The things that really matter…

Day 277 of 365

“Things that really matter are the things that gold can’t buy, so let’s have another cup o’ coffee and let’s have another piece o’ pie.” ~Irving Berlin

Last night, I shared this quote and promised that, tonight, I would tell you what I found out about the author of this quote. I actually read this quote in an ad for a pie plate. I have to tell you that it is the most beautiful pie plate I have ever seen. It is hand made and is a work of art to me. And, there, on the ad, was this quote. There is a good chance the pie plate seemed more beautiful because of this fantastic quote.

This quote is represents a goal for my life, a motto that keeps me happy. For better or worse, this is who I am. So when I read this, I really had to look into the person who said or wrote it.

I am such a skeptic that I always check quotes I see in memes or ads or anywhere. My first degrees were in Literature, and I learned how often famous authors are misquoted. So I check any quote I like or any quote I share. But, after I saw this quote was real, I wasn’t satisfied. The little bit I read about Irving Berlin was really fascinating to me, so I dug deeper.

Maybe you know Irving Berlin. I did not. I don’t think I have ever heard his name before. But, my goodness, I know his music–and am thankful I now know his name and story. He is fascinating. Just in case you are like me and did not know him, I have to write to tell you his story. I love to know amazing stories. I am about to tell you an amazing story. I’ll try to be brief.

Irving Berlin (born Isreael Beilin) was a Russian-born Jewish composer and lyricist who emigrated to the United States when he was just five years old. His family was fleeing violence against Jews. I read he said in an interview that he doesn’t remember anything of his first five years in Russia except for the memory of lying on a blanket on the side of a road watching his family’s home burning down. How devastating is that?

He was born May 11, 1888 and died September 22, 1989. What a long life, right? And I was most interested to find his birthday was May 11, and mine is May 9. I mean, of course, he’s a Taurus. He wrote about coffee and pie. When he and his family came to America, the children were kept in holding pens until their family was approved to stay. He grew up in abject poverty and got his start in music when he got a job delivering newspapers in New York City as a child. He was exposed to music in the city, and he started singing. People would sometimes pay him extra in tips when he delivered the newspaper if he sang.

Irving Berlin would grow up to be nominated for Academy Awards eight times, to write the music for 15 Hollywood films and 30 Broadway shows, and to make a significant contribution to the Great American Songbook. Here are some of the songs this man wrote: Puttin’ on the Ritz, White Christmas, Happy Holiday, Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better), and God Bless America–oh, and like 1500 more. George Gershwin said he was “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.” His music has been recorded by Nat King Cole, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Willie Nelson, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Lady Gaga, and the list just keeps going.

I learned this just reading his Wikipedia page, but I have to learn more. I have to find a biography. In the meantime, I’ll share one more thing. This is a clip of the original 1930 film sequence for Puttin’ on the Ritz. I asked both of my children if they knew this song. My daughter, who is in her 20s, not only knew it but loves this song, and my son, who is just 13, didn’t know the title but knew the song when he heard it. I hope it makes you smile.

And, even if you don’t have time watch the video, the next time you can, have more coffee and pie.

photo credit: Fran Jacquier

2 thoughts on “The things that really matter…

  1. Thank you for sharing that lovey story. I did know of Iring Berlin and his fabulous music…. more popular in my Mom’s era but timeless really.
    I am always all in for pie and coffee…. two of life’s joys.


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