DEAR JERRY: I have been confused by two completely different songs with nearly identical titles. I think that both were hits in the '50s.
The titles are either "Goodnight Sweetheart" or "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight." --Matt Turzy, York, Pa.
DEAR MATT: This one is a mess alright, but let's try to sort things out.
First came "Good Night, Sweetheart," one of the bigger hits of 1931. This tune begins: "Good night sweetheart, 'til we meet tomorrow. Good night sweetheart, sleep will banish sorrow."
Those with hit versions of this drowzy ballad include Wayne King, Bing Crosby, Russ Colombo, and Ruth Etting. All came out in 1931. There were no hit versions of "Good Night, Sweetheart," after the '30s.
Though not a single release, there is at least one 1950s waxing of "Good Night, Sweetheart" in my collection. It is one of a dozen snooze-related tracks on "Sleep Warm," a 1959 LP by Dean Martin (Capitol T-1150). For these sessions, the orchestra is directed by fellow Rat-Packer, Frank Sinatra.
"Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite," a Top 5 R&B hit in mid-1954, is by the Spaniels (Vee Jay 107). A cover version, "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight" (note slightly more precise spelling) by the McGuire Sisters went Top 10 on the pop charts at the same time. This number goes: "Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go, (repeat), I hate to leave you but I really can't stay, goodnight sweetheart goodnight."
While the Spaniels' doo-wop original didn't make the pop charts, it finally, and deservedly, became the mainstream standard.
Also worth noting is the Untouchables' fine 1960 remake of "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight" (Madison 134). Their's has long been the most-played version in some markets. (Radio markets that is, not supermarkets.)
Believe it or not, a very similar question came from Lyn Clery, of Lakeland, Fla. Now you both are enlightened.