November 2018 Update. Unfortunately most of these links are dead with one important exception.
Below are lots of links to mp3 files on archive.org. They are free and legal; most came from old time radio shows. Download away!
For background about Benny Goodman, check out this wonderful and well-rounded obituary of Benny Goodman by John S. Wilson in the New York Times.
The mp3s below should have a PLAY icon beside each line (you might need to wait 3 or 4 seconds for it to appear). If you press the play icon, a music player will pop up which should play the Benny Goodman songs below. The links are actually direct links to the mp3 files on archive.org ; if you want, you can download them straight from my web page. By the way, if you are looking for a tool to help you download all the mp3 links on a page, I recommend downloadthemall plugin for Firefox. Another thing. Each mp3 (or at least the compilation containing the mp3) is described in its own page on archive.org. Unfortunately, it would be really time-consuming to indicate which pages these mp3s come from, but you could probably figure it by googling the file name or by going up one folder from the URL. I cannot vouch for the dates or the titles, but the actual mp3 links all seem accurate to me. Finally, if you want your mind and ears to be blown away, this URL contains 10 30 minute live radio concerts Benny Goodman did in the 1930s . You probably don’t need to download these things, but they are wonderful to listen to and mostly commercial free (except for the last one called Camel Caravan).
Benny Goodman Mp3 Links
BG Honeysuckle Rose 13 minute version (Man, what an ending!)
BG Peggy Lee Somebody is taking my Place 1942 . I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is the song being played on the battery-operated radio in orbit in the film Apollo 13.
Benny Goodman’s song Goodbye
Benny Goodman’s Goodbye is a slow, sad and utterly beautiful song that remains one of my favorites. (More). I can’t seem to find a decent quality free mp3. Here is one defective version of the song which is somewhat listenable. For some reason it stops in the middle of streaming, but it plays normally on Windows Media Player. ABMp3 offers an mp3 version of the song Goodbye for free although you have to enter a captcha code to see the actual link. Here is the mp3 for sale at amazon.com for 99 cents.
Other Interesting Big Band MP3s
Archive.org has about 200 Vera Lynn songs. Most are lyrical and lush (i.e., not swing), but still very sweet).
Free & Legal Mp3s of Bei Mir Bist Du Schon
For more about my obsession with this song and the Andrew Sisters, see this post. The following links are all links to strange & interesting & free versions of Bei Mir Bist du Schon.
- Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Andrew Sisters) . This is the catchy tune that took America by storm in 1937.
- Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Martha Tilton). This version is so good that I am half-inclined to want to toss all my Andrew Sisters CDs away. This came from the classic Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall performance.
- Berlin Nachkriegersschlager version 1946. Wonderfully idiosyncratic.
- Charlie and the Orchestra gives a very bizarre Nazified version of the same song. (More).
- Mieczysław Fogg/Henryk Wars version. Fogg was a Polish singer and Wars was a Polish composer who worked in my favorite city, Lviv, Ukraine. (On youtube check out Ostatnia Niedziela, an absolutely beautiful tango by Fogg – unfortunately used by Nazis in concentration camps).
- Judy Garland Version. Not totally great, but still interesting. Fashioned as a kind of medley.
- Budapest Klezmer Version. The Klezmer instrument gives it a European/ethnic feel. Actually this is a jazzy/scat version too.
- The Janice Siegel version gives a great understated version which calls a lot of attention to the band. Appeared in the film Swing Kids.
- The Louis Prima and Keely Version is a slower, slightly more melancholy version sung as a male-female duet.
More Free Benny Goodman MP3 Compilation Downloads
The Benny Goodman songs are not well-labeled on archive.org so I’m listing all the music sets I can dig up. Each link contains about 10 songs. Most of the songs are listenable and ok (and in fact you can find the pages containing the above mp3 links on one of these pages). The actual mp3s on the top of this page are my favorite songs I’ve found. Your tastes may differ!
Benny Goodman (unspecified 795 10 songs without names!) The amazing thing about this one is that it contains 10 live broadcasts of 30 minutes each from Manhatten, presumably in 1937! All are commercial-free except the last one (Camel Caravan).
Benny Goodman 331-340 Martha Tilton Stuff!
Benny Goodman 341-350 More Martha Tilton
Benny Goodman 341-350-390-718 Lee, Bailey, Page,
Other Cool Old Time Radio Stuff
I just discovered Old Time Radio Catalog, an online service that sells you mp3 compilation CDs of old time radio stars for $5 each. I haven’t started listening, but I’m amazing that a single CD of the Andrews Sisters for $5 can contain 18 hours of radio performances! Holy cow! I’ve struck the jackpot! (Here are other singers).
Archive.org has a lot of stuff but no organization. Here are some useful things I found related to old time radio shows and music.
- Old Time Radio portal
- 78rpm collection of Archive.org
- Red Hot Jazz archives contains articles about lots of performers and Real Audio files (ugh!), but it’s still a great reference. More here.
- Selected articles from the Old Time Radio Catalog
My other cool web pages about music
Here are some other really cool web pages I have done about music which contain lots of links to free mp3s.
- My favorite playlists with download links. Jamendo and Free Music Archives.
- 11 Incredible Musicians you can download for free. Includes interviews with most of the musicians.
July 20 2014 Update. All of the audio files are from archive.org That doesn’t mean they are in the public domain, but in the case of Benny Goodman, I think many of them are free for unlimited use.
For example, look here:
The Creative Commons license graphic on the left side clearly says it’s public domain.
I think archive.org is pretty reliable for licensing. Except for obvious errors, once something is labeled as creative commons or public domain, it stays that way. But note that some of the Benny Goodman URLs don’t say anything about copyright. That may simply be an omission, but it may be that it’s not possible to determine copyright status.
My experience has been that BG mp3s broadcast live originally on the radio in the 1930s were public domain. But things in the 40s still are under copyright (except for overseas war broadcasts).
Unfortunately many of the URLs I provided on that page are direct links to the mp3s and not to the “compilation” page which would have copyright information.
Sometimes you can figure it out. For example, for this: http://www.archive.org/download/BennyGoodman361-370of390/BennyGoodmanVpeggyLee-WellMeetAgain.mp3
If you search for “Benny Goodman” and 361, you will get this:
I think the URL structure follows this same pattern.