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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care (1952 Soundie, Lyrics, Comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a 1952 soundie (short film) of The Ink Spots' hit song "If I Didn't Care". Information about the Ink Spots is included in this post along with information about the song "If I Didn't Care", that song's lyrics, and selected comments from the discussion thread of that YouTube "video".

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to Jack Lawrence, the composer of this song and thanks to The Ink Spots for their musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publisher of this soundie on YouTube.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE INK SPOTS
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ink_Spots
"The Ink Spots were an African-American vocal group who gained international fame in the 1930s and 1940s. Their unique musical style led to the rhythm and blues and rock and roll musical genres, and the subgenre doo-wop. The Ink Spots were widely accepted in both the white and black communities, largely due to the ballad style introduced to the group by lead singer Bill Kenny.

In 1989, the Ink Spots (Bill Kenny, Deek Watson, Charlie Fuqua and Hoppy Jones) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1999 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Since the Ink Spots disbanded in 1954, there have been well over 100 vocal groups calling themselves "The Ink Spots" without any right to the name, and without any original members of the group. These groups often have claimed to be "2nd generation" or "3rd generation" Ink Spots....

In 1936, Jerry Daniels was replaced by a young singer from Baltimore named Bill Kenny. Kenny signed with the Ink Spots after winning 1st place in an amateur contest at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Three years later Kenny would be credited for bringing the group to global success with his unusual high tenor ballad singing.[citation needed]

In 1938, after being in the group for two years, Bill Kenny started to introduce the group to a new format that he called "Top & Bottom". This format was used primarily for ballads rather than the uptempo "jive" songs the group was used to performing. This format called for the tenor (Bill Kenny or Deek Watson) to sing the lead for one chorus followed by a chorus performed by Bass singer Hoppy Jones where he would recite the lyrics rather than sing them. After a chorus of the "talking bass" the lead tenor would carry out the rest of the song until the end. The earliest example of their "Top & Bottom" format is from a radio broadcast from 1938. The song entitled "Tune In on My Heart" features Bill Kenny taking the lead and Hoppy Jones performing the talking bass.[5]"...

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE SONG "IF I DIDN'T CARE"
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Didn%27t_Care
"If I Didn't Care" is a song written by Jack Lawrence that was originally sung and recorded by The Ink Spots featuring Bill Kenny in 1939. The Ink Spots recording became the 6th best selling single of all time with over 19 million copies sold making it one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide....

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: The Ink Spots Singing "If I Didn't Care"



Schrooms73, Uploaded on Jul 7, 2008

Here are the Lyrics:
If I didn't care more than words can say
If I didn't care would I feel this way?
If this isn't love then why do I thrill?
And what makes my head go 'round and 'round
While my heart stands still?

If I didn't care would it be the same?
Would my ev'ry prayer begin and end with just your name?
And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare?
Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?

MONOLOGUE: If I didn't care honey child, mo' than words can say. If I didn't
care baby, would I feel this way? Darlin' if this isn't love, then why do I thrill so
much? What is it that makes my head go 'round and 'round while my heart just stands
still so much ?

If I didn't care would it be the same?
Would my ev'ry prayer begin and end with just your name?
And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare?
Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?

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SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THIS SOUNDIE'S DISCUSSION THREAD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvwfLe6sLis
These selected comments focus on The Ink Spots musical groups, the the song "If I Didn't Care", the 1952 soundie, and the historical conditions for Black musical recording groups such as The Ink Spots.

A number of commenters in that discussion thread wrote that they became acquainted with The Ink Spots' "If I Didn't Care" from its inclusion in video games Bioshock and Fallout, the movies "Shawshank Redemption" and "Autobiography Of Malcolm X", the television show "Sanford And Son", and more. While I found those comments interesting, I've chosen not to include any of those comments in this post, unless there is other content that fits the focus of these excerpts.

These comments are given in relative order based on their posting date with the oldest comments given first, except for replies and except for comments regarding the same subject. However, these comments may not be in consecutive order. I've assigned numbers to these comments for referencing purposes only.

2011
1. jaydiddley
"great song, great group. i love how almost every Ink Spots song starts with the same intro."

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2. Thehamez, 2013
"Not knocking them. Just saying most of their songs start with the exact same riff and have the same melody and just different words."

