“Why Stars Come Out at Night.” Composed by Ray Noble for the Paramount film The Big Broadcast of 1936. Recorded in London on July 20, 1935 by Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans with vocalist Anne Lenner. Columbia FB-1090 mx. CA-15168-1.
Personnel: Carroll Gibbons-p dir. Bill Shakespeare-Billy Higgs-t / Arthur Fenoulhet-t-tb / Paul Fenhoulhet-tb / Sam Acres-tb / George Melachrino-cl-as-vn / Laurie Payne-cl-as-bar / George Smith-cl-ts / Eugene Pini-vn / Ian Stewart-2nd p / Bert Thomas-g / Jack Evetts-sb / Max Abrams-d / Anne Lenner-v
Many twentieth-century popular tunes come from the movies. But in some cases, it can be difficult to detect a song that we know from records in the film in which it supposedly originates. Such is the case with “Why Stars Come Out at Night.” Ray Noble, who had relocated from Britain to America in 1934, composed four songs for The Big Broadcast of 1936 (which was actually released in 1935), and “Why Stars Come Out at Night” was filmed with Al Bowlly doing the vocals. Unfortunately, this sequence ended up on the cutting room floor along with a number of other musical sequences. 1 Noble appears in the movie directing music on a “televisor” (an early television) that some of the characters watch. I can hear two short musical references — just a handful of notes each time — to “Why Stars Come Out at Night” in the final product.
The tune’s near-exclusion from the film says nothing about its quality, as can be determined by charming renditions outside of celluloid on both sides of the Atlantic. The Savoy Hotel Orpheans’ version of the song is particularly representative of the orchestra’s incredible elegance. Anne Lenner’s vocal refrain could best be described as luscious. There is a delightful interplay between her elevated diction and a certain languid quality in her delivery. As she interprets the song’s lyrical conceit, namely that the actions of nature itself are motivated by the loveliness of the song’s addressee, she seems to savor each syllable as she utters it. “Why Stars Come Out At Night” was recorded very early in Lenner’s period of collaboration (1934-1942) with Savoy Orpheans bandleader Carroll Gibbons, but one has the sense that they had already established a recipe for success.
Notable American recordings of “When Stars Come Out at Night” were made by Ray Noble and His Orchestra (v. Al Bowlly), Bill Staffon and His Orchestra (v. Bill Staffon), and Joe Haymes and His Orchestra (v. Ed Kirkeby).
Other British artists who recorded the song included The New Mayfair Dance Orchestra (dir. Carroll Gibbons; an instrumental treatment in a medley), Lew Stone and His Band (v. Joy Worth), Pat O’Malley (with Fred Hartley’s Orchestra), Jack Payne and His Band (v. Billy Scott-Coomber), Jay Wilbur and His Band (v. Pat O’Malley), and Victor Silvester and His Ballroom Orchestra (instrumental).
- Pallet, Ray. They Called Him Al: The Musical Life of Al Bowlly. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2015, loc. 1808 of 9059, Kindle. ↩