Sweet Adeline (song)
"(You're the Flower of My Heart,) Sweet Adeline" is a ballad best known as a barbershop standard. It was first published in 1903, with lyrics by Richard Husch Gerard to music by Harry Armstrong, from a tune he had written in 1896 at the age of 18. According to a 1928 newspaper story, the lyrics were inspired "by a girl who worked at the music counter of a New York department store." After failing to find a publisher with the initial title, "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Rosalie", according to a story the two decided a new title was in order and were inspired by a poster advertising the farewell tour of opera singer Adelina Patti. It did not become a hit until it was performed in 1904 by the group The Haydn Quartet. The Haydn Quartet's version was #1 for 10 weeks in 1904, and the Peerless Quartet also hit #1 with their version in 1904, for 3 weeks, according to Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories.
John F. Fitzgerald, who served as mayor of Boston, represented Massachusetts in Congress and was the maternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, made "Sweet Adeline" his theme song in 1909. Over the next four decades, he personally sang it at countless political and social events and on the radio.
In popular culture
- In June 1926, Max Fleischer and Red Seal Pictures released an animated version of "Sweet Adeline", made in the sound-on-film Phonofilm process, as part of his series Song Car-Tunes, featuring "follow the bouncing ball".
- A piece of "Sweet Adeline" was featured in Broadway Folly (1930), an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon.
- It was briefly performed in the 1930 Looney Tunes short The Booze Hangs High.
- It was performed by a quartet of sea turtles in the 1930 Van Beuren Studios animated short The Haunted Ship.
- The song was performed by the Marx Brothers in their 1931 film Monkey Business.
- The song was performed in a key scene in the Howard Hawks comedy film Ball of Fire (1941).
- The song was featured in a 1952 episode of the TV show I Love Lucy entitled "Lucy's Show Biz Swan Song", in which Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) performs the song in a barbershop quartet at the Tropicana Night Club as part of a Gay Nineties revue. The clip was also part of a flashback in the I Love Lucy Christmas Special.
- The song was featured in the Disneyland attraction America Sings, performed by a goose named Blossom-Nosed Murphy.
- The song was covered by jam band Phish in several live performances.
- Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961)
- The Seekers used the song as a regular part of their live act in the 1960s; lead vocalist Judith Durham would sit out the song while Athol Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley would perform the song as a acapella trio. The song was included on their 1968 album, Live at the Talk of the Town.
- Country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers references "Sweet Adeline" in his song "My Old Pal".
- The Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" features The Be Sharps singing the song when Barney Gumble becomes a new member of the group.
- Mickey Mouse serenades Minnie Mouse with "Sweet Adeline" in the 1929 short The Karnival Kid.
- A fast version of the song was sung by a barbershop quartet of pigs in the Elmo's World episode "Singing".
- "Sweet Adeline" is referenced in the barbershop songs, "Down Our Way" and "I Love That Barbershop Style" as well as many other popular barbershop songs.
- Elliott Smith's song of the same name is the first track on the 1998 album "XO".
- In 2017, Avriel Kaplan covered "Sweet Adeline" on Avriel and the Sequoias debut album, "Sage and Stone".