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If I Didnít Care (1939)
Written by Jack Lawrence
The Ink Spots were a popular vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. They and the Mills Brothers, another vocal group of the 1930s and 1940s, gained much acceptance in the white community.
The style of their songs, usually began with a guitar riff, followed by the tenor, who sang the whole song through. After the tenor finished singing, the bass would either recite the first half, or the bridge of the song, or would speak the words, almost in a free form, that were not part of the song, commonly using the words "Honey Child", or Honey Babe", expressing his love for the opposite sex in the song. This was followed by the tenor, who finished up singing the last refrain or the last half of the song.
On January 12, 1939, The Ink Spots entered Decca studios to record a ballad written by a young songwriter named Jack Lawrence. This ballad, "If I Didn't Care", was to be one of their biggest hits, selling over 19 million copies and becoming the 7th-best-selling single of all time. It was also the first recording by the group to reach the US Pop Charts. Despite its popularity, "If I Didn't Care" never reached #1 on the US Pop Charts, staying at #2 for several weeks. This is the first studio recorded example of The Ink Spots "Top & Bottom" format with Bill Kenny singing lead and Hoppy Jones performing the "talking bass". For this recording, each member was paid $37.50; however, after the record sold 200,000 Decca destroyed the original contract and the group was paid an additional $3,750. This was the recording that brought the group to global fame and also the recording that would establish the "Top & Bottom" format as The Ink Spots "trademark". From 1939 until the group's disbanding in 1954, most of their songs would employ this format although not all of their songs did.