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Item Description

1 Item Set or Lot of "God Bless America"; by Irving Berlin; Piano / Vocal Sheet Music. Includes:

ITEM 1.) Irving Berlin; God Bless America, Piano Solo; Complete Sheet Music; Piano / Vocal; 1938; Irving Berlin Music Corporation #????;

As "Introduced by Kate Smith, Armistice Day, 1938" OR "First Performance by Kate Smith, Armistice Day, 1938";

Low in D (A to B); NOTE: ALSO AVAILABLE IN High in Bb (F to G); Will Substitute on Request;

Small Format;

English Throughout;

Front Cover Artwork featuring text;

Preprinted Cover Price of ?? cents; "1.00" written in ink in upper right corner;

Inside Front Cover is first page of music;

No Title Page or Table of Contents;

God Bless America; Words and Music by Irving Berlin; Moderato;

1 Tune Total;

2 pages of music;

Rear Cover has ad for the Various Editions of God Bless America (Concert, Women's, Children's, etc.);

Published by Irving Berlin Music Corporation; New York, New York; Copyright 1938, 1939, 1965, 1966; Copyright was assigned to the God Bless America Fund (Gene Tunney, A. L. Berman, Ralph J. Bunche, Trustees);

Condition Very Good for age and the fact that it was "on display" for some time; Covers Show Storage Wear; Pages Clean, Tight and Unmarked;

The primary item was part of the collection of Henry J. Hauschild Jr., who billed himself as a “Physiognomist – Bibliopolist – Cognoscente di Eccellentissimo”, and was the very proud owner of the world famous "Nose Gallery” at “The Oldest House” in Victoria, Texas. Henry Senior founded the Hauschild Music Company which was later owned by his 8 children and eventually the four brothers before being closed in 1980; After the Opera House Restaurant failed, the space became the Bible Book Store and later Opera House Antiques; This item was part of the leftover inventory of the Music Store and at one time was on consignment at the Bible Book Store;

"Musicologist and historian, Delmer Rogers, longtime member of the staff of the Department of Music at the University of Texas, is of the opinion that the Hauschild Music Company, founded in Victoria, Texas in 1891, was the second oldest institution to commercially publish sheet music in Texas. (Thos. Goggan of Houston being the first.) Also, his extensive research indicates that Hauschild's was the first in Texas to issues music with Spanish titles. About thirty were published, many by talented writers, and sold in large numbers. In addition, probing seems to prove that Hauschilds was the first to publish the efforts of several of the music-loving Germans of the area. Most interesting, too, is that the spritely composition, the Cowboy Rag offered in 1904 possibly was the purcursor of this genre of popular music." taken from "The Cognoscenti Collections";

Buyer Pays Shipping and Handling - Minimum $ 5.00 in USA; Minimum $10.00 to Canada and Mexico; Minimum $15.00 to European & Pacific Rim countries; other As Agreed. Thank you. Email for additional information & scan. Serving Sheet music, Texana, transportation and travel collectors worldwide since 1971; please visit our many other auctions and store listings; I try to list 70 items per week.

HISTORICAL NOTE: ""God Bless America" is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918 & revised by him in 1938, as sung by Kate Smith (becoming her signature song). "God Bless America" takes the form of a prayer (intro lyrics "as we raise our voices, in a solemn prayer") for God's blessing & peace for the nation ("...stand beside her & guide her through the night..."). Berlin wrote the song in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, but decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank, so he set it aside. The lyrics at that time included the line, "Make her victorious on land & foam, God bless America..." as well as "Stand beside her & guide her, to the right with the light from above." Music critic Jody Rosen comments that a 1906 Jewish dialect novelty song, "When Mose with His Nose Leads the Band", contains a six-note fragment that is "instantly recognizable as the opening strains of "God Bless America"". He interprets this as an example of Berlin's "habit of interpolating bits of half-remembered songs into his own numbers." Berlin, born Israel Baline, had himself written several Jewish-themed novelty tunes. In 1938, with the rise of Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish, & a 1st-generation European immigrant, felt it was time to revive it as a "peace song", & it was introduced on an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938 sung by Kate Smith, on her radio show. Berlin had made some minor changes; by this time, "to the right" might have been considered a call to the political right, so he substituted "through the night" instead. He also provided an introduction that is now rarely heard but which Smith always used: "While the storm clouds gather far across the sea / Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free / Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, / As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer." More than just the dramatic words & melody, the arrangement for Kate Smith's performance was accompanied by full band, progressing into a grand march tempo, with trumpets triple reinforcing the harmonies between stanzas: the dramatic build-up ends on the final exposed high note, which Kate Smith sang in the solo as a sustained a cappella note, with the band then joining for the finale. The song was a hit; there was even a movement to make "God Bless America" the national anthem of the US. However, there was strong opposition by conservative southerners as well as conservatives who lived in rural areas where there were no Jews living in it, stating that because Irving Berlin was a foreigner & a Jew, that they would not accept their national anthem to be composed by a member of the minority class. Congress would have had to repeal the "Star Spangled Banner" in both houses by two-thirds of the votes. In 1943, Smith's rendition was featured in the patriotic musical "This is the Army" along with other Berlin songs. The manuscripts in the Library of Congress reveal the evolution of the song from victory to peace. Berlin gave the royalties of the song to the God Bless America Fund for Redistribution to the Boy Scouts of America & the Girl Scouts of the USA. She performed the song on her two NBC television series in the 1950s & in her short-lived The Kate Smith Show on CBS, which aired on CBS from January 25 to July 18, 1960. Woody Guthrie disliked the song, & wrote "This Land Is Your Land", originally titled "God Blessed America For Me", as a response to "God Bless America". Later, from December 11, 1969, through the early 1970s, the playing of Smith singing the song before many of home games of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers brought it renewed popularity (as well as a reputation for being a "good luck charm" to the Flyers), long before it became a staple of nationwide sporting events. The Flyers even brought Smith in to perform live before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974, & the Flyers won the Cup that day. To honor the start of the US Bicentennial, Kate Smith sang "God Bless America" for a national television audience, accompanied by the UCLA Band at the 1976 Rose Bowl. On August 26, 2008, a fan at a Boston Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium, who had attempted to leave for the restroom during the playing of the song, was restrained & ejected by NYPD officers. As part of the settlement of a subsequent lawsuit, the New York Yankees announced that they would no longer restrict the movement of fans during the playing of the song. At Chicago's Wrigley Field, during the Vietnam War, the song was often played by the organist as part of his post-game playlist, while fans filed out of the stadium. On September 15, 2009, three high school teens filed a lawsuit against New Jersey's minor league Newark Bears for being ejected from Eagles Riverfront Stadium over their refusal to stand during the playing of "God Bless America" on June 29, 2009. Before being ejected, they were asked to leave the stadium by Bears' president & co-owner Thomas Cetnar. Traditional lyrics: While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam God bless America, My home sweet home God bless America, My home sweet home. Originally, the final two lines of the song were, God bless America my own sweet home,/my home sweet home. "God Bless America" is often sung at sporting events, recitals, & other public events