Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jimmy McHugh - American Songwriter

I wasn't familiar with Jimmy McHugh until I came upon this article. I certainly was familiar with some of his songs, as you will be. Jimmy's father was a plumber, but I wonder if the Tom McHugh mentioned below was an uncle [a comment from a helpful poster made me reread the article: a brother, Tom, is mentioned below as a JP businessman. No doubt the same Tom as owned the Grille]. If I've got my locations correct, Tom McHugh's Grille was still open under another name as a tavern into the 1980s.

Jimmy McHugh wrote for Broadway shows, and moved on to Hollywood to write for the movies. He sometimes wrote his own lyrics, but some of his most memorable work came from his collaboration with lyricist Dorothy Fields. From the Twenties to the Fifties, he was one of the biggest names in American songwriting, but seems to have become a forgotten figure today. The best of his songs remain as classics of their time.

Jamaica Plain Citizen May 16, 1940

Famed Song Writer To Be Tendered "Night" Tomorrow

Jimmy McHugh Nations' Top Song Writer Born in J.P.

"Jimmy McHugh Night" will be observed tomorrow evening (Friday, May 17) at Tom McHugh's Grille, 207 Green street, Jamaica Plain.

An active and enthusiastic committee has made extensive arrangements for the biggest celebration ever extended to a Jamaica Plain boy who has made good. McHugh, who was born at 64 School street, now comes home from Hollywood to his many friends here, where he has two current hits playing. It is the first time in the history of Boston that one writer has been responsible for writing two musicals, both of which are being played on the same street and in the theatres opposite one another.

Jimmy McHugh

Jimmy wrote the score in Jack Benny's picture which played at the Metropolitan all week. And he is also the writer of the sensational score of the musical show "Keep Off The Grass," now playing at the Shubert Theatre, Boston.

Jimmy will be present tomorrow evening to welcome all his old friends, as well as the new ones. He will also autograph pictures, for those who wish. In addition to his brother Thomas, a Jamaica Plain businessman, another brother, Representative Lawrence P. McHugh, will be present to assist in making the affair a big success.

Top Song Writer

From a plumber's helper to one of the nation's top song writers is a long climb on the ladder of success. That's what McHugh accomplished. His first big hit was "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby," which he wrote with Dorothy Fields for the "Blackbirds of 1928." Then came the "Sunny Side of the Street," which Gertrude Lawrence sang in The International Review. There was the film song "Go Home and Tell Your Mother" in 1931; "Cuban Love Song" in 1932; "My Dancing Lady" in 1932 and "Dancing at Eight."

For more on Jimmy McHugh, go here.


  1. Yes, Tommy and Jimmy McHugh were related. My father was a song writer, and knew Tommy in the 1940s and '50s. (We lived in JP.) I had thought T & J were brothers, but I'm not certain.

  2. Sharon

    Thanks for your comment. I looked back at the article, and it says "his brother Tom, a Jamaica Plain businessman." It would have been clearer if they just said that the time was held at his brother's Grille. The article I linked to mentions a brother and sister in show business.