What Goes Around Comes Around – Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Nertz?!

Sometimes the songs of yesteryear are apropos for today.  The lyrics of a song from the 1920’s or 30’s can translate very well in today’s economic tumult, with millions of Americans still out of work in the midst of our “economic recovery.”  I see many of the same things happening today that transpired during the Great Depression.

Bread Line 1930’s Brooklyn, NY

Current events played a bigger role in the writing of songs back then, including this gem from composers Wesley and Mischa Portnoff and lyrics by Norman Anthony, performed by Eddie Cantor in 1931, Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz! The song was featured in the 2005 film Cinderella Man.

Eddie Cantor was one of the great entertainers of all time. He was a humanitarian and optimist.  His rags to riches story is one that I shall elaborate on at another time.  He was usually among the first choices for many songwriters to showcase their work.

Is the current recession over? I don’t believe it.

And what does nertz mean? — nonsense or nuts or (a polite way at the time of saying) B.S.

Here for your listening pleasure an mp3 with lyrics below of Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Cheer Up, Smile, Nertz!

Sure, business is bunk,
And Wall Street is sunk,
We’re all of us broke, and ready to croak.
We’ve nothing to dunk,
Can’t even get drunk,
And all the while, they tell us to smile:

Cheer up, gentle citizens, though you have no shirts,
Happy days are here again. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
All aboard prosperity, giggle ’till it hurts!
No more bread-line charity. Cheer up, smile, nertz!

Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer,
Up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer, better times are here.
Sunny smilers we must be, the optimist asserts,
Let’s hang the fat-head to a tree! Cheer up, smile, nertz!

The world’s in the red,
We’re better off dead,
Depression, they say’s in session to stay.
Our judges are queer,
Our banks disappear,
And all the while, they tell us to smile:

Cheer up, gentle citizens, though you have no shirts,
Happy days are here again. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
All aboard prosperity, giggle ’till it hurts,
No more bread-line charity. Cheer up, smile, nertz!

Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer,
Up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer, better times are here.
Sunny smilers we must be, the optimist asserts,
Let’s hang the fat-head to a tree! Cheer up, smile, nertz!

Nertz!

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3 Responses to What Goes Around Comes Around – Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

  1. yeppers says:

    Well, I just saw this blog today, 3/2/13, after hearing the song on The Saturday Night Fish Fry with Neal Murray. It appears this song is timeless.

  2. DoubleW says:

    I am just now reading an autobiography of Norman Anthony, who wrote these lyrics.
    Titled “How to Grow Old Disgracefully,” it is an entertaining read, and a very interesting window on the past. Anthony was a cartoonist, writer, magazine editor and Broadway producer. He was on Broadway in the 1920s and ’30s, and knew all the “greats.” Apparently he was a lively boozer during that Prohibition era, along with many others, and like many others he made big money, blew it all, and then did it over again. The book is a bit marred by his raging ego, but if he hadn’t had a raging ego he might not have written it. All in all, a fun read.

    • Max says:

      Thank you for telling our readers about the book. Anthony is not someone I’m familiar with, so that will go on the “to read” list. First person narratives usually have some interesting insights into an era that many history books miss.

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