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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mary Is a Grand Old Name

By George M. Cohan

Cohan--by far the most dominant figure in American songwriting just prior to the dawn of the golden era of the Great American Songbook--composed this sweet, lyrical song for his famous musical Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway, in which it was introduced by the preeminent starlet of the stage, Faye Templeton. Some have speculated that he wrote it for his second wife, whose middle name was Mary. However, it's worth noting that at the time he wrote it, he was still one year away from divorcing his first wife... Cohan had a daughter in 1909, and named her Mary.


For it is Mary; Mary

Plain as any name can be
But with propriety, society
Will say, "Marie"

But it was Mary; Mary
Long before the fashions came
And there is something there
That sounds so square
It's a grand old name.

Recorded By:

George M. Cohan
Bing Crosby
James Cagney
Glen Daly
Allen Dale


emma wallace said...

Aww! I get this song in my head all the time. It's got such a sweet melody.

B-Sol said...

It certainly does. And the same thing happens to me.

axewriter said...

And for his new show "Fifty Miles From Boston") the following season (1907), Cohan wrote "Harrigan." It's almost a perfect quodlibet of "Mary's A Grand Old Name." Probably not intentional, but the coincidence is interesting.

B-Sol said...

Very interesting! And illustrated clearly in the biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy!

axewriter said...

Gosh, I've only seen clips from "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Didn't realize I was 70 years too late to be the first to point out the quodlibet! Sigh . . .

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