“You’ve Got Me Crying Again.” Words by Charles Newman, music by Isham Jones (1933). Recorded by Ambrose and His Orchestra with vocal refrain by Elsie Carlisle in London on May 5, 1933. Brunswick 01523, Grammophon 25232.
Transfer by Enrico Borsetti (YouTube)
“You’ve Got Me Crying Again” is a particularly good torch song, or “plaintive onion-ballad of the better type,”1 if you prefer. It is an example of a genre that Elsie Carlisle had mastered (compare her renditions of “Mean to Me,” “Body and Soul,” “He’s My Secret Passion,” “Poor Kid,” and “Have You Ever Been Lonely”), and she handles this Isham Jones piece with dramatic dexterity, combining pathos with utter cuteness. The lyrics are the words of a person frustrated by the vicissitudes of a love relationship, but the complaints are really rather generic, and so it is impressive that Elsie is able, in the 45 seconds allotted to her, to impart character to what is fundamentally just a snippet of a speech. She outdoes herself in this recording, but she is matched by the mesmerizing instrumentals of an arrangement outstanding even by the high standards one expects of Ambrose.
Elsie Carlisle would go on to perform “You’ve Got Me Crying Again” again in the film Radio Parade (1933), where she is accompanied by a number of Ambrose’s instrumentalists.2 That performance gives one a sense of Elsie’s acting abilities; she was, after all, a lauded stage performer admired by Cole Porter, no less. The song would make another 1933 film appearance in a performance by Ruth Etting in the short Knee Deep in Music. But perhaps more recent audiences will be familiar with Elsie’s Ambrose version of “You’ve Got Me Crying Again” from its inclusion in Dennis Potter’s 1978 television series Pennies From Heaven, where it is mimed by actress Cheryl Campbell in lieu of Psalm 35!
In America, “You’ve Got Me Crying Again” was first recorded on February 9, 1933 by Bing Crosby. On Valentine’s Day it was recorded by its composer, Isham Jones, with vocals by Joe Martin, and by Adrian Rollini and His Orchestra (as The Rhythm Aces), with Dick Robertson as vocalist. That spring versions were issued by the Dorsey Brothers and Their Orchestra (Lee Wiley, vocalist), Ruth Etting, and Judy Rogers.
The same year saw British recordings by the BBC Dance Orchestra (in an arrangement by director Henry Hall, with vocals by Les Allen), Harry Roy and His Orchestra (Ivor Moreton, vocalist), Scott Wood and His Orchestra (with Sam Browne), Jack Hylton and His Orchestra (with vocals by Pat O’Malley, in a Peter Yorke arrangement), Syd Lipton and His Grosvenor House Band (as Ben Fields and His Band, with singer Cyril Grantham), The Blue Mountaineers (with vocals by Sam Browne and Nat Gonella), and Ray Noble and His Orchestra, in a Daily Herald Contest Record medley.