where national anthems are sung, sometimes in place of "The Star-Spangled Banner". During a live television broadcast on the evening of the September 11 attacks, following addresses by then-House & Senate leaders Dennis Hastert & Tom Daschle, members of the US Congress broke out into an apparently spontaneous verse of "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. "God Bless America" has been performed at home games of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers & those of the Ottawa Senators in which the visiting team is from the US. (The NHL requires arenas in both the U.S. & Canada to perform both "The Star-Spangled Banner" & "O Canada", the Canadian national anthem, at games that involve teams from both countries.) At some Flyers' home games, especially during big games & the playoffs, their main anthem singer, Lauren Hart has sung "God Bless America" alternating lyrics with Kate Smith on a video screen. Kate Smith actually appeared in person to sing at select Flyers games, including their 1974 Stanley Cup clinching game against the Boston Bruins, to which she received a thunderous ovation from the passionate Philadelphia fans. Before games whenever God Bless America is performed, Lou Nolan, the PA announcer for the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center would say: "Ladies & gentlemen, at this time, we ask that you please rise & remove your hats and salute to our flags & welcome the number 1 ranked anthemist in the NHL, Lauren Hart, as she sings (if the visiting team is from Canada, O Canada, followed by) God Bless America, accompanied by the great Kate Smith." At some Senators' home games since 2000–01, if the visiting team is from the U.S., their main anthem singer, Ontario Provincial Police Constable Lyndon Slewidge, has sung "God Bless America" & "O Canada." An example of this came during the Senators' home opener during the 2002-03 season, when they were home against the New Jersey Devils. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "God Bless America" has commonly been sung during the 7th-inning stretch in Sunday (as well as Opening Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, All-Star Game, Labor Day, September 11 & all post-season) Major League Baseball games. Following the attacks, John Dever, then the Assistant Media Relations Director with the San Diego Padres, suggested the song replace "Take me out to the Ball Game", the more traditional 7th inning anthem. MLB quickly followed the Padres lead & instituted it team wide. Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium & Safeco Field are currently the only Major League ballparks to play "God Bless America" in every game during the 7th-inning stretch. The Yankees' YES Network televises its performance during each game before going to a commercial. During major games (playoff contests, Opening Day/national holidays, or games against Boston or the Mets), the Yankees will often have Irish tenor Ronan Tynan perform the song, which has attracted some controversy as Tynan sings the entire song, including the prologue. The Indianapolis 500 is traditionally run at the end of the month of May, & has sung "God Bless America" since 2003. The song "America the Beautiful" was sung before, but it was switched to "God Bless America" in the post-9/11 era. The song has traditionally been performed by Florence Henderson, a native Hoosier, & is a friend of the track's owners the Hulman-George family. Her performance, often not televised, immediately precedes the national anthem. Henderson routinely sings the entire song, including the prologue, & in some years, sings the chorus a 2nd time. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canadian pop star Celine Dion performed the song on the TV special America: A Tribute to Heroes. Shortly afterwards on October 16, Sony Music Entertainment released a benefit album called God Bless America, which featured Dion singing the song. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 & became the 1st charity album to reach the top since USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in 1985. Céline Dion's version also received enough radio airplay to reach number 14 on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. The music video was made & aired in September 2001. Dion performed the song also few times during 2002. In 2003, she performed it at Super Bowl, which was the 1st time that "God Bless America" was performed at a Super Bowl. She sang it on July 4, 2004 in her A New Day... show as well. "God Bless America" performed by Dion exists in two versions, live & studio. Both included on collections to gather funds for the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, & their families. The live version, on America: A Tribute to Heroes, is from the telethon event of the same name that took place on September 21, 2001. The studio version is on the God Bless America album, a patriotic songs CD. It was recorded on September 20, 2001, the day before the American telethon. It was meant to be a replacement for the performance in the event something happened & Dion couldn't appear. The song was recorded by New York City's "singing cop", Daniel Rodríguez, & charted for one week at number 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 as a single. Before the 2001 versions, the last time "God Bless America" had been a Billboard chart hit was in 1959, when Connie Francis reached number 36 with her version (the B-side of her Top 10 hit "Among My Souvenirs"). In 1996 the King of Yiddish Music Leo Fuld recorded a Dutch version of the song as 'God zegen Nederland' (God Bless the Netherlands), that he presented & sang on April 30 to H.M. Queen Beatrix of Holland. In 2009, keyboardist Bob Baldwin covered the renowned song from his album "Lookin' Back." The song was sung by the main characters in Michael Cimino's 1978 war film The Deer Hunter. Regarding the song in the film, Roger Ebert says in his March 9, 1979 review: "It [the film] ends on a curious note: The singing of "God Bless America". I won't tell you how it arrives at that particular moment... but I do want to observe that the lyrics of "God Bless America" have never before seemed to me to contain such an infinity of possible meanings, some tragic, some unspeakably sad, some few still defiantly hopeful". The song is prominently featured in the film Once Upon a Time in America, where it is played during a murder at the beginning of the picture. In the "Flashback: Mike Meets Archie" episode of All in the Family from 1971, after Archie Bunker was disgusted with Mike "Meathead" Stivic's liberal viewpoints, Archie stood up & sang a butchered version of "God Bless America" while Mike was screaming at Archie. Charlie Daniels' 1980 single "In America" clearly plays off of the original "God Bless America". The song has spawned numerous parodies. An irreverent version of the lyrics was printed in the book The MAD World of William M. Gaines, by Frank Jacobs (1972). MAD magazine's veteran art editor, John Putnam, had prepared some copy & sent it to the printers; the word "America" was divided, with a hyphen, at the end of one line. The copy was returned to Putnam by the typesetting foreman, who explained that his union had a rule forbidding the splitting of that word. Putnam obliged, & rewrote the copy, & sent it back with this enclosure: Don't break "America"; Land we extol; Don't deface it; Upper-case it; Keep it clean, keep it pure, keep it whole; In Bodoni, in Futura, In Old English, in Cabell-- Don't break "America"-- Or we'll—raise—hell! A version called "God Bless My Underwear" is popular with schoolchildren at summer camps. "I am an Anglican" is sung as an Episcopal church camp song. A midwestern version refers to Lutherans, a mid-Atlantic one to Presbyterians. "God Bless America" spawned another of Irving Berlin's tunes, "Heaven Watch The Philippines", during the end of World War II, after he heard the Filipinos sang a slightly revised version of the song replacing "America" with "The Philippines". An earlier & much more obscure song called "God Bless America!" was written by Robert Montgomery Bird & published in 1834. Sheet music for this version is available online from the Library of Congress. The lyrics begin: God bless the land that gave us birth! No pray'r but this know we. God bless the land, of all the earth, The happy and the free. And where's the land like ours can brave The splendor of the day. And find no son of hers a slave? God bless America! God bless the land, the land beloved Forever and for aye! God bless the land that gave us birth. God bless America!";