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3. Montana Lease, 2013
in reply to Thehamez
"@Thehamez it was real original music. people in the 1930's were amazed by it even if it was as simple as changing the lyrics. personally i think its amazing still and better than anything being made today. but some things today are still a stop and look subject. just not as good as these guys. but your right, they do have the same tune to them lol. but they made it work every time."

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4. Nick Fisher, 2015
"Did these guys use the same opening for every song?"

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5. Him Andathousandjews, 2015
"Yeah, it was their signature riff."

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6. mattjh192
"The Ink spots were formed approx 1935 and there is still an imitation group going today, Bill Kenny died in 1978, the spots have certainly grown on me, wasnt to keen to begin with!"

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7. Sheldon Lawrence
"what film is thisi from?"

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8. WytZox1
in reply to Sheldon Lawrence
"@sheldonlt - Those Soundies were the original music videos long before MTV, shown in movie theaters as short subjects.☺"

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9. Schrooms73
in reply to Sheldon Lawrence
"@sheldonlt Soundies were an early version of the music video: three-minute musical films, produced in New York, Chicago, and Hollywood between 1940 and 1946, often including short dance sequences. (The completed Soundies were generally released within a few months of their filming; the last group was released in March, 1947.) The films were displayed on the Panoram, a coin-operated film jukebox or machine music, in nightclubs, bars, restaurants, factory lounges, and amusement centers."

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10. Austin Casey, [2012], in reply to a comment about lip synching in the soundie]
"Yes indeed. Infact thats pretty much all they did back then. Vitaphone was live but was mostly used in the 20s. These "Soundies" from 40s-50s were lip synced. Same with these Mills Bros vids in the related videos section. They didn't quite have the sophistication back then to make both a great video and live recording with a full orchestra. There would have been a bunch of mics and cords all over the place. If you go to my channel you can see more Ink Spots videos both live and lip synced"

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11. Austin Casey, 2014
"They actually were lip synching in this video as well as the four other "soundies" they filmed in 1952. There is nothing wrong with lip synching for a music video though (it was common place back then). The only genuine live video of them are the scenes they did in the 1941 movie "The Great American Broadcast" and the live footage of them at the Café Zanzibar in 1946 which can be found on my YT channel."

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12. TheOriginalJarvees, 2012
"This would have been in a drive in or cinema (movie theatre)
between news reels and the movies themselves.
However I couldn't tell you where this clip came from. Either way, glad it's here.
Video games are good for something. Fallout 3 led me to the Spots honestly"

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13. Kevin Price, 2013
"I love the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers, was this from a movie?"

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14. Austin Casey, 2013
in reply to Kevin Price
"It's from a series of "Soundies" as they called music videos back in the day. The other ones Bill Kenny & The Ink Spots filmed on the same day were : It Is No Secret, The Gypsy, You May Be The Sweetheart Of Somebody Else and I'm Heading Back To Paradise. They lip synced all of these... but they pulled it off damn well. I wish there was more live footage of them available."

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15. bobbilse, 2012
"A bit of trivia: There is actually only one original Ink Spot in this video, Charlie Fuqua (on the right), though their career really took off when lead vocalist Bill Kenny replaced Charlie Daniels. The chubby fellow, Billy "Butterball" Bowen replaced Ivory "Deek" Watson, and the narrator/bass was Adriel McDonald, the 4th one in that spot. The original was Orville "Hoppy" Jones. Kenny was the last living member from the original hit recording of this, dying in '78 (Daniels died in '95)."

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16. alex eason
"The Inkspots made many appearances in Vancouver at the Cave Supper Club back in the 1950's....Bill Kenny made Vancouver his home and died here in 1978....This song "if I didn't Care" only made it to number 2 on the charts but sold a heck of a lot of records.... Even their "I don't want to set the world on Fire" only made it number 4 on the charts...But I love them both.... Beautiful"

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17. Ian Knau
"Not to sound racist, but wow that must have been risky having two black guys staring at a white girls behind back in the 40s 50s like that. O.O"

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18. ohsnapitsme59
in reply to Ian Knau
"@halfdude Doesn't sound racist because you are correct in that sentiment. That would never happen back then. BUT those women are not white. They are light-skinned black women."

