I gave a talk about the 350 Jersey songs project last night at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, and asked attendees if they could think of any good songs to write about. There were lots of great suggestions that I will be using in this column, including today’s entry, “There’s a Small Hotel.”
A sweetly romantic ballad written by the great composing team of Richard Rodgers, music, and Lorenz Hart, lyrics, “There’s a Small Hotel” was inspired by the Stockton Inn in Stockton (Hunterdon County). The Inn has a rich, 300-year history of its own, and though it is currently closed, its owners say it will reopen soon (though it will be just a restaurant, not a hotel).
The song was written for the 1935 musical “Billy Rose’s Jumbo,” but cut, and then used in 1936’s “On Your Toes.” Frank Sinatra also sang it in the 1957 movie, “Pal Joey,” and many other artists have recorded it, including Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett and, more recently, Jane Monheit.
Below is a Jack Whiting’s 1937 version of it, from the London production of “On Your Toes.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.