Friday, 10 June 2016

And They Live in Jersey... Ray Noble

Love is the sweetest thing
What else on earth could ever bring
Such happiness to ev'rything
As Love's old story.
- Lyrics and Music - Ray Noble

Raymond Stanley "Ray" Noble (17 December 1903 – 3 April 1978) was an English bandleader, composer, arranger, radio comedian, and actor.

Noble wrote both lyrics and music for many popular songs during the British dance band era known as the "Golden Age of British music", notably for his longtime friend and associate Al Bowlly, including "Love Is The Sweetest Thing", "Cherokee", "The Touch of Your Lips", "I Hadn't Anyone Till You", "Isle of Capri", and his signature tune, "The Very Thought of You". He also wrote with others - Goodnight, sweetheart" - was written in 1931 by the song-writing team of Ray Noble Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly.

Noble also played a radio comedian opposite American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's stage act of Mortimer Snerd and Charlie McCarthy, and American comedy duo Burns and Allen, later transferring these roles from radio to TV and popular films.

Briefly he was in Jersey, arriving in the late 1960s, and hence was the subject of this Jersey Topic Article.

In March 1978 he flew to London for treatment of cancer, and later died of the disease at a London hospital.

And They Live in Jersey...
By Pat Hall, Jersey Topic 1967

Recently back from a long stay in the United States is the celebrated composer, Mr. Ray Noble.

When I met him I found it difficult to believe that this tall, slim and incredibly youthful-looking man was writing songs at the same time as Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

His pre-war hits-The Very Thought of You; Lore is the Sweetest Thing; Goodnight Sweetheart; one could go on naming these evergreens which have lived through three decades and are still bringing royalties.

I wondered why that era was so rich in composers of such graspable and lovely melodies. In his short, sharp, almost staccato style of speaking, he told me it was simply that there was a market for them. It was an adult market because adults had the money to buy the records. There was no race to get into the Top Twenty and they were able to time the market adequately. Songs were plugged by being sprinkled generously but judiciously to the public.

Nowadays, so many more songs are recorded each week to meet the teenage market that their life is short and their death absolute.

All his life Ray Noble has been absorbed in music. He began his musical career as orchestrator for a London musical publisher. His first job as conductor was given him by H.M.V. (now E.M.I.) to conduct their house-band. He took over from Carroll Gibbons, and under the name of the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra he made many recordings.

Had he ever considered writing musicals? "I was always so busy orchestrating, recording and broadcasting that I never had the time to get together with a lyric writer," he said.

In the United States, where he formed his own dance band, he employed, as 2nd trombone, a young man named Glenn Miller, who composed a number which they all referred to as just "Glenn's Tune." This later became the signature tune of the ill-fated Glenn Miller when he formed his own hand.

Claude Thornhill composed the signature tune of his orchestra while he was a pianist with the Ray Noble band, and this too, became "Claude's tune" on their music sheet. Another nameless tune on their music sheet was 170, which Ray Noble wrote because he wanted more music in a certain tempo in his repertoire. It was not until several years later on his return to London, that words were put to the song which became Cherokee.

Mr. and Mrs. Noble, who have many friends here, were frequent visitors to the island before they came to live here about ten years ago.

I could not resist asking him what he thought of the Beatles. "As a musician, I don't'' was his quick businesslike retort. "But don't think me unkind. I recognise them as entertainers who were smart enough to recognise and exploit the market. They are most successful performers and real professionals-but not musicians."

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