Ruth Etting made quite a few films, and so there’s lots of footage out there of her singing – but not all of it has ended up on YouTube yet – although I have no doubt it will eventually! But this is the first time I’ve found a clip of her on a stage, with just a piano. I like the simplicity. And the song. And the fact that at the end of the song she plays with the phrasing. It’s definitely stylized, and definitely torchy, and definitely an acquired taste, but if you like a good torch song, she’s the best!
The clip is from One Good Turn, a short film produced in 1930 by Vitaphone and Warner Bros, and starring Ruth Etting and Jay Velie. The plot involves the singing team of Eton and Farrell, with Ruth Etting playing Ruth Eton – brilliant! In order to keep the team together, Ruth has to give her partner singing lessons.
The song, If I Could Be With You (One Hour To-Night), was written by Henry Creamer and Jimmy Johnson in 1926, and Ruth originally recorded it in that same year, and was pictured on the sheet music, playing the ukulele.