If some of the coon songs produced by Tin Pan Alley at the turn of the 20th Century are enough to make today's blacks cringe, they can take comfort from the fact that other ethnic songs were often just as bad. "My Mariuccia" is every bit as awful as many of these best forgotten doubtful ditties, but it had the saving grace, indirectly, of launching Irving Berlin's songwriting career.
In 1906, Al Piantadosi, resident pianist at the New York saloon Callahan's, penned this novelty number with lyrics by the bar's bouncer, Big Jerry. According to Laurence Bergreen in As Thousands Cheer
, the song enjoyed a brief vogue in New York, and led Berlin's boss Mike Salter to solicit a similar song from his employees. The singing waiter took up the challenge, and came up with "Marie From Sunny Italy