Underrated Songwriter No1: Arthur Hamilton

Arthur Hamilton is best known for Cry Me a River – and why not?  Jazz players like the ninths, and female singers love to tell a bad man to go to hell.  I’ve never liked the rhyme of “plebian” with “me ‘n’ “, but I think you can pull it off by delivering it with a sneer: it is something he said, after all.

Happily, Arthur Hamilton has more than one good song.  I liked this one before I knew who’d written it:


And this one is just plain classy:

Then the coup de grace:

So there you have it: Arthur Hamilton.  But I know of no compilation CD, and no tribute show.  Get on it, cabaret performers.

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11 thoughts on “Underrated Songwriter No1: Arthur Hamilton

  1. I have a student singing, Cry Me a River, on her Senior Recital. We are having a very difficult time finding Arthur Hamilton’s birth (and death) dates to publish in her Recital program. Would you be able to find that information?

    Professor Debra Marsch

    • I’m happy to report that Arthur Hamilton is, to the best of my knowledge, still alive.

      But a quick search of the internet, and right you are: his birthdate is not easy to find. It’s also not in any of the books I’ve checked.

      I will not give up, though. Let me know if you have any success before me.

    • Glad to hear this, Jan.

      I’m sure it’s now too late to answer Professor Marsch’s query above, and I’ve not been idle in searching for Hamilton’s birthdate, but I have been unproductive. I tried the New Grove Dictionary Of Music and Musicians, the Oxford Companion to Jazz, various Encyclopedias of Jazz, Biographical Dictionaries of Popular Song, Dictionaries of Popular Music, Guides to Twentieth Century Music, and even a Dictionary of Popular Culture.

      Nothing.

      If I had an American Who’s Who, I bet I could get somewhere – or maybe not. I’m now contemplating phoning ASCAP and saying, “Hey, if I were to buy a birthday card for Arthur Hamilton, like, what would be the best day to deliver it? And, you know, roughly how old would he be?”

  2. Hey, great site! I stumbled in while researching Arthur Hamilton. Have you heard his “You’ll Remember Me?” by Peggy Lee? You’ll not regret it.

    • Thank you, Scott.

      I hadn’t heard “You’ll Remember Me”, and it’s a treat – thank you. It reminds me of Kander and Ebb. Not the Kander and Ebb of, say, ‘Chicago’, but the Kander and Ebb of ‘The Happy Time’. By which I mean only that Arthur Hamilton’s songs are even more varied and unjustly neglected than I already thought they were.

      • I’m glad you liked it.”You’ll Remember Me” was one of those songs that got brief radio play in my childhood (late 60’s) when pop radio was still a vast and mysterious ocean, and it haunted me ever since. Ms. Lee also did an album-length project with Leiber and Stoller post-“Is That All There Is” which is harmonically and thematically rich in a Kurt Weil-y way. It is now available in a compilation called, shockingly “Peggy Lee Sings Leiber and Stoller.”

  3. I have the same schplikus regarding info on Arthur Hamilton…meaning there’s not much out there. He wrote a song (with jazz pianist Joe Harnell) called The New Woman which my wife Donna Theodore performed during the early 90s. It’s about women’s lib and the lyrics celebrate those events, including a reference to Betty Friedan. I have the band charts, but no composition date. Has anyone run onto this song? Or have a suggestion where one can research arcane pop material? Don Martin Email me at: info@donnatheodore.com

    • I don’t know the song, Don, but I’ll keep an eye and ear out for it. And I will always be in your debt for the word “schplikus”.

  4. Dear PJ Casey,

    Analysing the cord sequences in Cry Me A River is a wonderful exercise. The Aminor beginning then shift to D minor via E minor to C. But not ending there goes on to really cry in E then Eminor. Some small comforting in D, with a souciance of uncertianty in Dminor, then Peace in our house, with G going to C.

    The E minor crying is perfectly placed three quarters of the way through. What mastery, and he wrote the words.

    Regards Musophiles
    Tom Clark at thomas.oldtree.clark@gmail.com

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