Recently someone asked if I could suggest an example of a “typical Soundie.” I was forced to admit that there was just too much variety among them to make any one Soundie “typical.” But then I had to backtrack a little because there are dozens of Soundies – make that hundreds – that follow a simple formula: a song, usually not a major standard, performed by a lesser-known vocalist, accompanied by an orchestra on soundtrack and appropriate action framing the story on screen.
“That’s the Moon, My Son” is a rather strong pop song by Art Kassel, Sammy Gallop and Norman Lipman. It was introduced by the Andrews Sisters in 1942 and is a minor key love song reminiscent of the trio’s earlier hit “Bei Meir Bist Du Schon.”
The vocalist on our Soundie is Nita Norman. While she is almost unknown today, Ms. Norman was on the entertainment scene for many years. Her earliest professional appearances seem to have been in Pennsylvania, singing first with Jack Marshard’s orchestra and then moving on to Herman Middleman’s band at the Nixon Café in downtown Pittsburgh. In 1938 she then joined Lou Breese and His Orchestra, a fine second tier dance band and a step up for Norman. She worked in Manhattan during the early 1940s, including a “Fun for Your Money” unit at the Latin Quarter. She was seen on local television in Cleveland during the early 1950s, then seems to have moved on from the entertainment business.
Ms. Norman aside, the rest of the visual elements in the Soundie are not surprising, although inexpensively creative. A drunk – they are always the happy, goofy drunks in Soundies, never the mean ones – sees a number of showgirls in the face of the moon, and we are treated to brief dance with Nita and an unidentified male, plus a contribution from a male vocal trio.
This Soundie is clearly not in the same class as many we have shared, but I find it to be a very charming three minutes of music. Not bad at all for being “typical.”