is audible throughout, of course), but it is still a treat to hear Gibbons’s faint antiphony in “Ya Gotta Know How to Love” and in the song on the reverse side of the record, “My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today.”
“Ya Gotta Know How to Love” is a Harry Warren tune that is infectious in spite of, or perhaps because of, the simplicity of Bud Green’s lyrics. It does not develop its theme much past the idea contained in the title of the song, namely that in a love relationship, a certain savoir faire is required (with the additional warning that one’s “baby” will be inclined to want expensive things). Elsie Carlisle adopts the persona that she has in many of her early recordings, that of the fetching, frenetic flapper.
“Ya Gotta Know How to Love” was recorded in America in 1926 by Sam Lanin and His Orchestra (as Chick Nelson’s Collegians) with Arthur Fields as vocalist, Irving Aaronson and His Commanders (with vocals by Harold Saliers), Esther Walker, the California Ramblers (with Frank Harris, who may be Irving Kaufman going under a pseudonym), Fess Williams, the Varsity Eight, the Locust Sisters, Peggy English, and Betty Marvyn (unissued).
In Britain, in addition to Elsie Carlisle’s recording, there were versions of “Ya Gotta Know How to Love” by Bert Firman’s Cabaret Novelty Orchestra and by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra (with Jack Hylton providing the vocals).