The Info List - Irving Gordon

Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
(February 14, 1915 – December 1, 1996) was an American songwriter. Biography[edit] Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
was born in Brooklyn, New York, and later lived on Coney Island. He was named Israel Goldener but later changed his name to Irving Gordon. As a child, he studied violin. In high school he wrote a symphony piece, but his teacher laughed at it. Gordon wanted to study at Juilliard
but Jews were not admitted at that time.[citation needed] After attending public schools in New York City, Gordon worked in the Catskill Mountains
Catskill Mountains
at some of the resort hotels in the area. While working there, he took to writing parody lyrics to some of the popular songs of the day. In the 1930s, he took a job with the music publishing firm headed by talent agent Irving Mills, at first writing only lyrics, but subsequently writing music as well. After Gordon was introduced to Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
in 1937, Ellington sometimes invited him to put words to his compositions. However working with Ellington was probably one of the most difficult commissions there was, since most of the Ellington songs were really instrumental pieces whose singable potential only emerged after they had been played and recorded by one or another of the soloists in the Ellington orchestra.[1] While working as Ellington's lyricist, Gordon wrote the words to Billy Strayhorn's piece "Prelude to a Kiss." For years he like many other composers worked out of the Brill Building
Brill Building
in Manhattan. After writing "Mister and Mississippi", Gordon decided he enjoyed puns on state names and later wrote "Delaware," which was a hit for Perry Como. Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
is perhaps best known for his song, "Unforgettable." He also wrote "Allentown Jail", which was played by numerous musicians and told the story of a man who stole a diamond for his girlfriend and ended up in the Allentown jail, unable to make bail. Late in his life, Gordon won a Grammy for Song of the Year when Natalie Cole re-recorded her father Nat "King" Cole's earlier hit of "Unforgettable." Gordon wrote both the words and music for "Unforgettable." Gordon did not care for rock music, which he said was composed not of "melodies but maladies."[2] Gordon told the Los Angeles Times that by 1960 the vogue for rhymed words and hummable melodies had passed, "So I became a tennis pro. I have many lives."[3] Abbott and Costello
Abbott and Costello
often performed a baseball comedy routine, "Who's on First?" which they perfected during their years in vaudeville. Gordon has been credited with writing "Who's on first?" although others have also claimed authorship. Gordon is noted for his contribution to music and lyrics of the Americana genre. For examples it was commonly thought that his song Two Brothers was a folk song about the civil war. For several years before his death he was writing a musical about Sigmund Freud. Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
died of lymphoma cancer in Malibu, California. He was survived by three sons. Partial selection of his published songs[edit]

"Allentown Jail" "Be Anything, But Darling Be Mine" "Blue Prelude" (lyrics by Gordon Jenkins; music by Joe Bishop) "Delaware" ( Perry Como
Perry Como
hit vocal) "Mama From The Train" ( Patti Page
Patti Page
hit vocal) "Me, Myself and I" ( Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
hit vocal, co-written with Allen Roberts and Alvin S. Kaufman) "Mister and Mississippi" ( Patti Page
Patti Page
hit vocal) "Nine Tenths of the Tennessee River" ( Moon Mullican country blues ballad) "Prelude to a Kiss" (lyrics by Gordon; music by Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
and Irving Mills) "Two Brothers" (Civil War Song)[4] "Unforgettable" (major hit for Nat King Cole, Grammy Award
Grammy Award
in 1992) "What Will I Tell My Heart" ( Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
hit vocal) "Sinner or Saint" (1952) "Sorta on the Border" (1953) " The Kentuckian
The Kentuckian
Song" ( Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold
vocal from the Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
film The Kentuckian, 1955) "Rollin' Stone" ( Perry Como
Perry Como
vocal) "Too Fat For the Chimney" (1953) (Gisele Mackenzie, recorded on "Christmas Songs For Bad Little Boys & Girls")


^ Benny Green. Obituary: Irving Gordon: Simply Unforgettable. The Guardian (London), December 4, 1996 Features page; Pg. 16 ^ Irv Lichtman. 10th Yr. For Writers' Haven; Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
Rages Again. Billboard June 13, 1992, Artists & Music; Words & Music; Pg. 18 ^ Myrna Oliver. Obituary; Irving Gordon; Composer of 'Unforgettable.' Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1996 Page: 26, Section: A; Metro Desk ^ Irwin Silber, Jerry Silverman (1995). Songs of the Civil War. Dover Publications. Retrieved July 8, 2010. 

