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Sam Coslow was a successful lyricist during the Tin Pan Alley era.   Two of his many successful songs were COCKTAILS FOR TWO and

MY OLD FLAME.   He, like many other successful composers and lyricists, went through a period of scrounging about the musical world in his early years, trying to achieve fame and fortune. He was involved in the following incident during this period.

In the early 1920's he was pounding the pavement like many others, trying to discover some sort of an "in" to further his career.   He happened to   discover an ad in a New York newspaper, which simply stated that someone in New Jersey was seeking "a certain kind of songwriter."   He made an inquiry, and was granted an interview at a particular address in N.J.

When he arrived for his appointment, he was astounded to find that the address was that of none other than Thomas Edison.   The quarters were richly furnished and the woman in the office greeted him somewhat superciliously, saying that Mr. Edison would be with him momentarily.

Soon he was ushered into a sumptuous office where, behind a big desk sat the man with the famous visage: Thomas Alva Edison.

Immediately, Edison remarked to him "Well, you fellows must all be very busy. You're the only one who responded to my ad!" With that, Edison continued:

"My most prized invention, as far as I am concerned, is the phonograph!   But I have a problem. I CAN'T STAND TODAY'S MUSIC!"   He proceeded to rant and rave about the lack of beautiful melodies, (and apparently wanted to hear more florid tunes of the JEANNIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR variety.)

Edison continued:   I want you to be my personal emissary" my "talent scout"- to search for beautiful music that is worthy of being recorded for my phonograph.

When Coslow left the office he was exuberant!   Needless to say, it took little time for the news of his "connection" to hit the street, and Coslow immediately became besieged by songwriters who wished to get in on the connection to Edison.

Two highly successful songwriters of the time were Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson.   So when they contacted Coslow, saying they had a sure fire hit they wanted to get to Edison, he consented to listen to the song, and upon hearing CAROLINA IN THE MORNING he shared their enthusiasm and could hardly wait to play the song for the great man.

Edison listened to Coslow's enthusiastic raving about this new hit-to-be and instructed him to play it on the piano that stood in the corner of his office. Coslow had played no more than a few bars, when Edison shrieked "STOP!"  

Startled, Coslow stopped playing, and Edison ordered him to play the first two notes of the song, all by themselves -" with one finger at a very slow tempo, over and over. If you know this song, you'll recall that the first two notes are used again and again and again! (DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA, etc.)

But Coslow played them slowly, and by themselves as instructed. He was interrupted when Edison shrieked:


And so ended Sam Coslow's relationship with Thomas Alva Edison!

But this tale requires more of an explanation.   As you know, CAROLINA IN THE MORNING did indeed become a very big hit and there are two musical reasons why those monotonous two same notes could succeed:

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I have spent a long and interesting life involved in music, as a performer (piano,) educator (at every level from elementary to graduate school,) solo pianist, bandleader, composer/songwriter; entertainer, storyteller and humorist. In my final (more...)

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Older music lovers routinely bemoan what has happe... by Phil Klein on Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011 at 12:54:02 AM
Here's a video of Al Joson singing Carolina in the... by Don Smith on Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011 at 12:58:20 AM
Hi, Don...It's interesting reading about your own ... by Phil Klein on Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011 at 9:00:11 PM