“Cruising Down the River” – Russ Morgan and His Orchestra (1949)

Russ Morgan

I will admit that I had never hear of Russ Morgan, nor his orchestra, which may be neither here nor there.  I note however that Mr. Morgan topped the charts with  “Cruising Down the River”  from the week of March 12th to May 7th, 1949, and also had hits that same year with three other songs: “Forever and Ever,”  “So Tired,” and “Sunflower.” A very good year.

Who was Russ Morgan?

The short story is that he was a big band orchestra leader and musical arranger during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The AllMusic entry states that he was a major arranger and composer having done arrangements for John Phillip Sousa, and later for Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb, Louis Armstrong, the Boswell Sisters, and the Dorsey Brothers.

Likely his best know song is “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You,” which he wrote with Larry Stock and James Cavanaugh. Morgan was the first to record it.

Along the way he had a popular dance band, his own radio show,  even his own TV show in the 1950s. At one point he was the musical director at Brunswick Records.

The Wikipedia entry on Mr. Morgan notes that his “recording of Dogface Soldier, released to coincide with the film version of To Hell and Back, based on the best-selling novel by Audie Murphy, sold over 300,000 copies.”

Clearly a very accomplished and well-known performer in his own time and beyond, if not to me. In fact, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As for “Cruising Down the River,” it clearly stands as a good example of many of his songs, which have been described as “simple, coy, and often embarrassingly contrived, but radio audiences loved them.”

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