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19. SyberkaPL [This comment refers to a glitch in this copy of the soundie]
"2:13
A scratch when Charlie Fuqua puts this something. What a coincidence (i know that this kind of soundie is originally silent then added audio to it)."

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20. Ginger Vela
"Beautifully sung. A forerunner of our 50's doo wop with mr. Kenny's great falsetto. LMAO when the guy came back with the puppy instead of the girl. That was cute. These "soundies" seem to just now be making a comeback, and have been a well-kept secret for a long time. The Inkspots were great! Thanks for posting! "

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14. L Hiram Larry Adams
in reply to L Hiram Larry Adams
"Might ad he is not using a falcetto as many tenors had to do including me as my range was much less especially when singing an alto part or second soporano."

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2013
15. Wolf King
"can anybody tell me the genre of this type of music, i really like it"

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16. Austin Casey
in reply to Wolf King
"Vocal Group Harmony, R&B, Easy Listening, 1940's Pop. Back in the 40's The Ink Spots were considered a Pop group."

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17. L Hiram Larry Adams
"High C above High
You will note Bill does not side up and down to hit the notes.He is pure perfection that many of us singers would just love to be able to do and without staining to hit the notes and that my friends take strong breath control aka a strong diaphragm Next time you hear someone to our National Anthem see if they sing it as it was written without making their own improves and no grace notes where none was written,sung as written note for note e.
Larry Adams
Phoenix,AZ"

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18. Liam Oreilly
"I agree he's a superb Tenor....Sorry to disagree with Larry, but Bill Kenny is using a form of falsetto. In the middle 8 when the Bassist is talking the lyrics, he uses falsetto, then at 3:20 he slips between the two. 3:30 and the last note are all falsetto, not that that is in anyway being disrespectful, he uses a perfect technique...and its fantastic!"

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19. Austin Casey
in reply to Liam Oreilly
"I'm not sure. I've also read that he never sang in a falsetto and that the high notes were his natural voice. Infact it says that on the back of his 1966 album "Remember Me". But yeah like you said, that's not important. Bill Kenny was the greatest singer that ever lived... In my opinion. "

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20. Austin Casey
in reply to brandon9271 [who asked is this the same version of the song that is used in the video games]
"This version is from 1952 & the version in Bioshock, Fallout etc is the original version from 1939. Bill Kenny is still the lead singer on both though."

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21. bobbilse
"The personnel for this video is as follows: Bill Kenny, the lead voice, who sang the original hit version of this. The only other original Ink Spot is the small, darker fellow, Charlie Fuqua. The chubby fellow is Billy "Butterball" Bowen, who replaced Deek Watson in '44. The bass/narrator is Adriel McDonald, the 4th bass singer in the group's history (original was Hoppy Jones)."

Jimmy Holmes was a fabulous tenor, and was the lead voice in Fuqua's own Ink Spots group in the '50s. Great singer!

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22. bobbilse
in reply to Lolzub Troll
"Ivory "Deek" Watson is not in this video. This video was made in the early '50s, long after Watson had been forced out by Bill Kenny in 1944. Adriel McDonald, who joined in '51, replacing Kenny's twin brother, Herb, as bass/narrator. He is the "rapper" here."

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23. Mattdirk59
"Just got done listening to the Platters rendition of this. It's very good....BUT! This classic belongs to the Ink Spots hands down!! Loved it!"

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24. AviatikD1
"When the Ink Spots used to come to Seattle in the late 40s/early 50s, my grandmother used to put them up at her house on Beacon HIll at 1717 Angeline St. S. This was during the still segregated times, but my grandmother loved their music and never was one to care what the neighbors thought.."

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2014
25. James Wisdom
"Think - They weren't allowed to eat at or sleep at the places they just performed for, and that's within a century. Be skeptical of what society tells you is "the way it will always be."

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26. mrbgross
"Every time I think of what black artists went through when they were discriminated on it makes me ashamed of my ancestors! These fine gentlemen struggled through all of that and became well known throughout the years. Here's hoping that we don't allow those years to return."

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27. B Schwartz
"All four of the INK SPOTS, including lead singer Bill Kenney, were only paid $37.50 for the recording. When the record sold 200,000 copies, Decca Records ripped up the original contract and paid the group an additional $3,750. The recording went on to sell more than 19 million copies, but there is no record that the singers ever received any more than their original bonus."