HISTORICAL NOTE: "Irving Berlin (May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer & lyricist widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in history. His 1st hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", became world famous. The song sparked an international dance craze in places as far away as Russia, which also "flung itself into the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania." Over the years he was known for writing music & lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple & direct, with his aim being to "reach the heart of the average American" whom he saw as the "real soul of the country." He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him "a legend" before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows & 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes & anthems, including "Easter Parade", "White Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "This is the Army, Mr. Jones", & "There's No Business Like Show Business". His Broadway musical & 1942 film, This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin's "God Bless America" which was 1st performed in 1938. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Celine Dion recorded it as a tribute, making it #1 on the charts. Berlin's songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times & have been re-recorded countless times by singers including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Rita Reys, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, & Ella Fitzgerald. Composer Douglas Moore sets Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters, & includes him instead with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, & Carl Sandburg, as a "great American minstrel" – someone who has "caught & immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, & what we believe." Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived", & composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music - he is American music." Irving Berlin was born Israel Baline on May 11, 1888, one of eight children of Moses & Lena Lipkin Baline. His birthplace is Tyumen, Russian Empire. His father, a cantor in a Jewish synagogue, uprooted the family to America, as did many other Jewish families in late 19th century. In 1893 they settled in New York City. According to his biographer, Laurence Bergreen, as an adult Berlin admitted to no memories of his first five years in Russia except for one: "he was lying on a blanket by the side of a road, watching his house burn to the ground. By daylight the house was in ashes." Author and music historian Ian Whitcomb described Berlin's life in Russia: Life might have seemed irksome to Israel Baline: God was watching you everywhere. From the dawn bath to the night straw cot, everything was of religious significance. God was in the food & in the clothing. When Moses caught Israel pulling on his little shoes in a manner proscribed by the Talmud he beat him…The floor of the Baline hut-home was of hard black dirt. Outside, the squiggly streets of Temun were either mud or dust according to the season. Lining the squiggles were horrid wooden huts. Sometimes wild pigs would rage into town & bite children to death…It was not a setting to sing about…Instead, cantor Moses took his children to the synagogue where, in soothing sing-song readings from the Talmud, the cares of the day were eased away. Life in Temun sounds pretty awful but, in later years, Irving Berlin said he was unaware of being raised in abject poverty. He knew no other life & there was always hot food on the table, even if it was God-riddled. Whitcomb also describes further the turning point in Berlin's early life: But, suddenly one day, the Cossacks rampaged in on a pogrom... they simply burned it to the ground. Israel & his family watched from a distant road. Israel was wrapped in a warm feather quilt. Then they made a hasty exit. Knowing that they were breaking the law by leaving without a passport (Russia at that time was the only country requiring passports), the Balines smuggled themselves creepingly from town to town, from satellite to satellite, from sea to shining sea, until finally they reached their star: the Statue of Liberty. The new Tsar of Russia, notes Whitcomb, had revived with utmost brutality the anti-Jewish pogroms, which created the spontaneous mass exodus to America. The pogroms were to continue until 1906, & thousands of other families besides the Balines would also escape, including those of George & Ira Gershwin, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, L. Wolfe Gilbert ("Waiting for the Robert E. Lee"), Jack Yellen ("Happy Days Are Here Again"), & Louis B. Mayer (MGM). They eventually settled on Cherry Street, a "cold-water basement flat with no windows," on the Lower East Side. His father, unable to find comparable work as a cantor in New York, took a job at a Kosher meat market & gave Hebrew lessons on the side, & struggled to support his family. He died a few years later when Irving was eight years old. With only two years of schooling, he found it necessary to take to the streets to help support his family. He became a newspaper boy, hawking The Evening Journal. On his 1st day on the job, according to Berlin’s biographer & friend, Alexander Woollcott, the boy “stopped to look at a ship about to put out for China. So entranced was he that he failed to notice a swinging crane, & he was knocked into the river. When he was fished out, after going down for the 3rd time, he was still holding in his clenched fist the five pennies that constituted his 1st day's receipts, his contribution to the family budget.” His mother took jobs as a midwife, & three of his sisters worked wrapping cigars, common for immigrant girls. His older brother worked in a sweatshop assembling shirts. Each evening, when the family came home from their day's work, Bergreen writes, "they would deposit the coins they had earned that day into Lena's outspread apron." Music historian Philip Furia writes that when eight-year-old "Izzy" quit school to sell newspapers in the Bowery, he no doubt would "hear the hits of the day drift through the doors of saloons & restaurants" that lined the streets of New York. He found that if he sang some of the songs while selling papers, people would toss him coins in appreciation, which gave him a vision of things to come. One night to his mother, he "confessed his life's ambition—to become a singing waiter in a saloon." Before turning fourteen, according to Woollcott, he began to realize that "he contributed less than the least of his sisters...& he was sick with a sense of his own worthlessness." Bergreen writes that it was at this point that he left home to become a "foot soldier in the city's ragged army of immigrants." Berlin entered a lifestyle along the Bowery where an entire subindustry of lodging houses had sprung up to shelter the thousands of homeless boys choking the Lower East Side streets. "They were not settlement houses or charitable institutions; rather, they were Dickensian in their meanness, filth, & insensitivity to ordinary human beings." With few survival skills & little education, he realized that formal employment was out of the question. His only ability was acquired from his father's vocation: singing. He joined with a few other youngsters & went to saloons on the Bowery to sing to customers. These itinerant young singers, were common on the Lower East Side. He would sing a few of the popular ballads he heard on the street, hoping that customers would "pitch a few pennies in his direction." As Bergreen notes, "it was in these seamy surroundings that the runaway boy received his real & lasting education." Music became his sole source of income & he emerged culturally from the ghetto lifestyle, learning the "language of the street." To survive he began to recognize the kind of songs that appealed to audiences: "well-known tunes expressing simple sentiments were the most reliable." He began plugging songs at Tony Pastor's Music Hall in Union Square & finally, in 1906 when he was 18, working as a singing waiter at the Pelham Cafe in Chinatown. Besides serving drinks, he sang made-up "blue" parodies of hit songs to the delight of customers. Berlin biographer Charles Hamm writes that "in his free time he taught himself to play the piano." When the bar closed for the night, young Berlin would sit at a piano in the back & pick out tunes. His 1st attempt at songwriting was "Marie From Sunny Italy," written in collaboration with the Pelham's resident pianist, Mike Nicholson, & at the same time he began using the name Irving Berlin, being easier for others to remember. (Berlin never learned to play in more than one key & used a custom-made piano with a transposing lever to change keys.) Berlin admired the words to the songs but the rhythms were "kind of boggy". One night he delivered some hits by friend George M. Cohan, another kid who was getting known on Broadway with his own songs. When Berlin ended with Cohan's "Yankee Doodle Boy," notes Whichtomb, "everybody in the joint applauded the feisty little fellow. Some tarts said they felt proud to be American; a couple of thugs, who specialized in chewing off ears & breaking legs, gave Izzy the nod. And Connors, the saloon's Irish owner, said, 'You know what you are, me boy? You're the Yiddishe Yankee Doodle!'" Rudyard Kipling, living up the coast during that period, "was shocked & intrigued by the screeching squalor he found in the dirty gray tenement canyons of immigrant New York," writes Whitcomb. "He thought it worse than the notorious slums of Bombay. But he was impressed & moved by the Jews, noting the little immigrant boys saluting the Stars & Stripes." Kipling wrote, "For these immigrant Jews are a race that survives & thrives against all odds and flags." Max Winslow, a staff member at music publisher Harry Von Tilzer Company, noticed Berlin's singing on many occasions & became so taken with his talent that he tried to get him a job with his firm. Von Tilzer described an episode in his autobiography: Max Winslow came to me & said, "I have discovered a great kid, I would like to see you write some songs with." Max raved about him so much that I said, "Who is he?" He said a boy down on the east side by the name of Irving Berlin... I said, "Max, How can I write with him, you know I have got the best lyric writers in the country?" But Max would not stop boosting Berlin to me, & I want to say right here that Berlin can attribute a great deal of his success to Max Winslow." In 1908, at the age of 20, Berlin took a new job at a saloon in the Union Square neighborhood. There, he was able to collaborate with other young songwriters, such as Edgar Leslie, Ted Snyder, Al Piantadosi, & George A. Whiting, & in 1909, the year of the premiere of Israel Zangwill's The Melting Pot, he got his big break as a staff lyricist with the Ted Snyder Company. From this early position, Hamm writes, his "meteoric rise as a songwriter" in Tin Pan Alley & then on Broadway, began with his 1st world-famous hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band," in 1911. As a result of his instant notoriety, he was the feature performer later that year at Oscar Hammerstein's vaudeville house, where he introduced dozens of other songs to the audience. The New York Telegraph wrote a story about the event, reporting that a "delegation of two hundred of his friends from the pent & huddled East Side appeared... to see 'their boy.'" The news story added that "all the little writer could do was to finger the buttons on his