I Feel a Song Coming On: The Life of Jimmy McHugh

This first biography of Jimmy McHugh captures a lively and significant contributor to American songwriting. Creator of favorite tunes such as “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” McHugh was a one-man history of twentieth-century popular music: in his prolific composing career, he wrote songs for Duke Ellington, Shirley Temple, Bobby Breen, Carmen Miranda, Deanna Durbin, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Waters, Adelaide Hall, and scores of other entertainers, and his last works were turned into smash hits by Pat Boone and Fats Domino.

Following McHugh from humble Irish-American beginnings in Boston to eventual success in New York, Europe, and Los Angeles, Alyn Shipton deftly evokes the lively milieus of Tin Pan Alley, the Cotton Club, Broadway, and Hollywood. McHugh crossed the color line frequently, writing revues for both black and white entertainers, and he and his songwriting partner Dorothy Fields were also among the first to create Hollywood musical films. In the 1940s, he waged heroic fundraising efforts for the war effort and the crusade against polio. He continued to write songs for shows, movies, and revues and managed up-and-coming singers late in his life.

“From Tin Pan Alley to Beverly Hills, this book has vintage dish and vibrant back-stories about one of the giants of the American songbook.”–David Friend, editor of creative development, Vanity FairĀ 

“It’s a great joy to read and learn about the life of marvelous Jimmy McHugh. This book is meticulously researched and spills over with fascinating and important information about a rich and seminal era, much of which has not been previously documented. If you care about the Great American Songbook, you’ll love this book!”–Michael Feinstein

“A treasure trove of material on Jimmy McHugh and an important contribution to the scholarship on American popular song. Alyn Shipton’s book is a well documented portrait of a songwriter very much at the center of the music business, Broadway theater, and Hollywood.”–Philip Furia, coauthor of The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America’s Great Lyricists

“This valuable work includes numerous insights into the slightly mysterious process of pop song-writing and the music business in general. It will appeal to Tin Pan Alley music aficionados, American studies specialists, Hollywood historians, and music fans in general.”–Thomas L. Riis, author of Frank Loesser