I Want To Go Back To Michigan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cover page to the first edition printing.

I Want to Go Back to Michigan is a song by Irving Berlin composed in 1914. It was a moderate commercial success when it was first released and afterward became a staple on vaudeville. Its most famous performance was by Judy Garland in the film Easter Parade.[1]


The ballad's lyrics employ imagery of an idyllic rural childhood juxtaposed against less appealing city life, which was a theme among some popular songs during this period of rapid urban growth in the United States.[2]

You can keep your cabarets
Where they turn nights into days.
I'd rather be where they go to bed at nine.
I've been gone for seven weeks
And I've lost my rosy cheeks.[3][4]


According to Charles Hamm in a biography of Irving Berlin, the songwriter composed "I Want to Go Back to Michigan" at a time when his ambitions were aiming past vaudeville toward musical theater and he was exercising new styles. The nostalgic reminiscence here, along with "Happy Little Country Girl" composed during the same period, was previously unknown in his work.[5] Billy Murray, a popular singer during the period when the song was first composed, recorded it for Edison Records in 1914.[1]


The Avalon Boys performed an a cappella version of the song in the 1931 Laurel & Hardy film Pardon Us.[6] Judy Garland performed the song in the 1948 film Easter Parade, which was written around a mixture of ten older and eight newly composed Irving Berlin songs.[7] Berlin's deal with MGM for the package of songs that included "I Want to Go Back to Michigan" was $500,000 plus a percentage of box office receipts, which was an unusually advantageous contract for a songwriter and amounted to twenty percent of the film's total budget of $2.5 million.[8] The film won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Musical Score.[9]


  1. ^ a b "The American Variety Stage, 1870 - 1920". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  2. ^ Timothy E. Scheurer (1989). American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press. Popular Press. pp. 107–110. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  3. ^ ""I Want to Go Back to Michigan" (sheet music) page 2". Watson Berlin & Snyder Co. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  4. ^ ""I Want to Go Back to Michigan" (sheet music) page 3". Watson Berlin & Snyder Co. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  5. ^ S. Charles Hamm (1997). Irving Berlin. Oxford University Press US. pp. 170–172. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  6. ^ Tyler, Don (2016). Music of the First World War. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-4408-3996-2.
  7. ^ Stanley Green, Elaine Schmidt (1999). Hollywood Musicals Year by Year. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 149. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  8. ^ Laurence Bergreen (1996). As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin. Da Capo Press. pp. 474–479. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  9. ^ "Results page (Easter Parade)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2008-09-21.

External links[edit]

Media related to Irving Berlin - I Want to Go Back to Michigan at Wikimedia Commons