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28. Rena Mckinney
..."before then he [Bill Kenny] worked with Redd Foxx at the Cotton club. My dad was a singing waiter, and Redd Foxx was a stand up comedian making 26 dollars a week. This was in the 40's and 50's or so"
-snip-
Note: Redd Foxx portrayed the character Fred G. Sanford in the American television show "Sanford And Son". "If I Didn't Care" was Sanford's favorite song and portions of that song were sung in some episodes of that Black American comedy/drama.

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29. Pamela Waiolena, 2015
"I've always loved the Ink Spots but I hope those who visit their music are aware of how racist our music industry was when they were here. After all, just their name reflects how we put racial identity above their gift of song!!"

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30. Juju Man
"I don't think this is the first version. Type in Ink Spots and watch the other video with the shorter heavy set lead singer."
-snip-
Here's what I think is the link to the video that JuJu Man referred to in his comment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAinKGJZ8YE

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32. Austin Casey
Reply
"That other video is not the original... that was recorded in 1955 and that video is of a spin off Ink Spots group called Charlie Fuqua's New Ink Spots."

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33. Juju Man
Reply
"Thank you for your info. They are such a smooth group and not much is out there about them in film. My Mom used to see the original Ink Spots with my grandfather, and I thought the other group was the original..."

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34. Austin Casey
Reply
"+Juju Man Yeah, a lot of people confuse Fuqua's group with the original Ink Spots bcause they were about as good. You're right about there not being much info easily available. Not only that but too much of the info about them online is false. They recorded this in 1951. Also filmed the same day were "It Is No Secret", "I'm Heading Back To Paradise", "The Gypsy" and "You May Be The Sweetheart Of Somebody Else". They lip synced them all but it's still cool to see them on video."

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35. Austin Casey
Reply
"+Wuhoo The lead Singer in this video of the ORIGINAL Ink Spots is Bill Kenny. He's the same guy who sang I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire, We Three, Maybe, Whispering Grass etc. The man singing lead in the other video with Charlie Fuqua's Ink Spots is Jimmy Holmes."

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36. cesarmanuel51
Reply
"+Austin Casey Wait, so Charlie Fuqua's Ink Spot was also the one who did "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire"?"

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37. Austin Casey
Reply
"No. Charlie Fuquas Ink Spots never recorded that tune. They did however cover many of the original Ink Spots hits. If you search Charlie Fuquas Ink Spots here and listen to their recordings, you can sort of compare them to the original Ink Spots recordings with Bill Kenny and you can hear the difference. Since Fuquas Ink Spots came about when the original Ink Spots broke up in the mid 50's, Fuquas Ink Spots recordings are all in Hi-Fi so they usually sound more clear or "newer" than the original Ink Spots recordings of the 30's and 40's which sometimes sound "older".

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38. frycook48
"We need more groups like this these days, the beautiful harmonies of these 4 voices is unlike anything I've ever heard."

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39. TheLeondo1
"Any time a lyric is spoken, i.e. Elvis, "Are You Lonesome Tonight", it's actually an homage to the Ink Spots. The speaking of lyrics that were traditionally sung was academically done prior, but it was the Ink Spots that made it what it became, for all of music history."

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40. Dissoluto Punito
"A classic. Thanks to Jack Lawrence for writing this masterpiece."

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2015
41. Will Robinson
"Is that Bill Kenny???? Wasn't he in another group?"

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42. Austin Casey
"+Will Robinson That is indeed Bill Kenny singing lead. He joined the group in 1936 and carried them until 1954 when he disbanded the group to go solo. Each guy in this video went on to form his own vocal group using the name "Ink Spots". The members here are @ 00:12 Left to Right are: Bill Kenny, Butterball Bowen, Adriel McDonald (their former valet!) and Charlie Fuqua."

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43. OFFRJW
"Bill Kenny, lead singer had a fantastic range to his voice. Mellow and crisp with impecable diction. His voice is unique and easy to identify. Love the group."

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44. OFFRJW
"Forgot to mention that the Mills Brothers were a group of similar genre. If you were into the Ink Spots, you probably were into the Mills Brothers"

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