Shine On Harvest Moon

Shine On Harvest Moon is another popular song from the early 1900s.  This is a favorite when I go to the nursing home to sing.

Shine On, O Harvest Moon
Shine On, O Harvest Moon

The song is credited to Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, a married Vaudeville team.   This was another song that was among the moon-related songs of the Tin Pan Alley era, along with By the Light of the Silvery Moon.

The song was premiered by Bayes and Norworth in the 1908 Ziegfield Follies to much acclaim.

The earliest recording was made in 1909 by several Vaudeville groups.

There is some question if Bayes and Norworth were the original songwriter.  During the Vaudeville Era, the purchaser was usually credited as the songwriter.  Many believe that Bayes pianist from 1903-1908, Dave Stamper, was the original songwriter.  He contributed over 21 songs to the Ziegfield Follies during this time.

Who’s Who In Musicals, written by John Kenrick, credits Edward Madden and Gus Edwards as the creators of the song.  {Madden and Edwards wrote By the Light of the Silvery Moon}.

Shine On
Shine On

In his 1934 book Ziegfield—The Great Glorifier, Vaudeville comic and author Eddie Cantor, credited Dave Stamper with writing the song.  David Ewen also credited Stamper as the author in his book, All the Years of American Popular Music.

Stamper reportedly never learned to read or write traditional musical notation, which is one reason for the discrepancy.  He would not have a copy of the song in his writing to submit as proof for copyright.

We may never know for sure who wrote this timeless song, but the evidence seems to lean towards Dave Stamper.  Stamper wrote over one thousand songs and was a charter member of ASCAP.  He worked for Ziegfield shows for over two decades, along with other Broadway shows, before transitioning to Hollywood movies.

A 1938 Roy Rogers western was named after the song.  In 1944, Shine On Harvest Moon, a biographical film about Bayes and Norworth was released.

The song has been featured in dozens of movies, including Along Came Ruth (1933) and The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Laurel and Hardy performed a song-and-dance routine (Hardy singing and both dancing) to the song in their 1939 RKO film The Flying Deuces. The song was also featured in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), The Eddy Duchin Story (1956), and Pennies from Heaven (1978). There was also a popular British 1980s comedy drama called Shine on Harvey Moon. The song was featured in the 2013 video game BioShock Infinite. It was referenced by Don Rickles in the 1971 Friars Club roast of Jerry Lewis when he said, “Just hope and pray, Shine on Harvest Moon they know.”

The song became a pop standard in 1908 and continues to be performed today.  Performers such as Kate Smith, Rosemary Clooney, The Platters, and Brittney Spears are among those that have recorded the song.


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