But this is the mother of all mother songs – the one that’s lasted longer than almost all the others, if only because its lyric is reprinted every May on a gazillion greetings cards, some of which even play the music, too. It was written in 1915 by two second-rank Alleymen, composer Theodore Morse and lyricist Howard Johnson. Morse had quite a few hits in his day, though “I’d Rather Be A Lobster Than A Wise Guy” seems to have dropped out of the repertoire, and “We’ll Knock The Heligo Into Heligo Out Of Heligoland” didn’t outlast the First World War. But “Hurray For Baffin’s Bay” was one of the big songs in the original Broadway production of The Wizard Of Oz (1904) and “Two Little Boys” was revived with great success by Australia’s didgeridoo maestro Rolf Harris and has the distinction of being one of Mrs Thatcher’s favorite songs. Howard Johnson, though no relation to the household name, did share an interest in one of the items on the menu: “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream”. He also wrote war songs – “I’d Like To See The Kaiser With A Lily In His Hand” – and novelty songs that were a bit too novel – “I Don’t Want To Get Well (I’m In Love With A Beautiful Nurse)”.
But these words are Johnson’s claim to posterity. Eva Tanguay, Broadway’s “I Don’t Care” girl, introduced it in on stage, and Henry Burr, the soft-voiced son of New Brunswick, had a huge selling 78 with it in 1916, and thereafter it became a mainstay for every sentimental Irish tenor. Happy Mother’s Day to Irish mothers, dear old mammies, red hot mamas, and all the rest. And, as it’s a spelling song, see if you can fill in the missing words:
M is for the m ------- things she gave me
O means only that she’s growing o--
T is for the t---- she shed to save me
H is for her h---- of purest gold
E is for her e--- with lovelight shining
R means r----- and r---- she’ll always be
Put them all together, they spell MOTHER
A word that means the world to me.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
From SteynOnline's Song of the Week: