On This Day – March 18th

The man above my Gentle Readers, for those who don’t recognize him, is Irving Berlin. A prolific composer who came to the United States from Imperial Russia at the age of five. Berlin was not even 20 years old when he sold the publishing rights to his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy” for 33 cents in 1907. His success, however, would begin with the song he copyrighted today in 1911.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band” would become one of the highest selling piece of sheet music in history, topping 1.5 million copies in the first 18 months of printing. It’s simple,yet catchy, tune was easy for amateurs to master, increasing its popularity. For those unfamiliar with the tune, CLICK HERE to hear it played by Wayne King and his Orchestra.

Irving Berlin’s early success would lead to a career writing songs and musical scores for stage and screen. By the time of his death at at 101 in 1989, Berlin is attributed with over 1500 songs. In his career he gave us “White Christmas”, “God Bless America”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. All three staples of American musical culture.

According to a couple of inflation calculators I found on the internet, Berlin’s 33 cents he received for his first song in 1907 would be roughly worth a whopping $8.46 cents today. If he had taken this pittance and given up, the American Music scene would be much different than it is today.

What we should learn from this genius of music is to never give up. Just because your first attempt is a failure, or not as much of a success as you would like, DON’T GIVE UP. You never know when that big break is going to hit. Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.


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