Arthur Tracy (1899–1997)
  “The Streetsinger”


Arthur Tracy (Norris Collection)Born Abba Avrom Tracovutsky in Moldavia, Arthur Tracy was brought to the United States as a child and began his entertainment career in Vaudeville. He became famous on radio in the early 1930s as “The Streetsinger,” and his deep romantic voice thrilled listeners. However, he had the misfortune of coming on the scene at just the same time as Bing Crosby — indeed, the two appeared together in Crosby’s first feature film, “The Big Broadcast” (1932), in which Tracy sings Here Lies Love; Crosby makes the song his own, of course, and Tracy’s old-fashioned singing style suffers in comparison. Nonetheless, Tracy’s records sold well during the Depression, and he had an affecting style with the beautiful ballads of the day. His recording of another Crosby song, Pennies From Heaven, was revived in the 1981 Steve Martin film of the same name, which briefly rescued Tracy from obscurity late in his life.

In 1936, Tracy recorded Old Sailor (Decca F-6136), with music by Fred Godfrey and lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy that include the rhyme “Your eyes still glisten as children listen...,” to which Irving Berlin’s “Where the treetops glisten as children listen...” from White Christmas (1942) bears a curious resemblance.