Michael Carr Articles

“The Gentleman Obviously Doesn’t Believe” (1935)

“The Gentleman Obviously Doesn’t Believe.” Words and Music by Michael Carr and Eddie Pola. Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment on May 28, 1935. Decca F. 5568 mx. GB7167-1.

Elsie Carlisle – “The Gentleman Obviously Doesn’t Believe” (1935)

“The Gentleman Obviously Doesn’t Believe” is a catalogue of traits that a certain attractive, anonymous man lacks: he has no fondness for drinking, smoking, dancing, modern popular music, or, most importantly, romance. Through her complaint about the man’s various deficits, the singer reveals herself to be passionate about all of life’s pleasures, and she encourages her audience to identify with her position (“like me…and you…and you”). We are given the impression of a woman inexplicably drawn to her opposite. Elsie Carlisle brings to this recording a sweet sincerity that convincingly conveys both wonder for and enchantment with the attractively puzzling “gentleman.”

“The Gentleman Obviously Doesn’t Believe” had been recorded the previous month by Lew Stone and His Band, with vocals by Lew Stone himself. Later in 1935 there were American versions by Joe Haymes and His Orchestra (with vocalist Clifford Wetterau) and by the Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra (with Kay Weber, who sings the introduction, whereas Elsie had merely recited it).

“The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” (1937)

“The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot.” Composed by Michael Carr, Tommy Connor, and Jimmy Leach. Recorded by Jack Harris and His Orchestra, with Elsie Carlisle as vocalist, on November 1, 1937. HMV BD-5290 mx. OEA 5120-1.

Personnel: Jack Harris-vn dir. Alfie Noakes-Doug Holman-t / Lewis Davis-Don Binney-tb / Harry Karr-cl-as-f / Freddy Williams-Harry Smith-reeds / George Glover-bar / Max Jaffa-Bill Sniderman-vn / Bert Read-Jack Penn-p / Cyril Halliday-Joe Brannelly-g / Alf Gray-d

Jack Harris & His Orchestra w. Elsie Carlisle – “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” (1937)

“The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot”  is a secular Christmas song concerning a boy who receives no visit from Santa Claus and therefore gets no Christmas gifts. He feels out of place when he considers the treasured argosies awaiting other children. The song reveals that the boy is fatherless, and suddenly we see things from an adult perspective: since we know that it is parents who play the role of the mythical jolly gift-giver, the lack of a father could mean missing out on a common seasonal joy.  In the end, the song changes its focus from a fictional character to the absent father who would normally impersonate him, and the boy’s unfortunate situation is revealed to be year-round, not seasonal.  Jack Harris’s band lends a rich tone to this sad composition, and although the song’s lyrics have the potential to be cloying, Elsie Carlisle’s singing emphasizes their more poignant aspects.

“The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” has been recorded countless times since its composition in 1937. Vera Lynn’s version of it, recorded with Ambrose and His Orchestra six days before Elsie Carlisle did hers with Jack Harris, notably appears in the opening sequence of Pink Floyd’s 1982 movie The Wall, the relevance of its inclusion being that the father of Pink Floyd band member and screenwriter Roger Waters (and that of the fictional character that he based on himself) was killed fighting in the Second World War when Waters was only an infant.

On the same day that Jack Harris recorded “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot” with Elsie Carlisle, Billy Cotton did a version with Alan Breeze as his vocalist; it features a speech by a small child.  Soon afterwards there were recordings by Phyllis Robins and Arthur Tracy. An early American version was recorded by Jimmy Ray and the Southern Serenaders.

“Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful!” (1934)

“Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful!” Words by Michael Carr, music by Max and Harry Nesbit (1934). Recorded by Sam Browne and “Girl Friend” (i.e. Elsie Carlisle), accompanied on the piano by Eddie Carroll and Bobbie McGhee, in London on March 2, 1934. Regal Zonophone MR-1254 CAR-2593-1.

Sam Browne & Elsie Carlisle – “Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful!” (1934)

“Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful!” was a collaboration between composer Michael Carr, who wrote other songs that Elsie Carlisle recorded, including “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” and “You’re in My Arms,” and the music hall comedian brothers Max and Harry Nesbit. In this 1934 Regal Zonophone recording, the song is a duet between “Sam Browne & Girl Friend.” The identification of “Girl Friend” as Elsie Carlisle is universally accepted on the strength of aural evidence, and the pair performs “What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander” on the other side of the record.

The scenario laid out in the lyrics of “Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful!” is a light and simple one: a bachelor and a single woman are out walking when their sudden attraction to one another coincides with a rainy downpour. No sooner has the chivalrous man shared his umbrella with the woman than…they are married with a house and baby — a quick and amusing transition. A comparable use of weather to bring potential lovers together can be found in the following year’s “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)?” sung by Fred Astaire in the Irving Berlin musical film Top Hat.

“Gee, Oh Gosh, I’m Grateful” was recorded soon afterwards by Ambrose and His Orchestra (v. Sam Browne) and by Roy Fox and His Band, with Denny Dennis as vocalist.

“You’re in My Arms” (1941)

“You’re in My Arms.” Words by Jack Popplewell, music by Michael Carr (1941). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle on December 19, 1941. Rex 10092 mx. R6581-2.

“You’re in My Arms” – Elsie Carlisle (1941)

“You’re in My Arms (and a Million Miles Away)” is a beguine from the 1941 musical “Get a Load of This,” written by playwright and lyricist Jack Popplewell and composer Michael Carr.  The song was introduced by 17-year-old Celia Lipton (daughter of bandleader Sidney Lipton) and saw treatments in 1941 by Jay Wilbur and His Band (with vocalist Pat O’Regan), Ambrose and His Orchestra (with Anne Shelton), Joe Loss and His Band (Chick Henderson, vocalist), Harry Roy and His Band (with Marjorie Kingsley – though Regal Zonophone rejected the take), and Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orpheans (with Anne Lenner).  Vera Lynn was to record a version the next year.


"You're in My Arms" sheet music featuring Celia Lipton
“You’re in My Arms” sheet music featuring Celia Lipton

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