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  Happy Days Are Here Again  

Ted Greene Arrangement - April 18, 1985
Compilation pages by Paul Vachon

Ted's Original Lesson sheet
HappyDaysAreHereAgain_Ted Greene1985-04-18.pdf

My compilation pages, changes and comparisons
HappyDaysAreHereAgain_Ted Greene1985-04-18.pdf

Happy Days Are Here Again, published in 1929, was written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen for the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows.  It was originally played with an upbeat tempo and syncopated melody line and the tune was later used for FDR’s 1932 campaign.  Since then it has been adopted as the unofficial theme song for the Democratic Party.  It’s been performed and recorded by hundreds of artists.

In 1962 and 1963 Barbara Streisand recorded a slower, more reflective version of this song.  (Check out the videos of her singing it on YouTube.)  I never heard Ted play this tune but I believe his arrangement was intended to be similarly played as a slower piece, allowing the various rich chords and moving lines to stand out.  I derived a basic lead sheet by modifying the original score, simplifying the melody to straight quart-notes.  Since Ted re-harmonized the entire piece I didn’t include the original chord changes.  Of course if you wish you may disregard the rhythmic notation and play the melody with the original syncopated feel.

The format of the song is AABA.  Ted started in the key of E and played the A, A, B sections, and then at the end of the Bridge he modulated down a 1/2 step and played the next A section (now in Eb).  He then went on to the B section again and ended abruptly at measure 38 without finishing.  In order to complete the arrangement I went ahead and added elements that he used earlier on—the same chord voicings and moves, modified only by key or range. There are only a couple of very slight differences due to logistics, but essentially the same.  The chord diagrams in blue are ones I added.

I finished the B section in Eb using the same chords as he did in the Bridge in E (except now in the key of Eb and up an octave).  Again, at the end of the Bridge the arrangement modulates down 1/2 step to the key of D.  The final A section has the same voicings as the very first A section (except now in D and up an octave).  I repeated the last phrase two more times, using the variations that Ted used earlier in the arrangement.

Comments:  (page and measure numbers refer to the compilation pages)

P.1, measure 3: Use the George Van Eps 5th Finger technique on the Amaj7 chord — fingering: 1,4,3,2,1 (bend first finger sideways to get the G# on the top string).

P.1, measure 8: For the Fmaj7 chord, if you find this too much of a stretch, play the high E note on the open first string, and let it sustain through to the next chord as well.

P.2, measure 19:           Finger the B chord as follows:  1,4,3,1 then for the X notes keep the 3rd finger planted and add fingers 1 and 2 on strings 6 and 4 respectively.

P.3, measure 31:           Finger the Am7(b5) as:  1,2,3,4 then lift the 4th finger to catch the Eb note on the top string with the side of the first finger (the George Van Eps technique again).  Finger the Bb11(b9)/Ab as:  3,1,4,2 starting with the 2nd finger laying over strings 2 and 1.  Now lift the 4th finger to get the Bb note (the X’d note).

P.4, measure 33:           Finger the Abmaj9(#11) as:  2,2,4,3,1.

P.4, measure 34:           In order to get the X’d notes for the Ab while at the same time sustaining the C and the lower Ab is tricky.  Try fingering 3,1,2,4 and then slide finger 2 down a 1/2 step to get the D note.  This is a bit awkward.  Or you could use your thumb on the 6th string:  T,1,3,4 and then simply play the D with the 2nd finger.  Or if you want to disregard the sustain on the 4th string just do this:  2,1,3,4 and then lift the 1st finger off string 4 and use it to play the D on string 3.

P.4, measures 37-38:    I find it easiest to keep the 1st finger full barre down throughout measures 37 and 38, even though Ted’s diagrams don’t call for it.  In measure 38, the fill (the first of the “blue chords”) is a slight variation of the fill that Ted made in measure 18.  In measure 18 Ted’s moving lines create a 6th and then a 4th interval fill inside the G# chord.  For measure 38 I added a 6th followed by another 6th—it was easier to finger this and it may actually be what Ted had intended to play in measure 18 but couldn’t be executed because of the range and voicing of the G# chord there.

  • Measures 39-40 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 19-20 (except now it’s in the key of Eb and up and octave).
  • Measures 41-44 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 21-24 (except now in the key of D and up an octave).
  • Measures 45-46 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 5-6 (except now in D and up an octave) with the exception of the A11 chord.
  • Measures 47-48 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 35-36 (except now in D).
  • Measure 49 and first chord of measure 50 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 15-16 (except now in the key of D).
  • Measure 50 (beat 4) corresponds to what Ted wrote as optional chords for measure 6 on beat 4 (except now in the key of D).
  • Measures 51-52 correspond to what Ted wrote for measures 7-8 (except now in D). 
  • At the very end you might want to throw in a splash of harmonics. I added a D major triad with open strings 4,3,2 at the 7th fret.


I hope this shows that the end portion is in fact Ted's arrangement, not mine.  I just “followed through” the missing portions with what he had already laid out for us.  I hope you like it.  This is an excellent arrangement, it’s worth learning!


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