This piece was written by Leroy Anderson in Arlington, Virginia, while he was serving in the military during WWII. It was premiered by the composer conducting the Boston Pops in May of that year when it appeared in their “Army Night” after the “Promenade” as an extra item. It made its debut recording in June 1950 and hit No. 12 on the Billboard chart, and later that year it was released by the Boston Pops and Arthur Fiedler and that version reached No. 28.
When asked about the piece, Leroy Anderson said he thought of the title first and then worked the music so that it reflected the rhythm of a syncopated clock.
The most successful version is the one recorded by Percy Faith in 1951 which was used by CBS for The Late Show on Chicago’s WBBM-TV and New York’s WCBS-TV. There have been several other versions used in the theme for Woodsy Owl, the films Holy Man and Private Parts, and an episode of Moonlighting.
Mitchell Parish added words to the song in 1950, although they are not heard anywhere near as often as the instrumental version.
Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra recordings
MCA Classics MCAD2-9815-A (CD: The Leroy Anderson Collection)
Cologne Radio Orchestra recordings
Laserlight 15 248 (CD: Symphonic Pops/Blue Tango)
Conductor – Pinchas Steinberg
Eastman-Rochester Pops Orchestra recordings
Mercury 432 013-2 (CD: The Music of Leroy Anderson)
Conductor – Frederick Fennell
Richard Hayman and Orchestra recordings
Naxos 8.559125 (CD: Anderson: Orchestral Favourites)
Rochester Pops orchestra recordings
Pro Arte CDD-454 (CD: Classical Jukebox: More Favourites of Leroy Anderson)
Conductor – Erich Kunzel
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra recordings
RCA 0 9026 68048 2 (CD: The Typewriter)
Conductor – Leonard Slatkin
Isau Tomita recordings
RCA Victor Red Seal 5660-2-RC (CD: Tomita’s Greatest Hits)
Synthesizer –Isau Tomita