coat while tears ran down his cheeks--in a vaudeville house!" Music historian Richard Corliss, wrote about the song in a Time magazine profile of Berlin in 2001: "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911). It was a march, not a rag, & its savviest musicality comprised quotes from a bugle call & "Swanee River". But the tune, which revived the ragtime fervor that Scott Joplin had stoked a decade earlier, made Berlin a songwriting star. On its 1st release & subsequent releases, the song was consistently near the top of the charts: Bessie Smith, in 1927, & Louis Armstrong, in 1937; # 1 by Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell; Al Jolson, in 1947. Johnny Mercer in 1945, & Nellie Lutcher in 1948. Add Ray Charles's big-band version in 1959, & "Alexander" had a dozen hit versions in a bit under a half century. Despite its success, the song was not initially recognized as a hit: at a private audition of the song to Broadway producer Jesse Lasky, Lasky’s response was uncertain, although he did put it in his “Folies” show. After a number of performances as an instrumental, the song did not impress audiences, & was soon dropped from the show’s score, causing Berlin to regard it as a “dead failure.” But later that year, after writing lyrics to the music, it played again in another Broadway Review, & Variety news weekly proclaimed the song "the musical sensation of the decade." Composer George Gershwin, foreseeing its influence, said, "The 1st real American musical work is "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Berlin had shown us the way; it was now easier to attain our ideal." Berlin was "flabbergasted," by the sudden international popularity of the song, & began to ask himself "Why? Why?" Berlin later wrote, "& I got an answer. The melody... started the heels & shoulders of all America & a good section of Europe to rocking. The lyric, silly though it was, was fundamentally right." Quotes- Irving Berlin once said, "Talent is only a starting point." He meant that, although he undisputably had talent, he would never have become famous if he hadn't made something of his talent. Furia writes that the international success of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" gave ragtime "new life & sparked a national dance craze." Two dancers who expressed that craze were Irene & Vernon Castle. In 1914, Berlin wrote a ragtime revue, "Watch Your Step," which starred the couple & showcased their talents on stage. That musical revue became Berlin's 1st complete score & Furia notes that "its songs radiated musical & lyrical sophistication." Berlin's ragtime songs, he adds, had "quickly come to signify modernism, & Berlin caught the cultural struggle between Victorian gentility & the purveyors of liberation, indulgence, & leisure with songs such as "Play a Simple Melody." That particular song, according to Furia, also became the 1st of his famous "double" songs in which two different melodies & lyrics are counterpointed against one another. Variety called it "The 1st Syncopated Musical," where the "sets & the girls were gorgeous." But most of the success or otherwise of the show was riding on the Berlin name, according to Whitcomb. He notes that Variety... marked the show as a "terrific hit" from opening night alone: Irving Berlin stands out like the Times building does in the Square. That youthful marvel of syncopated melody is proving things in 'Watch Your Step', 1stly that he is not alone a rag composer, & that he is one of the greatest lyric writers America has ever produced.... Besides rags Berlin wrote a polka that was very pretty, & he intermingled ballads with trots, which, including the grand opera medley, gives 'Watch Your Step' all the kind of music there is. Whitcomb also points out the irony that Russia, the country Berlin's family was forced to leave, flung itself into "the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania": ... like a display of medieval religious frenzy; some seemed to be doing a dance of death. Lady Diana Manners, at a London ball reviving the Age of Chivalry, was escorted by Prince Felix Yusupov. This young man, a recent Oxford undergraduate, had an impeccable Russian noble lineage: a descendant of Frederick of Prussia, he was heir to the largest estate in Russia, he would be richer than the Tsar. He was exquisite & heavily bejewelled, but Lady Diana was irritated by his 'wriggling around the ballroom like a demented worm, screaming for 'more ragtime & more champagne'. Lady Diana Manners was apparently not alone in her dislike of ragtime. A newspaper clipping found in Berlin's scrapbook included an article titled, "Calls Ragtime Insanity Sign": "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is a public menace.... The authority for these statements is Dr. Ludwig Gruener of Berlin, a German [doctor] who has devoted twenty years' study to the criminally insane.... He says, 'Hysteria is the form of insanity that an abnormal love for ragtime seems to produce. It is as much a mental disease as acute mania—it has the same symptoms. When there is nothing done to check this form it produces idiocy'. He also stated that 90 percent of the inmates of the American asylums he has visited are abnormally fond of ragtime. In future years he made every effort to write lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple & direct, once stating: My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American, not the highbrow nor the lowbrow but that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country. The highbrow is likely to be superficial, overtrained, supersensitive. The lowbrow is warped, subnormal. My public is the real people. Berlin also created songs out of his own sadness. In 1912, he married Dorothy Goetz, the sister of songwriter E. Ray Goetz. She died six months later of typhoid fever contracted during their honeymoon in Havana. The song he wrote to express his grief, "When I Lost You," was his 1st ballad. It was an immediate popular hit & sold more than a million copies. In 1916, he collaborated with Victor Herbert on the score of "The Century Girl." He began to realize that the slang of ragtime would be an "inappropriate idiom for serious romantic expression," & over the next few years would begin to adapt his style by writing more love songs. In 1915 he wrote the hit, "I Love a Piano," which was an erotic, but comical, ragtime love song. By 1918 he had written hundreds of songs, mostly topical, which enjoyed brief popularity. Many of the songs were for the new dances then appearing, such as the "grizzly bear," "chicken walk," or fox trot. After a Hawaiian dance craze began, he wrote "That Hula-Hula," & then did a string of southern songs, such as "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam." During this period he was creating a few new songs every week, including numerous rags & songs aimed at the various immigrant cultures arriving from Europe. Furia tells of a train trip Berlin was on where he decided to entertain the fellow passengers. Later on they asked him how he knew so many hit songs, & Berlin would modestly reply, "I wrote them." One of the key songs that Berlin wrote in his transition from ragtime to lyrical ballads was "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," which was considered one of Berlin's "1st big guns," according to historian Alec Wilder. The song was written for Ziegfeld's Follies of 1919 & became the musical's leading song. Its popularity was so great that it became the theme for all of Ziegfeld's revues, & later the theme song in the 1936 film The Great Ziegfeld (Watch). Wilder puts it "on a level with Jerome Kern's "pure melodies," & in comparison with Berlin's earlier music, finds it "extraordinary that such a development in style & sophistication should have taken place in a single year." On 1 April 1917 President Woodrow Wilson declared that America would enter World War I, &, as Whitcomb writes: The beleaguered Allies would be rescued from the evil Central Powers by a noble American game-plan & a barrel of morals.... The whistle was blown, the game was on. There must be no shirkers or doubters in the team. Americans must pull together as one man or else. Said President Wilson: 'Woe to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way in this day of high resolution!' Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, &, especially, German-Americans, must now be plain, straight-ahead Americans. Tin Pan Alley would do its duty & support the slogan at the time that "Music is essential to win the war." Berlin joined the effort & wrote, "For Your Country & My Country," adding "we must speak with the sword not the pen to show our appreciation to America for opening up her heart & welcoming every immigrant group." He then joined with George Meyer & his old colleague Edgar Leslie in a song that demanded an end to ethnicity: "Let's All Be Americans Now." In 1917 Berlin was drafted into the army, & the news of his induction became headline news: "Army Takes Berlin!" one paper read. However, the army only wanted Berlin, now aged 30, to do what he knew best: to write songs of patriotism. Hence, while stationed at Camp Upton in New York, he composed an all-soldier musical revue titled "Yip Yip Yaphank," written to be patriotic tribute to the US Army. By the following summer the show was taken to Broadway where it also included a number of hits, including "Mandy" & "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," which he performed himself. The shows earned $150,000 for a camp service center. One song he wrote for the show but decided not use, he would introduce twenty years later: "God Bless America." According to Whitcomb, "at the grand finale, General Bell made a thank-you speech from his box, while Sergeant Berlin, on stage, declined to utter a word. Then, under orders from the War Department, Sergeant Berlin led the entire 300-person cast off the stage, marching them down the theater's aisles, singing 'We're on Our Way to France,' all to tumultuous applause. The cast carried off their little producer like he was victor ludorum." Berlin's mother, having seen her son perform for the 1st (& last) time in her life, was shocked. The soldier-actors continued out into the downtown street & up the plank to the waiting troop carrier. "Tin Pan Alley had joined hands with real life," writes Whitcomb. Berlin returned to Tin Pan Alley after the war & in 1921 created a partnership with Sam Harris to build the Music Box Theater. He maintained an interest in the theater throughout his life, & even in his last years was known to call the Shubert Organization, his partner, to check on the receipts. In its early years, the theater was a showcase for revues by Berlin. As theater owner, producer & composer, he looked after every detail of his shows, from the costumes & sets to the casting & musical arrangements. According to Berlin biographer David Leopold, the theater, located at 239 West 45th St., was the only Broadway house built to accommodate the works of a songwriter. It was the home of Berlin's "Music Box Revue" from 1921 to 1925 & "As Thousands Cheer" in 1933 & today includes an exhibition devoted to Berlin in the lobby. By 1926, Berlin had written the scores to two editions of the Ziegfeld Follies & four "Music Box Revues." Life magazine called him the "Lullaby Kid," noting that "couples at country-club dances grew misty-eyed when the band went into "Always," because they were positive that Berlin had written it just for them. When they quarreled & parted in the crepuscular bitter-sweetness of the 1920s, it