v t e

Grammy Award
Grammy Award
for Song of the Year


"Volare" – Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno
(songwriter) (1959) "The Battle of New Orleans" – Jimmy Driftwood
Jimmy Driftwood
(songwriter) (1960) "Theme from Exodus" – Ernest Gold (songwriter) (1961) "Moon River" – Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
& Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini
(songwriters) (1962) "What Kind of Fool Am I?" – Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley (songwriters) (1963) "Days of Wine and Roses" – Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
& Henry Mancini (songwriters) (1964) "Hello, Dolly!" – Jerry Herman
Jerry Herman
(songwriter) (1965) "The Shadow of Your Smile" – Paul Francis Webster & Johnny Mandel (songwriters) (1966) "Michelle" – John Lennon
John Lennon
& Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
(songwriters) (1967) "Up, Up, and Away" – Jimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb
(songwriter) (1968) "Little Green Apples" – Bobby Russell (songwriter) (1969) "Games People Play" – Joe South
Joe South
(songwriter) (1970) "Bridge over Troubled Water" – Paul Simon
Paul Simon
(songwriter) (1971) "You've Got a Friend" – Carole King
Carole King
(songwriter) (1972) "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" – Ewan MacColl (songwriter) (1973) "Killing Me Softly with His Song" – Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox (songwriters) (1974) "The Way We Were" – Alan and Marilyn Bergman & Marvin Hamlisch (songwriters) (1975) "Send in the Clowns" – Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
(songwriter) (1976) "I Write the Songs" – Bruce Johnston (songwriter) (1977) "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" – Barbra Streisand & Paul Williams (songwriters) / "You Light Up My Life" – Joe Brooks (songwriter) (1978) "Just the Way You Are" – Billy Joel
Billy Joel
(songwriter) (1979) "What a Fool Believes" – Kenny Loggins
Kenny Loggins
& Michael McDonald (songwriters) (1980)


"Sailing" – Christopher Cross
Christopher Cross
(songwriter) (1981) "Bette Davis Eyes" – Donna Weiss & Jackie DeShannon (songwriters) (1982) "Always on My Mind" – Johnny Christopher, Mark James & Wayne Carson (songwriters) (1983) "Every Breath You Take" – Sting (songwriter) (1984) "What's Love Got to Do with It" – Graham Lyle & Terry Britten (songwriters) (1985) "We Are the World" – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
& Lionel Richie (songwriters) (1986) "That's What Friends Are For" – Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach
& Carole Bayer Sager (songwriters) (1987) "Somewhere Out There" – James Horner, Barry Mann
Barry Mann
& Cynthia Weil (songwriters) (1988) "Don't Worry, Be Happy" – Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
(songwriter) (1989) "Wind Beneath My Wings" – Larry Henley & Jeff Silbar (songwriters) (1990) "From a Distance" – Julie Gold
Julie Gold
(songwriter) (1991) "Unforgettable" – Irving Gordon
Irving Gordon
(songwriter) (1992) "Tears in Heaven" – Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
& Will Jennings (songwriters) (1993) "A Whole New World" – Alan Menken
Alan Menken
& Tim Rice
Tim Rice
(songwriters) (1994) "Streets of Philadelphia" – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
(songwriter) (1995) "Kiss from a Rose" – Seal (songwriter) (1996) "Change the World" – Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick & Tommy Sims (songwriters) (1997) "Sunny Came Home" – Shawn Colvin
Shawn Colvin
& John Leventhal
John Leventhal
(songwriters) (1998) "My Heart Will Go On" – James Horner
James Horner
& Will Jennings (songwriters) (1999) "Smooth" – Itaal Shur
Itaal Shur
& Rob Thomas (songwriters) (2000)


"Beautiful Day" – Adam Clayton, David Evans, Laurence Mullen & Paul Hewson (songwriters) (2001) "Fallin'" – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys
(songwriter) (2002) "Don't Know Why" – Jesse Harris (songwriter) (2003) "Dance with My Father" – Richard Marx
Richard Marx
& Luther Vandross (songwriters) (2004) "Daughters" – John Mayer
John Mayer
(songwriter) (2005) "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" – Adam Clayton, David Evans, Laurence Mullen & Paul Hewson (songwriters) (2006) "Not Ready to Make Nice" – Emily Burns Erwin, Martha Maguire, Natalie Maines
Natalie Maines
Pasdar & Dan Wilson (songwriters) (2007) "Rehab" – Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse
(songwriter) (2008) "Viva la Vida" – Guy Berryman, Jonathan Buckland, William Champion & Christopher Martin (songwriters) (2009) "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" – Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart (songwriters) (2010) "Need You Now" – Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley
Charles Kelley
& Hillary Scott (songwriters) (2011) "Rolling in the Deep" – Adele
Adkins & Paul Epworth (songwriters) (2012) "We Are Young" – Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost
Andrew Dost
& Nate Ruess (songwriters) (2013) "Royals" – Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor (songwriters) (2014) "Stay with Me" (Darkchild version) – James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith (songwriters) (2015) "Thinking Out Loud" – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran
& Amy Wadge
Amy Wadge
(songwriters) (2016) "Hello" – Adele
Adkins & Greg Kurstin
Greg Kurstin
(songwriters) (2017) "That's What I Like" – Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip (songwriters) (2018)

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 71132881 LCCN: no2005101439 ISNI: 0000 0001 0530 8141 GND: 135022134 MusicBrainz: 0b60f30c-2503-4e9f-acfd-94fb42eec80d BNE: XX919389 SN