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“Honey-Coloured Moon” (1935)

“Honey-Coloured Moon.”  Words by Desmond Carter, music by Mabel Wayne. Composed for the British film Music Hath Charms (1935). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment on November 29, 1935. Decca F. 5818 mx. GB7527-1.

Elsie Carlisle – “Honey-Coloured Moon” (1935)

“Honey-Coloured Moon” was introduced in the 1935 British film Music Hath Charms. This movie appears to have consisted primarily of vignettes loosely held together by the fact that the various characters all listen to the BBC Dance Orchestra. In one scene, a woman in a parlor room begins to sing “Honey-Coloured Moon,” but the action suddenly changes to a broadcast studio, where Henry Hall is directing his orchestra and American cabaret singer Hildegarde is doing the singing. There is a quick transition to a cruise ship as the band plays on, followed by a courtroom scene, where the judge, lawyers, and jury all seem to be taking a break from serious matters by listening to Hildegarde on the radio. When two people apparently opposed to one another in the lawsuit begin to spoon, the case is dismissed.

The words of “Honey-Coloured Moon” convey a recollection of the beginning of a romantic relationship with its attendant circumstances: sea and moonlight. Elsie Carlisle brings to this song a mellifluous vocal sweetness to match its entrancing lyrics. It is worth comparing this recording to other Mabel Wayne songs that Elsie recorded in 1934-1935 (“Little Man, You’ve Had a Busy Day”; “Who Made Little Boy Blue”; “His Majesty the Baby”). There is a similar sentimentality in all of these Wayne compositions that almost requires Elsie’s vocal style, insofar as she can deliver the tone of sincerity that makes listeners withhold judgment. With “Honey-Coloured Moon,” it is vital that the audience get honey and not treacle, and Elsie  delivers.

Other versions of “Honey-Coloured Moon” were recorded in Britain in 1935 by the BBC Dance Orchestra (under the musical direction of Henry Hall, with vocals by Hildegarde, in a Ben Frankel arrangement), Maurice Winnick and His Orchestra (with vocals by Sam Costa), Jay Wilbur and His Band (vocalist Gerry Fitzgerald), the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra (directed by Carroll Gibbons, with vocalist Brian Lawrance), Tommy Kinsman and His Band, Lou Preager and His Romano’s Restaurant Dance Orchestra (with singer Ronnie Hill), and Billy Cotton and His Band (with vocals by Alan Breeze).

One thought on ““Honey-Coloured Moon” (1935)”

  1. Delighted to find this superb website. I’ve been a fan of Elsie’s since I heard her excellent version of “I Love My Baby, My Baby Loves Me” about 10 years ago, as well as “My Kid’s A Crooner” and “What A Surprise For The Duce.” I stumbled upon your brilliant work today after listening to Hildegarde singing Anna Sosenko’s “Let’s Try Again” at archive.org. I’m here because I thought she sounded a lot like Elsie in this song and went searching to see if Ms. Carlisle ever recorded it. Afterward, I left this comment about it at the Internet Archive [ https://archive.org/details/78_lets-try-again-clive-rochardson-at-the-piano-hildegarde-anna ]:

    Reviewer: KIVLIN – June 2, 2023
    Subject: “Richardson” correction and Elsie Carlisle comment

    The pianist’s last name is Richardson, not Rochardson.

    Hildy’s voice sounds a lot like Elsie Carlisle’s here, Britain’s “idol of the radio.” It’s no coincidence, perhaps, since both women sang the same song in the same film in 1935: “Honey-Coloured Moon” in Music Hath Charms. Both are angelic and Carlisle has inspired an outstanding website, hosted by Alexandros Kozak, at https://www.elsiecarlisle.com/

    For anyone interested in British popular music before the Beatles, the website is a must.

    And now, I’m eagerly anticipating all the great stuff I’m going to find here thanks to you. Merci Beaucoup!

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"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.