Billy Heagney

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Tin Pan Alley tunesmith Billy Heagney had a run of luck with songs about Hawaii beginning in the early '30s. In some cases the amount of credit being poured on him like pineapple juice should be doubled,…
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Tin Pan Alley tunesmith Billy Heagney had a run of luck with songs about Hawaii beginning in the early '30s. In some cases the amount of credit being poured on him like pineapple juice should be doubled, as the names of his co-writing partners tend to be aliases for greedy publishers extending their total sum of royalties collected as if fencing in yet another beach as private property. No such thing would happen "In the Land of Golden Dreams," one of Heagney's ultra-idyllic portraits of the Hawaiian Isles and quite typical in a style also exploited by hit songwriters of the day such as Spencer Williams, Paul Denniker, and Marvin Smolev -- the latter a writer who paired at times with Heagney but actually existed.

That's more than can be said for or by the attractive-sounding Roxanne Hampton, a pseudonym for producer Joe Davis, whose part in writing down "Down Hawaii Way" comes down to very little. Heagney wrote "Somebody's Lonely in Hawaii" by himself, perhaps indicating that the songwriter was the lonely one, but better yet got to retain a total share of the writer's acreage when it was published. The song competed in an aloha-holic atmosphere with Smolev's "North Hawaiian Skies," Denniker's "In My Dream of Waikiki," and Williams' "Hawaiian Kisses." Some Hawaiian fever lingered in the hit parade into the '50s, but Heagney probably did well for himself diversifying, his songs on other subjects including "Hold Me and Fold Me Close to Your Heart" -- which sounds like one of the few songs written from the perspective of an envelope -- and the excellent ragtime "12th Street Blues." This songwriter himself sang on a recording session in 1926.