Monday, January 4, 2010

IF IT WASN’T FOR THE IRISH AND THE JEWS


Posted By Ann Rabinowitz
 


  
Recently, Mick Moloney, of New York University's Irish Studies Department, was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR)'s Terry Gross, regarding his latest album "If It Wasn't For The Irish And The Jews" Moloney, originally from Limerick, Ireland, and a talented performer in the 1970's Irish band, the Johnstons, and later an academic, has performed and written about Irish music.

His topic focused on Tin Pan Alley which was an area in Manhattan devoted to the production and propagation of sheet music for the popular music industry. Its heyday was the late 1800's and early half of the 1900's and it was located approximately Broadway and 5th Avenue on 28th Street.

Many know of the Jewish participation in Tin Pan Alley with such great songsmiths as Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. However, the interview covered the little known topic of the special collaboration between early 20t Century songwriters of Irish and Jewish origins. The lyrics of these composers touched on themes dear to the hearts of immigrants in the crowded tenements of New York and beyond. 

His title song on his album was a popular cross-cultural collaboration between William Jerome (originally Flannery) and Jean Schwartz, born in Budapest, Hungary. Its lyrics are as follows:



IF IT WASN'T FOR THE IRISH AND THE JEWS



I just returned from Europe I've seen London and Paree,

And I'm Glad to get back home to Yankee – land.

In fact the little U.S.A. looks better now to me.

It's the real place for the real folks under stand?

But still I often sit and think what would this country be,

If we hadn't men like Rosenstein and Hughes.

You'd surely have a Kingdom there'd be no democracy.

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews.

CHORUS

What would this great Yankee nation

Really, really ever do?

If it wasn't for a Levy

A Mon-a-han or Don-a-hue

Where would we get our policemen?

Why Uncle Sam would have the blues.

Without the Pats and Isadores

You'd have no big department stores.

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

McDonald built the subway and his name we'll not forget,

A word of praise is due to Nathan Strauss

For pasteurizing baby's milk the world owes him a debt

He's a friend to every kiddie in the house

Without Big Tim Sullivan what would the Bowry do?

Just ask the man that needs a pair of shoes

There wouldn't be an East Side in the City of New York

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews

CHORUS

Talk about a combination.

Hear my words and make a note

On St. Patrick's Day Rosinsky

Pins a shamrock on his coat

There's a sympathetic feeling

Between the Blooms and McAdoos

Why Tammany would

Surely fall there'd really be no Hall at all

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

You all know Charlie Frohman and his brother Dan of course,

How often have you laughed at Louis Mann?

And Lew and Joe who used to run the Little Music Hall

And that wonder, clever George M. Cohan.

Dave Warfield, Peter Daly. Charlie Ross and Andrew Mack,

For years and years they drove away the blues

Where would you get your actors from I'd really like to know

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews?

CHORUS

What would you do for amusement

There would be no place to go

If it wasn't for the Shuberts,

Frank McKee and Marcus Loew

K. and E. and Billy Brady

Hammerstein I mustn't lose

I once heard Dave Belasco say,

You couldn't stage a play today

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

Copyright MCMXII by Jerome & Schwartz Publishing Co., 1445 Broadway, New York.



The match of Jerome and Schwartz resulted in many hits and also additional couplings with other Jewish lyricists and composers for Jerome with such as Harry von Tilzer (Aaron Gumbinsky) and Charles Tobias.


Another site, rich in information about early American popular music songwriters and composers, is Parlor Songs <http://parlorsongs.com/bios/composersbios.php> which provides biographies as well as photographs of the individuals. The very famous as well as the not so are included along with song attributions. The biographies are good sources for genealogical information about these individuals. Examples of those included are Louis Wolfe Gilbert (1886-1970), who was from Odessa, Ukraine, and his collaborator Anatole Friedland (1881-1938), who was from St. Petersburg, Russia.



Unfortunately, this site does not provide information on the religious affiliation of those profiled, so one has to guess if the person is Jewish or not which may sometimes be difficult since many of the composers changed their names to more Americanized versions thereof.


A helpful site is that of the Songwriters Hall of Fame which has a section devoted to Tin Pan Alley <http://songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/eras/C1002>. There is a discussion of the various aspects of the music along with the inductees in the Hall of Fame. One can view a photo gallery, a biography, song catalog and audio clips as well as recommended materials and where to purchase the sheet music of the individual. One example of a Jewish inductee is prolific lyricist Gus Kahn, who was born in Germany, and who wrote such hits as "It Had To Be You" (with Isham Jones) and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" (with Walter Donaldson). He wrote many, many other songs such as "It Had To Be You", "I'll See You In My Dreams", "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye" and "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else" which can be found referenced on the site.



One more site covers four women who made their mark in Tin Pan Alley

<http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/women-of-tin-pan-alley/about-the-women-of-tin-pan-alley/720/>. These women were Dorothy Fields, Ann Ronell, Kay Swift, and Dana Suesse.



Other on-line resources for Tin Pan Alley are the following: 

There is much to find on-line regarding the music industry and Jewish participation in it. In addition, there are many Jewish-related collections in universities and Jewish institutions which hold sheet music, recordings and other items to help researchers learn more about their relatives who chose the music profession.

This includes sites which have on-line portals to the actual music such as:

Many more sites abound which provide access to Jewish music and those who composed, performed and recorded it. These are not covered here due to space limitations. Perhaps they will be covered in a later article.


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