Russian-born vaudeville star Sophie Tucker (“The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas”), who was known to be receptive to music by Black composers, was convinced by her maid, Mollie Elkins, to hear the young Brooks demonstrate the song. Tucker agreed to sing it at a Chicago theatre, and adopted it as her theme song, one writer calling it “ the landmark song of this Tin Pan Alley epoch.” Over its lifetime, Some of These Days sold over one million copies – sheet music sales were substantial – and was recorded by numerous artists, including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Billie Holiday.
According to Tucker’s biography “Sophie Tucker: First Lady of Show Business,” Brooks wrote the melody first, combining elements of ragtime and Tin Pan Alley popular song, aiming to please a music publisher. Then, he overheard a couple in a café arguing, the woman spitting out, “Some of these days, you’re going to miss me, honey!” Brooks turned that encounter into the lyrics, and incorporated the song into his stage act. Vaudevillian Blossom Seeley picked it up, Rossiter published the sheet music, and the song became a 1910 ragtime hit.
The following year Tucker recorded Some of These Days on an Edison wax cylinder, which topped the charts and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The American Quartet featuring Billy Murray had another hit with it in 1911, followed by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band 1923 recording, which is regarded as one of the first jazz hits. Tucker again recorded a hit with Ted Lewis and orchestra (No. 1, 1927), and Bing Crosby had one with the Isham Jones orchestra (1932).
In her autobiography, Tucker declared, “It had everything. Hasn't it proved it? I've been singing it for thirty years, made it my theme song. I've turned it inside out, singing it every way imaginable, as a dramatic song, as a novelty number, as a sentimental ballad, and always audiences have loved it and asked for it.”
Tucker sang Some of These Days in the films “Honky Tonk” (1929), “Broadway Melody of 1938” (1937), and “Follow the Boys” (1944), and it has appeared in “Rose Marie” (sung by Jeanette MacDonald), “Scarface,” “For Me and My Gal,” “All That Jazz,” “Beyond the Sea,” and TV’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “White Collar.”
In Canada, Some of These Days has been recorded by Jeff Healey, The Four Lads, Serena Ryder, Oscar Peterson, and Ranee Lee. This versatile standard has also been covered by a long list of pop and jazz stars, such as Big Maybelle, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Coleman Hawkins, Brenda Lee, Ted Lewis and His Band, The McGuire Sisters, The Mills Brothers, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and teen idol Bobby Vinton.
Brooks performed his famous tune in 1940 in San Francisco for ASCAP’s 25th anniversary, and again in 1953 to mark Tucker’s 50th anniversary in show biz.
Songwriter, pianist, and actor Shelton Brooks (1886 – 1975) was born in Amherstburg, Ontario. Moving to the USA in his teens with his family, Brooks became a ragtime pianist in Detroit and Chicago. He wrote vaudeville songs for Al Jolson and Nora Bayes, and penned the jazz standards Darktown Strutters’ Ball and Walkin’ the Dog.