Stories of Standards: “East of the Sun (West of the Moon)” by Brooks Bowman
Tune in weekday mornings for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of ” East of the Sun (and West of the Moon).” Rodney Franks presents Stories of Standards Monday through Friday at 7:50 and 8:50 a.m. starting Monday, November 4!
“East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” was written by Brooks Bowman and was first performed in 1934 in the Princeton University Triangle Club’s production of “Stags at Bay”. It then became a hallmark of the Princeton Tigertones and is also sung by the Princeton Nassoons. It was first recorded by Tom Coakley and His Orchestra later that spring. Coakley’s Orchestra had a coast-to-coast tour and their recording went to number one on the charts and the song has been a favorite of musicians and audiences ever since.
Brooks Bowman (1913-1937) was born in Ohio, initially attended Stanford University, but transferred to Princeton with a friend. He was an enthusiastic member of the Triangle Club, which produced sophisticated musical comedies, where his songs attracted the attention of Hal Kemp, who recorded at least two of them. In addition, Bowman was president of the Princeton Tower Club. Bowman went to Hollywood after graduation, but was persuaded by fellow Princetonian William Borden to return East in 1937 to start a songwriting collaboration. Bowman died in a car accident, the result of a blown tire, before the first result of that partnership could be published. Before his death F. Scott Fitzgerald (Princeton 1917 and Triangle Club alumnus) had written him a letter of congratulation suggesting that “East of the Sun” be used as “a song of devotion” to Princeton. The Triangle Club still collects royalties from recordings of Bowman’s works. His papers are held in the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library of the Princeton University Archives.