Humoresque

Album: Boarding House Reach (2018)

Songfacts®:

  • Legendary gangster Al Capone was convicted on October 17, 1931 on five counts of income tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and while doing time in Alcatraz, Capone lobbied the warden to allow him and his prisoners musical instruments. Upon permission being granted, Capone learned how to play the banjo and formed a prison band, The Rock Islanders, which included another famous criminal George 'Machine Gun' Kelly on the drums.

    While doing time in Alcatraz prison Capone also transcribed music and lyrics to various songs including "Humoresque" the mobster's take on a 1894 piano piece by Czech composer Antonín Dvorák.

    In 2017 Jack White purchased a musical manuscript written by Al Capone of "Humoresque". Moved by the idea that an infamous gangster had a weakness for such "a gentle, beautiful song," White recorded it as the closing track on Boarding House Reach. "It shows you, like, what we were talking about earlier," he told Rolling Stone. "Human beings are complicated creatures with lots of emotions going on."

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