was Berlin who gave eloquence to their heartbreak by way of "What'll I Do" & "Remember" & "All Alone." "What'll I Do?", 1924: This ballad of love & longing, was a #1 hit for Paul Whiteman & had five other top-12 renditions in 1924. Twenty-four years later the song went to #22 for Nat Cole & #23 for Frank Sinatra. "Always" (1925): Written when he fell in love with Ellin Mackay who later became his wife. The song became two #1's (for Vincent Lopez & George Olsen) in its 1st incarnation. There were four more hit versions in 1944-45. In 1959 Sammy Turner took the song to #2 on the R&B chart. It became Patsy Cline's postmortem anthem & hit #18 on the country chart in 1980, 17 years after her death, & a tribute musical called "Patsy Cline ... Always," played a two-year Nashville run that ended in 1995. Blue Skies" (1926): Written after his 1st daughter's birth as a song just for her. In it he distilled his feelings about being married & a father for the 1st time: "Blue days, all of them gone; nothing but blue skies, from now on." #1 for Ben Selvin with five other hits in 1927, besides being the 1st song performed by Al Jolson in the 1st feature sound film, "The Jazz Singer that same year." In 1946 it returned to the top 10 on the charts with Count Basie & Benny Goodman. In 1978, Willie Nelson made the song a #1 country hit — 52 years after it was written. "Marie" (1929): A waltz-time hit became #2 by Rudy Vallee & in 1937 reached #1 with Tommy Dorsey. It was again in the charts in 1953 & a #15 for the Bachelors in 1965 – 36 years after its 1st appearance. "Puttin' on the Ritz" (1930): An instant standard with one of Berlin's most "intricately syncopated choruses," is associated with Fred Astaire, who danced to it in the 1946 film "Blue Skies." It was 1st sung by Harry Richman in 1930 & became a #1 hit, & in 1939 Clark Gable sang it in the movie "Idiot's Delight." "Say It Isn't So" (1932): Rudy Vallee performed it on his radio show & the song, it was a #1 hit for George Olsen & awarded top-10 positions with versions by Connee Boswell & Ozzie Nelson's band. In 1963 Aretha Franklin produced a single of the song in 1963 – 31 years later. Furia notes that when Rudy Vallee 1st introduced the song on his radio show, the "song not only became an overnight hit, it saved Vallee's marriage: The Vallees had planned to get a divorce, but after Vallee sang Berlin's romantic lyrics on the air, "both he & his wife dissolved in tears" & decided to stay together. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" (1937): Performed by Dick Powell in the 1937 film "On the Avenue." Later it had four top-12 versions, including Billie Holiday, & Les Brown, who took it to #1. "God Bless America" (1938): Written by Berlin twenty years earlier, he filed it away until 1938, when Kate Smith's manager asked Berlin if he had a patriotic song Smith might sing to mark the 20th anniversary of Armistice Day. It was "a simple plea for divine protection in a dark time — a plangent anthem in just 40 words," writes Corliss. It quickly became the 2nd National Anthem after America entered World War II, & over the decades, has earned millions for the Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts, to whom Berlin assigned all royalties. The phrase "God Bless America" was taken from Berlin's mother: While he was growing up on the Lower East Side, she would say "God bless America" often, to indicate that, without America, her family would have had no place to go. The Economist magazine wrote that by writing "God Bless America", Berlin was "producing a deep-felt paean to the country that had given him what he would have said was everything. It is a melody that still makes his fellow countrymen want to stand up & place their hands over their hearts." On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, U.S. Senators & Congressmen stood on the Capitol steps & sang it after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Two nights later, when Broadway turned its lights back on, the casts of numerous shows led theatergoers in renditions of the same song. Richard Corliss notes that the next day, at an official requiem at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., it was played by the U.S. Army Orchestra. The following Monday, to mark the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange, New York Governor George Pataki & Mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined traders in singing it. That evening, as major league baseball games resumed around the country it replaced "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as the theme song of the 7th-inning stretch. Over the following weeks, everyone — Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, New York City Police Department officer Daniel Rodriguez, the whole country — sang "God Bless America." Describing the mood at the time & the significance of the song, Corliss wrote in Time magazine that December: In times of crisis, the nation loses its short-term cultural memory — puts aside idiot movie comics, suicidal rock lyrics, must-see reality TV & the pursuit of the moral triviality that is Gary Condit — &, like a senior citizen finding solace in the distant past, rekindles that old feeling. In pop culture, at least for a while, many Americans traded in cool pop culture for warm, sarcasm for sentiment, alienation for community. In the blink of a national tragedy, we went from jaded to nice, just like that. The popularity of the song, when it was 1st introduced in 1938, was also related to its release near the end of the Depression which had gone on for nine years. As a result, one writer concludes that the song's introduction at that time "enshrines a strain of official patriotism intertwined with a religious faith that runs deep in the American psyche. Patriotic razzle-dazzle, sophisticated melancholy & humble sentiments: Berlin songs span the emotional terrain of America with a thoroughness that others may have equaled but none have surpassed." The song has also been adopted by various sports teams over the years. The Philadelphia Flyers hockey team started playing it before crucial contests, & won some 80% of those games – including all three when Kate Smith arrived to sing it in person. "Many credited Smith for lifting the crowd & the team to new heights," notes columnist John Bacon. When the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team pulled off the "greatest upset in sports history," referred to as the "Miracle on Ice," the players spontaneously broke into a chorus – not of "The Star Spangled Banner," but "God Bless America," with ESPN TV noting, "Americans were overcome by patriotism." Though most of his works for the Broadway stage took the form of revues — collections of songs with no unifying plot — he did write a number of book shows. The Cocoanuts (1925) was a light comedy, with a cast featuring, among others, the Marx Brothers. Face the Music (1932) was a political satire with a book by Moss Hart, & Louisiana Purchase (1940) was a satire of a Southern politician, obviously based on the exploits of Huey Long. As Thousands Cheer (1933) was a revue, also with book by Moss Hart, with a theme: each number was presented as an item in a newspaper, some of them touching on issues of the day. The show yielded a succession of hit songs, including "Easter Parade", "Heat Wave" (presented as the weather forecast), "Harlem on My Mind", & "Supper Time", a song about racial bigotry that was sung by Ethel Waters. "This is the Army" (1943): When the U.S. joined World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, Berlin immediately began composing a number of patriotic songs. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau requested a song to inspire Americans to buy war bonds, for which he wrote "Any Bonds Today?" He assigned all royalties to the US Treasury Department. He then wrote songs for various government agencies & likewise assigned all profits to them: "Angels of Mercy" for the American Red Cross; "Arms for the Love of America," for the Army Ordnance Department; & "I Paid My Taxes Today," again to Treasury. But his most notable & valuable contribution to the war effort was a stage show he wrote called "This is the Army." It was taken to Broadway & then on to Washington, D.C. (where President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended). It was eventually shown at military bases throughout the world, including London, North Africa, Italy, Middle East, & Pacific countries, sometimes in close proximity to battle zones. Berlin wrote nearly three dozen songs for the show which contained a cast of 300 men. He supervised the production & traveled with it, always singing "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." The show kept him away from his family for three & a half years, during which time he took neither salary nor expenses, & turned over all profits to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The play was adapted into a movie of the same name in 1943, directed by Michael Curtiz, costarring Ronald Reagan, who was then an army lieutenant. Kate Smith also sang "God Bless America" in the film with a backdrop showing families anxious over the coming war. The show became a hit movie & a morale-boosting road show that toured the battlefronts of Europe. The shows & movie combined raised more than $10 million for the Army, & in recognition of his contributions to troop morale he was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry S. Truman. His daughter, Mary Ellin Barrett, who was 15 when she was at the opening-night performance of "This is the Army" on Broadway, remembered that when her father, who normally shunned the spotlight, appeared in the 2nd act in soldier's garb to sing "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," he was greeted with a standing ovation that lasted 10 minutes. She adds that he was in his mid-50's at the time, & later declared those years with the show were the "most thrilling time of his life." "Annie Get Your Gun" (1946): After returning home from three & a half years on the road doing "This is the Army," he was exhausted, & being fifty-eight years old, in need of rest. But his old & close friend Jerome Kern, who was the composer for "Annie Get Your Gun," suddenly died of a heart attack. Producers Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II persuaded Berlin to take over composing the score. Loosely based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley, the music & lyrics were written by Berlin, with a book by Herbert Fields & his sister Dorothy Fields. At 1st he refused to take on the job, claiming that he knew nothing about "hillbilly music", but the show ran for 1,147 performances & became his most successful score. It is said that the showstopper song, "There's No Business Like Show Business", was almost left out of the show altogether because Berlin mistakenly thought that Rodgers & Hammerstein didn't like it. However, it became the "ultimate uptempo show tune." One reviewer stating that "Its tough wisecracking lyrics are as tersely all-knowing as its melody, which is nailed down in brassy syncopated lines that have been copied -but never equaled in sheer melodic memorability - by hundreds of theater composers ever since." McCorkle writes that the score "meant more to me than ever, now that I knew that he wrote it after a grueling world tour & years of separation from his wife & daughters." Historian & composer Alec Wilder noted the difference between this score & Berlin's much earlier works: To hear... that "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911) was