Irving Berlin (original name Israel Isidore Baline) was born May 11, 1888. His family fled from Russia when Czar Alexander III revived a pogrom against the Jews. Cossacks burned the family house to the ground, and the family slipped out of the country, eventually ending up in New York city.
As he grew, young Irving supported himself singing in saloons in the Bowery. It was there he learned what songs appealed to audiences – well known tunes with simple sentiments. His music was characterized by that all his life. About this he said, “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.” (New York Times)
His first hit song was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” written in 1911. It gave ragtime music a huge boost and sparked a dance craze that caught the attention of the whole world, ironically, particularly in the Russia his family had fled from.
He went from success to success with such hits as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Easter Parade,” “Happy Holiday,” and scores of others. He wrote for Broadway plays and films. “White Christmas” alone sold over 50 million records.
He died in New York city at the age of 101. In tribute to him, George Gershwin said, “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, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor… Irving Berlin was the first to free the American song from the nauseating sentimentality which had previously characterized it, and by introducing and perfecting ragtime he had actually given us the first germ of an American musical idiom; he had sown the first seeds of an American music.”
Some quotes and lyrics by Irving Berlin:
Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.
There is an element of truth in every idea that lasts long enough to be called corny.
Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.
Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds all day long. (Blue Skies)
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade. (Easter Parade)
Happy holiday, happy holiday
While the merry bells keep ringing
May your ev’ry wish come true
Happy holiday, happy holiday
May the calendar keep bringing
Happy holidays to you. (Happy Holiday)
Got no silver, got no gold
What I got can’t be bought or sold
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
-I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night. (I Got Sun in the Morning)
There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know
Ev’rything about it is appealing
Ev’rything the traffic will allow
Nowhere could you have that happy feeling
When you are stealing that extra bow. (There’s No Business Like Show Business)
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow. (White Christmas)
You can find links to all his lyrics at http://www.oldielyrics.com/i/irving_berlin.html.
Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at http://www.quotelady.com.