Al Dubin Articles

Al Dubin
Al Dubin

“The Show Is Over” (1934)

“The Show Is Over.” Words and music by Sam Coslow, Con Conrad, and Al Dubin (1934). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment on May 18, 1934. Decca F. 3990 mx. TB1259-2.

Elsie Carlisle – "The Show Is Over" (1934)

Elsie Carlisle – “The Show Is Over” (1934)

“The Show Is Over” is a “fox trot ballad” in which the singer expresses disappointment and a sense of disillusionment over a love relationship that has been dissolved. It relies on an extended theatrical metaphor: the singer has “played the part of the fool in the play” by being taken in by her former partner, who was “just acting a part in the play” when he pretended to be in love. Realizing that their relationship has been more like acting than real life and that in reality her lover is in love with someone else, the singer suggests that the two put away any pretense of being friends, concluding that “the show is over.”

The song had three songwriters, but I detect most in it the sensibility of Sam Coslow. Elsie Carlisle recorded four songs in 1934 for which Coslow had written words, music, or both, the others being “This Little Piggie Went to Market,” “A Place in Your Heart,” and “My Old Flame.” All are excellent songs, in spite of the fact that they take the risk of being saccharine, sentimental, or overly serious. All four songs, therefore, benefit from Elsie Carlisle’s skills as an actress; even while singing that “the show is over,” she impersonates perfectly the disillusioned lover and lends sincerity to what could otherwise be a somewhat artificial role.

“The Show Is Over” was also recorded in 1934 by the BBC Dance Orchestra (directed by Henry Hall, with songwriter Sam Coslow on the vocals), Harry Roy and His Orchestra (with vocals by Ivor Moreton), Roy Fox and His Band (with singer Peggy Dell), Alex Freer and His Band, Billy Cotton and His Band (with vocal refrain by Alan Breeze and Harold “Chips” Chippendall), Ray Noble and His Orchestra (with Al Bowlly), Jay Wilbur and His Band (with vocalist Leslie Douglas), the Casani Club Orchestra (under the direction of Charlie Kunz, with singer Harry Bentley), Ambrose and His Orchestra (with Sam Browne), Bertini and His Band (with Leslie Douglas), and Larry Brennan and the Winter Gardens Dance Band (with Ken Beaumont singing “The Show Is Over” as part of a medley).

“So Is Your Old Lady” (1926)

“So Is Your Old Lady.” Words by Al Dubin, music by Joe Burke (1926). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with piano accompaniment by Carroll Gibbons on May 25, 1926. Zonophone 2757.

So is your old Lady, Elsie Carlisle, 1926

“So Is Your Old Lady” – Elsie Carlisle (1926)

Transfer by Clive Hooley (YouTube)

“So’s your old man!” is a somewhat dated rejoinder to an insult, a suggestion that one’s interlocutor can take what he has said and apply it to his own father. One still hears the term “old lady” used to refer to a man’s wife or girlfriend. In this playful 1926 song, lyricist Al Dubin combines the two expressions in an exchange between a wife and a husband, the latter of whom has been philandering a little too obviously. The wife tells him to do as he likes, but to remember that while he is pursuing his affairs, “so is [his] old lady” — a threat of reciprocal infidelity. At her first recording session in 1926, Elsie Carlisle handled the quick patter and formulaic repetition in the lyrics deftly, bringing something both cute and slightly titillating to the taunting threats of the wife. Carroll Gibbons’s piano playing complements Elsie’s quick, crisp delivery quite nicely. This recording was also released on the Ariel label (issues 940 and 1006) but attributed to Maisie Ramsey — Elsie’s first known pseudonym!

Other versions of “So Is Your Old Lady” were done in 1926 in America by the Original Indiana Five, Ruth Etting,  and Warner’s Seven Aces. In Britain the song was recorded by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra, Teddy Brown and His Café de Paris Band (with vocalist Lionel Rothery), Bert Firman (the take was rejected), Hilda Glyder, Victor Sterling and His Band (directed by Nat Star), and the Edison Bell Dance Orchestra (with vocals by Tom Barratt).

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