the hit of Vienna & probably every large city of Europe by late 1912, & then to realize that the writer of this song, forty years later, wrote the nearly perfect score of Annie Get Your Gun, comes as a profound shock. Apparently the "creative spurt" in which Berlin turned out several songs for the score in a single weekend was an anomaly. According to this daughter, he usually "sweated blood" to write his songs. Annie Get Your Gun is considered to be Berlin's best musical theatre score not only because of the number of hits it contains, but because its songs successfully combine character & plot development. The song "There's No Business Like Show Business" became "Ethel Merman's trademark." Berlin's next show, Miss Liberty (1949), was disappointing, but Call Me Madam in 1950, starring Ethel Merman as Sally Adams, a Washington, D.C. socialite, loosely based the famous Washington hostess Perle Mesta, fared better, giving him his 2nd greatest success. After a failed attempt at retirement, in 1962, at the age of 74, he returned to Broadway with Mr. President. Although it ran for eight months, (with the premiere attended by Democratic President John F. Kennedy,) it did not become a successful show. But as Richard Corliss points out, it did at least prove that Berlin was still the "uncomplicated lover of the country that had adopted & enriched him . . . [&] his feelings were most directly expressed" by the lyrics to the song, "This Is a Great Country:" Hats off to America, The home of the free and the brave — If this is flag waving, Flag waving, Do you know of a better flag to wave? Berlin subsequently retired from songwriting & spent his remaining years in New York City. In 1922, Madame Butterfly was his 1st composing film debut. In 1927, his song "Blue Skies", was featured in the 1st feature-length talkie, The Jazz Singer, with Al Jolson. Later, movies like Top Hat (1935) became the 1st of a series of distinctive film musicals by Berlin starring performers like Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, & Alice Faye). They usually had light romantic plots & a seemingly endless string of his new & old songs. Similar films included On the Avenue (1937), Gold Diggers in Paris (1938), Holiday Inn (1942), Blue Skies (1946), & Easter Parade (1948), with Judy Garland & Fred Astaire. The 1942 film Holiday Inn introduced "White Christmas", one of the most-recorded songs in history. First sung in the film by Bing Crosby, it sold over 30 million records & stayed #1 on the pop & R&B charts for 10 weeks. Crosby's single was the best-selling single in any music category for more than fifty years. Music critic Stephen Holden credits this partly to the fact that "the song also evokes a primal nostalgia - a pure childlike longing for roots, home & childhood - that goes way beyond the greeting imagery." Richard Corliss also notes that the song was even more significant having been released soon after America entered World War II: [it] "connected with . . . GIs in their 1st winter away from home. To them it voiced the ache of separation & the wistfulness they felt for the girl back home, for the innocence of youth . . ." Poet Carl Sandburg said that "Way down under this latest hit of his, Irving Berlin catches us where we love peace." "White Christmas" won Berlin the Academy Award for Best Music in an Original Song, one of seven Oscar nominations he received during his career. In subsequent years, it was re-recorded & became a top-10 seller for numerous artists: Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Ernest Tubb, The Ravens, & The Drifters. It would also be the last time a Berlin song went to #1 upon its release. Talking about Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", composer–lyricist Garrison Hintz stated that although songwriting can be a complicated process its final result should sound simplistic. Considering the fact that "White Christmas" has only eight sentences in the entire song, lyrically Mr. Berlin achieved all that was necessary to eventually sell over 100 million copies & capture the hearts of the American public at the same time. According to Saul Bornstein, Berlin's publishing company manager, "it was a ritual for Berlin to write a complete song, words & music, every day. Berlin has said that he "does not believe in inspiration," & feels that although he may be gifted in certain areas, his "most successful compositions were the "result of work." In an interview in 1916, when he was 28, he said: I do most of my work under pressure. When I have a song to write I go home at night, & after dinner about 8 I begin to work. Sometimes I keep at it till 4 or 5 in the morning. I do most of my writing at night, & although I have lived in the same apartment four years there has never been a complaint from any of my neighbors.... Each day I would attend rehearsals & at night write another song & bring it down the next day. Not always certain about his own writing abilities, he once asked a songwriter friend, Mr. Herbert, whether he should study composition. "You have a natural gift for words & music," Mr. Herbert told him. "Learning theory might help you a little, but it could cramp your style." Berlin took his advice. Herbert later became a moving force behind the creation of Ascap, the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers. In 1914, Berlin joined him as a charter member of the organization that has protected the royalties of composers & writers ever since. Years later, he was asked whether he ever studied lyrical writing: I never have, because if I don't know them I do not have to observe any rules & can do as I like, which is much better for me than if I allowed myself to be governed by the rules of versification. In following my own method I can make my jingles fit my music or vice versa with no qualms as to their correctness. Usually I compose my tunes & then fit words to them, though sometimes it's the other way about. In later years he would emphasize his conviction, saying that "it's the lyric that makes a song a hit, although the tune, of course, is what makes it last." According to music historian Alec Wilder, it was well known that Berlin, unable to write his own music, paid a professional musician to harmonize & write his music, but always did so under his close supervision. He notes that "though Berlin may seldom have played acceptable harmony, he nevertheless, by some mastery of his inner ear, senses it, in fact writes many of his melodies with this natural, intuitive harmonic sense at work in his head, but not in his hands." As a result, Wilder concludes that many admirers of the music of Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, & Cole Porter were unlikely to consider Berlin's work in the same category. But he feels that was due primarily to "forgetfulness & confusion," making them inclined to minimize his talent. He writes: They forget "Soft Lights & Sweet Music,' 'Supper Time,' & 'Cheek to Cheek' because they are confused by his also having written 'What'll I Do?' & 'Always.' The solid, straightforward pop songs of Berlin are minor masterpieces of economy, clarity, & memorability. But they give little hint of the much more sophisticated aspects of his talent as it is revealed in his theater & film music. Wilder tries to describe the source of Berlin's gift for songwriting: "In his lyrics as in his melodies, Berlin reveals a constant awareness of the world around him: the pulse of the times, the society in which his is functioning. There is nothing of the hothouse about his work, urban though it may be." Music critic Stephen Holden writes that composer Jerome Kern recognized that the essence of Irving Berlin's lyrics was his "faith in the American vernacular" & was so profound that his best-known songs "seem indivisible from the country's history & self-image." He adds that where the songs of Kern, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers & Cole Porter brought together Afro-American, Latin American, rural pop, & European operetta, Berlin's music "did not strive to be lofty in that way." He adds that "The best of it is a simple, exquisitely crafted street song whose diction feels so natural that one scarcely notices the craft.... For all of their innovation, they seem to flow straight out of the rhythms & inflections of everyday speech." Wilder also explains Berlin's style of writing: Whatever idealism some of his songs revealed, the core of his work has been eminently practical: his has been truly a body of work... his approach to songwriting is that of a craftsman rather than a composer.... I have been searching assiduously for stylistic characteristics in Berlin, but I can't find any. I find great songs, good songs, average songs, & commercial songs. But I find no clue to a single, or even duple, point of view in the music. Berlin did state a stylistic goal early in his career: to write a "syncopated operetta." He said, "If I were assigned the task of writing an American opera I should not follow the style of the masters, whose melodies can never be surpassed. Instead I would write a syncopated opera, which, if it failed, would at least possess the merit of novelty. That is what I really want to do eventually - write a syncopated operetta." Two decades later, composer George Gershwin wrote, "I have learned many things from Irving Berlin, but the most precious lesson has been that ragtime—or jazz, as its more developed state was later called—was the only musical idiom in existence that could aptly express America." Many musicians & music historians have attempted to define the qualities about Berlin's songs that made them unique. Gershwin once tried: His music has that vitality - both rhythmic & melodic - which never seems to lose any of its exuberant freshness; it has that rich, colorful melodic flow which is ever the wonder of all those of who, too, compose songs; his ideas are endless. Among Berlin's contemporaries was Cole Porter, whose music style was often considered more "witty, sophisticated, [&] dirty," according to musicologist Susannah McCorkle. Of the five top songwriters, only Porter & Berlin wrote both their words & music. However, she notes that Porter, unlike Berlin, was a Yale-educated & wealthy Midwesterner whose songs were not successful until he was in his thirties. However, she notes that it was "Berlin [who] got Porter the show that launched his career." During the early 1940s, Berlin became an enthusiastic reader of works by the 18th century English poet, Alexander Pope. He had a genuine "enthusiasm for Pope's lean, compact heroic couplets." He felt that Pope would have made a "brilliant lyric writer." In 1912, he married Dorothy Goetz, the sister of the songwriter E. Ray Goetz. She died six months later of typhoid fever, which she contracted during their honeymoon in Havana. The song he wrote to express his grief, "When I Lost You," was his 1st ballad. Years later in the 1920s, he fell in love with a young heiress, Ellin Mackay, the daughter of Clarence Mackay, the socially prominent head of the Postal Telegraph Cable Company. Because Berlin was Jewish & she was Catholic, their life was followed in every possible detail by the press, which found the romance of an immigrant from the Lower East Side & a young heiress a good story. They met in 1925, & her father opposed the match from the start. He went so far as to send her off to Europe to find other suitors & forget Mr. Berlin. However, Berlin wooed her over the airwaves with his songs, "Remember" & "Always." His biographer, Philip Furia, writes that "even before Ellin returned