I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles: Wikis


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"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" is a popular song which debuted in 1918 and was first published in 1919.




The music was written by John Kellette. The lyrics are credited to "Jaan Kenbrovin", actually a collective pseudonym for the writers James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent. The number was debuted in the Broadway musical The Passing Show of 1918, and it was introduced by Helen Carrington.

The copyright to "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" was originally registered in 1919, and was owned by the Kendis-Brockman Music Co. Inc. This was transferred later that year to Jerome H. Rernick & Co. of New York and Detroit. When the song was written, James Kendis, James Brockman, and Nat Vincent all had separate contracts with publishers, which led them to use the name Jaan Kenbrovin for credit on this song. James Kendis and James Brockman were partners in the Kendis-Brockman Music Company.

Becomes a hit

The waltz was a major Tin Pan Alley hit, and was performed and recorded by most major singers and bands of the late 1910s and early 1920s. The song was a hit for Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra in 1919. The Original Dixieland Jass Band recording of the number is an unusual early example of jazz in 3/4 time.

The song also became a hit with the public in British music halls and theatres during the early 1920s. Dorothy Ward was especially renowned for making the song famous with her appearances at these venues. The song was also used by English comedian "Professor" Jimmy Edwards as his signature tune - played on the trombone. Harpo Marx would play the song on clarinet, which would then begin emitting bubbles. The title air, or first line of the chorus, is quoted in the 1920s song "Singing in the Bathtub", a favorite of cartoon canary Tweety Bird. In the early 1970s, The Bonzo Dog Band's stage show featured a robot that sang the title air while blowing bubbles.

The writer Ring Lardner parodied the lyric during the Black Sox scandal of 1919, when he began to suspect that players on the Chicago White Sox team were deliberately losing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.[1] His version began: "I'm forever blowing ballgames."

The song features extensively in the 1931 prohibition gangster movie The Public Enemy starring James Cagney. It also was sung by a white bird in the Merrie Melodies cartoon I Love to Singa. In Ken Russell's 1969 film Women In Love the song is featured in an unusual scene where two sisters, played by Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden, wander away from a large picnic gathering and are confronted by a large herd of bullocks. Years later, director Brad Mays paid homage to that scene in his 2008 film The Watermelon, in which actress Kiersten Morgan sings the song while dancing on a Malibu beach.[2]

A parody of the song was written and performed as "I'm Forever Blowing Bubble-Gum" by Spike Jones and his City Slickers.

The song was again parodied in 2008, on the web series The Idiot Box (a descendant of MST3K), when the character of "Miss Frances" from Ding Dong School appeared to sing of her fractured legacy; since only a single full episode of her show remains, which features her blowing bubbles for a surprisingly long time, she sings ""I'm forever blowing bubbles", but with additional new lyrics related to the Idiot Box episode.

West Ham United connection

The song is now better known in the UK as the club anthem of West Ham United, a London-based football club.

"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" was introduced to the club by former manager Charlie Paynter in the late twenties. A player, Billy J. "Bubbles" Murray who played for the local Park School had an almost uncanny resemblance to the boy in the famous "Bubbles" painting by Millais used in a Pears soap commercial of the time. Headmaster Cornelius Beal began singing the tune "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" with amended lyrics when Park players played well.[3]

Beal was a friend of Paynter, while Murray was a West Ham trialist and played football at schoolboy level with a number of West Ham players such as Jim Barrett. Through this contrivance of association the club's fans took it upon themselves to begin singing the popular music hall tune before home games, sometimes reinforced by the presence of a house band requested to play the refrain by Charlie Paynter.[3]

In 2002 there was speculation that "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" was sung at the Boleyn Ground by visiting Swansea City supporters during an FA Cup-tie in 1921-22. After a goalless draw away at Vetch Field the two teams met at Upton Park only to share two goals in the replay which resulted in a further replay at Ashton Gate, Bristol, which the Welshmen won by a solitary goal. After such a marathon it is perhaps not surprising that a number of Hammers fans remembered the distinctive refrains and took the words as their own, if indeed the song had been sung by the opposing supporters.

To perhaps add some substance to that theory, David Farmer in his history of Swansea City FC does state, when recounting the period between 1920 to 1926, that in match reports "Bubbles" was sung at all home games. In one particular newspaper report of a match versus Bury on 8 January 1921 the comment is made : "At 2.20 pm came the ever popular singing of "Bubbles" from the main bank with one tremendous sway."

Some West Ham fans sing alternate lyrics. The second line's "nearly reach the sky" is changed to "they reach the sky", "Then like my dreams" is also changed to "And like my dreams". In addition the fans begin a chant of "United, United!" to cap it off.[3] There is a tradition amongst West Ham United fans whereby they blow bubbles at matches to accompany the singing of the song.

These touchline songs were a form of predecessor to the terrace chants that have since become a trademark of the game. It was adopted by West Ham's supporters in the late 1920s and is now one of the most recognisable club anthems in English football along with "You'll Never Walk Alone".

As a tribute to West Ham, the punk rock band the Cockney Rejects covered the song in 1980. The song is also distinctly heard in the movie Green Street Hooligans,[4] starring Elijah Wood.

In 2006 at the final match at Arsenal F.C.'s Highbury stadium, Arsenal supporters broke into song to celebrate West Ham's defeat of Tottenham which elevated Arsenal into the UEFA Champions League on the last day. Similarly, Blackburn Rovers were heard singing 'Bubbles' in their dressing room after West Ham assisted them winning the Premiership in 1995 having held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw on the final day of the Premier League season, led by Tony Gale (an eleven-year West Ham veteran who had moved to Blackburn earlier in the season).

On 16 May 1999, 23,680 people blew bubbles for one minute at West Ham United's Upton Park stadium. [1]


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The original lyrics per first publication.

Verse 1

I'm dreaming of you
I'm scheming about you
I'm building castles high.
They're born anew,
Their days are few,
Just like a sweet ladybird.
And as the daylight is dawning,
They dont come again in the morning.


I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

Verse 2

When cattle creep,
When I'm asleep,
To lands of hope I stray.
Then at daybreak,
When I awake,
My bluebird flutters away.
Happiness new seemed so near me,
Happiness come forth and heal me.


I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

Notable recordings

Notable recordings of the song include:

  • Albert C. Campbell & Henry Burr
    • Columbia A-2701 (matrix: 78263-1)
    • Recorded January 22, 1919
  • Ben Selvin & his Novelty Orchestra
    • Victor 18603 (matrix: 22966-6)
    • Recorded July 31, 1919
  • Frank Fontaine (as Crazy Guggenheim on The Jackie Gleason Show/CBS-TV;'Songs I Sing on the Jackie Gleason Show' - Track 2)
    • ABC Paramount Records 90212
    • Recorded 1962
    • Number One Album on Billboard in February 1963


  1. ^ Entry for Ring Lardner at the Baseball Library
  2. ^ see http://pro.imdb.com/title/tt0066579/movieconnections
  3. ^ a b c John Helliar. "The Story of Bubbles". West Ham United. http://www.whufc.com/page/VintageClaret/0,,12562~1193983,00.html. 
  4. ^ The film is known alternatively as "Green Street Hooligans" (US) or "Hooligans" (Aus/Rest of the world)

External links

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