The other day on Facebook one of the challenges to the older generation was to mention something that the younger people would not understand without explanation. My two word comment was- Irving Berlin. Later that day, my oldest daughter, messaged me and said, “What is Irving Berlin?” Here is my wordy explanation….
Irving Berlin is not a “what” but a “who.” He immigrated to the United States as Israel Baline from Russia when he was four years old. His parents were fleeing from Jewish persecution. They settled in New York and and in the early 1900′s he was a singing waiter, pianist and received his first major hit in 1911- “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” He became known as the King of Tin Pan Alley and he wrote hundreds and hundreds of songs including the most popular of secular Christmas songs- “White Christmas.”
He also wrote “God Bless America” for WWI but because he was Jewish the publishers did not believe this song would be well received by the American public and so it sat on the shelf until the coming of WWII when a radio singer by the name of Kate Smith, who was looking for a patriotic song to sing on her radio show, chose “God Bless America” and it became an American standard. Sadly, many people do not know this song today and its important significance.
Irving married young but his wife contracted typhoid fever on their honeymoon and she died of this infection just four months later. When in his 20′s, he met another woman with whom he fell in love. Because she was an heiress and Irving was a Jew her father did not approve and sent his daughter to Europe. It was while his sweetheart was abroad that he wrote the song- “Always.”
Everything went wrong,
and the whole day long
I’d feel so blue.
for the longest while
I’d forget to smile,
then I met you.
Now that my blue days have passed
Now that I’ve found you at last –
I’ll be loving you, always
With a love that’s true, always
When the things you’ve planned
Need a helping hand
I will understand
Days may not be fair, always
That’s when I’ll be there, always
Not for just an hour
Not for just a day
Not for just a year
Dreams will all come true
Growing old with you
And time will fly
Caring each day more
Than the day before
Till spring rolls by
Then when the springtme has gone
Then will my love linger on
When his beloved returned from Europe, they were married even though she remained estranged from her father. The Berlins had five children. Their only son was born on December 1, 1928 but ironically enough, he too contracted typhoid fever and died on Christmas Day. After this sadness came to his daughter she heard from her father and they were no longer separated. The Berlins were married for 62 years. Mr. Berlin outlived his wife and died at the age of 101.
When I was searching for a song that echoed the lessons of love learned from Lovebirds or Doves I heard this song playing on my Beautiful Instrumentals channel on DirectTV in the middle of the night. I knew at once it was the perfect song! I got up out of bed and wrote it down so I would not forget.
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Lovebirds is my theme at Holly House during this most romantic of months- February.
I wanted to share this vintage- 1925 song with my guests as part of our authentic historic experience that we try to provide. Usually, I am accompanied by our 1918 Fisher player piano, but the rendition of this beautiful ballad was turned more into an upbeat, jazz version. In keeping with the romantic theme I wanted a version more along the lines of this:
When I was in high school, taking voice lessons, I studied the songs that Deanna sang. She was a contemporary of Judy Garland, the girl with a tear in her voice. I think I wanted to be a blend of both these iconic singers who sang these heartfelt melodies and lyrics that were part of these lovely ballads that graced the movie musicals. I loved watching this type of movie when I was young.
I was able to find a Harry Nillson instrumental version of this song on You Tube and this morning I recorded the music and my voice using my Iphone and Mac Book! Not the best for recording but I wanted to send this to my Valentine. When I told my daughter about the romantic history of this song she said I should write the story so I did.
Here is my version of Always:
(Click picture to enlarge)
Happy Valentine’s Day!