from Europe, newspapers rumored they were engaged, & Broadway shows featured skits of the lovelorn songwriter...." During the week after her return, both she & Berlin were "besieged by reporters, sometimes fifty at a time." Variety reported that her father had vowed their marriage "would only happen 'over my dead body.'" As a result they decided to elope & were married in a simple civil ceremony at the Municipal Building away from media attention. A front-page story in the New York Times about the wedding stated, "Although Broadway for months had expected the one-time newsboy & Bowery singer of songs to wed the prominent young society girl... the marriage took Clarence H. Mackay, father of the bride, completely by surprise. He was reported to have been stunned when he learned from a 3rd person of the Municipal Building ceremony." However, the bride's mother, who was divorced from Mr. Mackay, was apparently not of the same mind according to the story: "in fact, some quarters pictured her as desirous of seeing her daughter follow the dictates of her own heart. It was reported that the couple motored to the home of Mrs. Blake [her mother], early in the evening & obtained her blessing." There were also reports that her father disowned his daughter because of the marriage. Berlin then assigned all rights to a number of popular songs, including "Always," a song still played at weddings, thereby guaranteeing her a steady income regardless of what might happen with their marriage. For some years, Mr. Mackay was not on speaking terms with the Berlins; however, during the Depression five years later, Berlin is said to have bailed out his father-in-law when he suffered due to the stock market crash. Their marriage remained a love affair & they were inseparable until she died in July 1988 at the age of 85. They had four children during their 63 years of marriage: Irving, who died in infancy; Mary Ellin Barrett & Elizabeth Irving Peters of New York, & Linda Louise Emmett, who lived in Paris. In 1916, in the earlier phase of Berlin's career, producer & composer George M. Cohan, during a toast to the young Berlin at a Friar's Club dinner in his honor, described Berlin: The thing I like about Irvie is that although he has moved up-town & made lots of money, it hasn't turned his head. He hasn't forgotten his friends, he doesn't wear funny clothes, & you will find his watch & his handkerchief in his pockets, where they belong. It has been noted by Furia, that "throughout his life he had a habit of returning to his old haunts in Union Square, Chinatown, & the Bowery, a habit easily indulged in a city where no matter how far up-or down-the ladder of success you had climbed, you could reach your antipodes by walking a few blocks." Berlin would always remember his childhood years when he "slept under tenement steps, ate scraps, & wore 2ndhand clothes," describing those years as hard but good. "Every man should have a Lower East Side in his life," he said. He used to visit The Music Box Theater which he founded & which still stands at 239 West Forty-Fifth St. George Frazier of Life magazine found Berlin to be "intensely nervous," with a habit of tapping his listener with his index finger to emphasize a point, & continually pressing his hair down in back & "picking up any stray crumbs left on a table after a meal." While listening, "he leans forward tensely, with his hands clasped below his knees like a prizefighter waiting in his corner for the bell.... For a man who has known so much glory," writes Frazier, "Berlin has somehow managed to retain the enthusiasm of a novice." Berlin's daughter later wrote in her memoir that "she found her father a loving, if workaholic, family man who was 'basically an upbeat person, with down periods,' until his last decades, when he retreated from public life...." She adds that her parents liked to celebrate every single holiday with their children. "They seemed to understand the importance, particularly in childhood, of the special day, the same every year, the special stories, foods, & decorations and that special sense of well-being that accompanies a holiday." A political conservative, Berlin supported the presidential candidacy of General Dwight Eisenhower, & his song "I Like Ike" featured prominently in the Eisenhower campaign. In his later years he also became more conservative in his views on music. According to his daughter, "He was consumed by patriotism." He often said, "I owe all my success to my adopted country," & once rejected his lawyers' advice to invest in tax shelters, insisting, "I want to pay taxes. I love this country." Berlin died in his sleep on September 22, 1989, in New York City at the age of 101 & was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. He was survived by three daughters: Mary Ellin Barrett & Elizabeth Irving Peters of New York, & Linda Louise Emmet, who lives in Paris. He is also survived by nine grandchildren. On the evening following the announcement of his death, the marquee lights of Broadway playhouses were dimmed before curtain time in his memory. President George H. W. Bush said Mr. Berlin was "a legendary man whose words & music will help define the history of our nation." Just minutes before the President's statement was released, he joined a crowd of thousands to sing Berlin's "God Bless America" at a luncheon in Boston. Former President Ronald Reagan, who costarred in Berlin's 1943 musical This Is the Army, said, "Nancy & I are deeply saddened by the death of a wonderfully talented man whose musical genius delighted & stirred millions and will live on forever." Morton Gould, the composer & conductor who is president of ASCAP, of which Mr. Berlin was a founder, said, "What to me is fascinating about this unique genius is that he touched so many people in so many age groups over so many years. He sounded our deepest feelings - happiness, sadness, celebration, loneliness." Ginger Rogers, who danced to Berlin tunes with Fred Astaire, told The Associated Press upon hearing of his death that working with Mr. Berlin had been "like heaven." The New York Times, after his death in 1989, wrote, "Irving Berlin set the tone & the tempo for the tunes America played & sang & danced to for much of the 20th century." An immigrant from Russia, his life became the "classic rags-to-riches story that he never forgot could have happened only in America." During his career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, & was a legend by the time he turned 30. He went on to write the scores for 19 Broadway shows & 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated for Academy Awards on eight occasions. Music historian Susannah McCorkle writes that "in scope, quantity, & quality his work was amazing." During his six-decade career, from 1907 to 1966, he produced sheet music, Broadway shows, recordings, & scores played on radio, in films & on television, & his tunes continue to evoke powerful emotions for millions around the world. He wrote songs like "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Cheek to Cheek", "There's No Business Like Show Business", "Blue Skies" & "Puttin' On the Ritz." Some of his songs have become holiday anthems, such as "Easter Parade," "White Christmas," & "Happy Holiday." "White Christmas" alone sold over 50 million records, won an ASCAP & an Academy Award, & is one of the most frequently played songs ever written. In 1938 "God Bless America" became the unofficial national anthem of the US, & on September 11, 2001, members of the House of Representatives stood on the steps of the Capitol & solemnly sang "God Bless America" together. The song returned to #1 shortly after 9/11, when Celine Dion recorded it as the title track of a 9/11 benefit album. The following year, the Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp of Berlin. By then, the Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts of New York had received more than $10 million in royalties from "God Bless America" as a result of Berlin's donation of royalties. According to music historian Gary Giddins, "No other songwriter has written as many anthems.... No one else has written as many pop songs, period... his gift for economy, directness, & slang, presents Berlin as an obsessive, often despairing commentator on the passing scene." In 1934 Life Magazine put him on its cover, & inside hailed "this itinerant son of a Russian cantor" as "an American institution." And again in 1943 Life described his songs, They possess a permanence not generally associated with Tin Pan Alley products & it is more than remotely possible that in days to come Berlin will be looked upon as the Stephen Foster of the 20th century. At various times his songs were also rallying cries for different causes: he produced musical editorials supporting Al Smith & Dwight Eisenhower as presidential candidates; he wrote songs opposing Prohibition; defending the gold standard; calming the wounds of the Great Depression; helping the war against Hitler; & in 1950 wrote an anthem for the state of Israel. Biographer David Leopold adds that "We all know his songs... they are all part of who we are." At his 100th-birthday celebration in May 1988, violinist Isaac Stern said, "the career of Irving Berlin & American music were intertwined forever - American music was born at his piano," while songwriter Sammy Cahn pointed out that "If a man, in a lifetime of 50 years, can point to six songs that are immediately identifiable, he has achieved something. Irving Berlin can sing 60 that are immediately identifiable... you couldn't have a holiday without his permission." Composer Douglas Moore added: It's a rare gift which sets Irving Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters. It is a gift which qualifies him, along with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, Vachel Lindsay & Carl Sandburg, as a great American minstrel. He has caught & immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, & what we believe. ASCAP's records show that 25 of Berlin's songs reached the top of the charts & were re-recorded by dozens of famous singers over the years, such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, & Ella Fitzgerald. In 1924, when Berlin was 36, his biography, The Story of Irving Berlin, was being written by Alexander Woollcott. In a letter to Woollcott, Jerome Kern offered what one writer said "may be the last word" on the significance of Irving Berlin: Irving Berlin has no place in American music - he is American music. Emotionally, he honestly absorbs the vibrations emanating from the people, manners & life of his time &, in turn, gives these impressions back to the world -simplified, clarified & glorified. Composer George Gershwin (1898-1937) also tried to describe the importance of Berlin's compositions: I want to say at once that I frankly believe that Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.... His songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, & each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor. Irving Berlin remains, I think, America's Schubert. But apart from his genuine talent for song-writing, Irving Berlin has had a greater influence upon American music than any other one man. It was Irving Berlin who was the very 1st to have created a real, inherent American music.... Irving Berlin was the 1st to free the American song from the nauseating sentimentality which had previously characterized it, & by introducing & perfecting ragtime he had actually given us the 1st germ of an American musical idiom; he had sowed the 1st seeds of an American music.";

