My Mariuccia (Take a Steamboat)

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  • 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".
  • Two copies of the Piantadosi song are held by the British Library; the words are credited to Geo. Ronkyln; the New York edition was published by Barron & Thompson, and the British edition by Francis, Day & Hunter of London, both in 1906. In November 2009, a copy of the former turned up on E-bay; the front cover features performer Madge P. Maitland. According to the on-line Encyclopedic Discography Of Victor Recordings, it was recorded by Billy Murray with an orchestra on September 12, 1906. Unfortunately, the Edison Gold recording has been preserved by the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project of the University of California, Santa Barbara. It runs to 2 minutes 16 seconds. Bad though "My Mariuccia" is, it was Piantadosi's first hit, but was not his last. In 1915 he came up with "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier". >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
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