HISTORICAL NOTE: "Kathryn Elizabeth "Kate" Smith (May 1, 1907 – June 17, 1986) was an American singer, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". Smith had a radio, television, & recording career spanning five decades, which reached its pinnacle in the 1940s. Smith was born in Greenville, Virginia. Her professional musical career began in 1930, when she was discovered by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her longtime partner & manager. Collins put her on radio in 1931. She sang the controversial top twenty song of 1931, "That's Why Darkies Were Born". She appeared in 1932 in Hello Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott & Sally Blane, & in the 1943 wartime movie This is the Army she sang "God Bless America". Smith began recording in 1926; in 1931, she sang "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Her biggest hits were "River, Stay 'Way From My Door" (1931), "The Woodpecker Song" (1940), "The White Cliffs of Dover" (1941), "Rose O'Day" (1941), "I Don't Want to Walk Without You" (1942), "There Goes That Song Again" (1944), "Seems Like Old Times" (1946), & "Now Is the Hour" (1947). Her theme song was "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain"; she had helped write the lyrics. Smith greeted her audience with "Hello, everybody!" & signed off with "Thanks for listenin'." Her 1932 film, "Hello, Everybody" was released around the same time as Mae West's "She Done Him Wrong" at a time when Paramount was in deep financial trouble. Paramount initially promoted Smith's film & it proved to be disappointing at the box office. On the other hand, West's 1st starring film was a huge success. This situation added to the ridicule of Smith's size & appearance, but she was featured in a number of Paramount shorts without issue. She continued to be successful on radio throughout the 1930s into the 1940s. Smith's plump figure made her an occasional object of derision; however, late in her career, Philadelphia Flyers hockey fans lovingly said about her appearance before games, "It ain't BEGUN 'til the fat lady sings!" Smith was 5'10" tall & weighed 235 pounds at the age of 30. She titled her 1938 autobiography Living in a Great Big Way. She credited Ted Collins with helping her overcome her self-consciousness, writing, "Ted Collins was the 1st man who regarded me as a singer, & didn't even seem to notice that I was a big girl." She noted, "I'm big, & I sing, & boy, when I sing, I sing all over!" Smith was a major star of radio, usually backed by Jack Miller's Orchestra. She began with her twice-a-week NBC series, Kate Smith Sings (quickly expanded to six shows a week), followed by a series of shows for CBS: Kate Smith & Her Swanee Music (1931–33), sponsored by La Palina Cigars; The Kate Smith Matinee (1934–35); The Kate Smith New Star Revue (1934–35); Kate Smith's Coffee Time (1935–36), sponsored by A&P; & The Kate Smith A&P Bandwagon (1936–37). The Kate Smith Hour was a leading radio variety show, offering comedy, music & drama with appearances by top personalities of films & theater for eight years (1937–45). The show's resident comics, Abbott & Costello & Henny Youngman, introduced their comedy to a nationwide radio audience aboard her show, while a series of sketches based on the Broadway production of the same name led to The Aldrich Family as separate hit series in its own right in 1940. Smith continued on the Mutual Broadcasting System, CBS, ABC, & NBC, doing both music & talk shows into the 1950s. From January 25 to July 18, 1960, she hosted The Kate Smith Show, a variety program on the CBS Monday evening schedule. Because of her popularity, Smith's face was a common sight in print advertisements of the day. Over the years, she acted as a commercial spokesman for numerous companies such as Studebaker, Pullman, & Jell-O. Smith's figure wasn't the only satire target. Her cheery radio sign-on was parodied by comedian Henry Morgan when he launched his own show in 1942: "Good evening, anybody, here's Morgan," which became his sign-on. Morgan would recall in his memoir, Here's Morgan, that Smith's sign-on struck him as condescending: "I, on the other hand, was grateful if anybody was listening." When the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team played her rendition of "God Bless America" before their game on December 11, 1969, an unusual part of her career began. The team began to play the song before home games every once in a while; the perception was that the team was more successful on these occasions, so the tradition grew. At the Flyers' home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 11, 1973, she made a surprise appearance to perform the song in person & received a tremendous reception. The Flyers won that game by a 2-0 score. She again performed the song at the Spectrum in front of a capacity crowd of 17,007 fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974 against the Boston Bruins. Boston's captain, Phil Esposito, infamously tried to jinx the Flyers' "good luck charm" by presenting her with a bouquet of roses after her performance. The Flyers won their 1st of two back-to-back Stanley Cups, winning that playoff series against the Boston Bruins 4 games to 2, with Bernie Parent shutting the Bruins out 1-0 in that game. Smith also performed live at Flyers home games on May 13, 1975, when the Flyers beat the New York Islanders 4-1 to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals., & on May 16, 1976, before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, when the Flyers lost to the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 & were swept in that series. The Flyers' record when "God Bless America" is played or sung in person stands at a remarkable 87 wins, 23 losses, & 4 ties as of June 9, 2010. Smith & her song remain a special part of Flyers' history. In 1987, the team erected a statue of Smith outside their arena at the time, the Spectrum, in her memory. The Flyers still show a video of her singing "God Bless America" in lieu of "The Star Spangled Banner" for good luck before important games. The video of her performance is now accompanied by Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster, Gene Hart, longtime voice of the Flyers, & anthem singer for the Flyers. Before games whenever God Bless America is performed, Lou Nolan, the PA announcer for the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center would say: "Ladies & gentlemen, at this time, we ask that you please rise & remove your hats & salute to our flags & welcome the number 1 ranked anthemist in the NHL, Lauren Hart, as she sings (if the visiting team is from Canada, O Canada (or Canadian national anthem) followed by) God Bless America, accompanied by the great Kate Smith." On May 19, 2010, the 36th anniversary of the date that she sang God Bless America before the Flyers clinched their 1st championship, the U.S. Postal Service held a ceremony attended by players from that championship team announcing the release of the Kate Smith US postage stamp in front of her statue at the Spectrum. Kate Smith was the Grand Marshal for the 1976 Rose Bowl parade & game. She sang "God Bless America" before the Ohio State-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl, which UCLA won 23-10. On October 26, 1982, Smith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom America's highest civilian honor, by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, a Smith admirer, joined in the ceremony in Raleigh, North Carolina. In bestowing the honor, Reagan said: The voice of Kate Smith is known & loved by millions of Americans, young & old. In war & peace, it has been an inspiration. Those simple but deeply moving words, 'God bless America,' have taken on added meaning for all of us because of the way Kate Smith sang them. Thanks to her they have become a cherished part of all our lives, an undying reminder of the beauty, the courage & the heart of this great land of ours. In giving us a magnificent, selfless talent like Kate Smith, God has truly blessed America. Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" is also played during the 7th inning stretch of most New York Yankees home games. Proceeds or money from her performances of "God Bless America" are donated to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Kate Smith, who never married, was crippled by diabetes & her weight problem in her last years & was confined to a wheelchair. She died in Raleigh on June 17, 1986 at the age of 79. Since her death, Miss Smith's remains had been stored in a vault at Saint Agnes Cemetery in Lake Placid, New York. But for over a year after her death, officials of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church & the singer's executors disputed the meaning of a clause in her will. The clause expressed Miss Smith's desire to be interred in the St. Agnes graveyard in a hermetically sealed bronze casket in a mausoleum sufficient to contain my remains alone. This request was reportedly made because Kate Smith had an obsessive fear of being underground. The church, however, despite earlier requests by other parishioners, had previously forbidden any above-ground crypts & large headstones in the small 11-acre (45,000 m2) cemetery. A parish committee convened to resolve the dispute was willing to make an exception for the singer, with an above-ground sarcophagus-style tomb. In addition to requesting burial at St. Agnes, Smith left $25,000 to the church - & half the residuals of her estate. It is because the church stands to gain from the disposition of the will, some observers said, that it 1st opposed what the lawyer for the church, Fred Dennin, called the executors' rather grandiose plans for an 11-foot (3.4 m)-high, $90,000 mausoleum. In the end, on Saturday, November 14, 1987, about 700 people mourned singer Kate Smith, nearly a year & a half after her death, to the sound of her trademark "God Bless America" & other tunes she held dear. On that day, the sun peeked through the clouds as the Rev. Robert Lamitie blessed Smith's mausoleum, whose disputed size led to the long delay in burial. Smith's pink granite above-ground mausoleum with the name 'Kathryn E. Smith' emblazoned atop its front, is where she rests in peace today. Kate Smith was inducted posthumously into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2010 a US commemorative stamp was issued featuring stamp art duplicates artwork created for the cover of a CD titled, “Kate Smith: The Songbird of the South.” The artwork was based on a photograph of Smith taken in the 1960s.";

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