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Hoagy Carmichael
1899 - 1981

He Wrote the Sentimental Songs That All America Sang

For nearly fifty years Hoagy Carmichael was one of America's great popular song writers. He wrote the songs that America sang in the 1920s, '30s, '40s and well into the '50s. Perhaps his best known works are Stardust and Skylark. Among the many others are Lazy River, In the Still of the Night, Two Sleepy People, Georgia on My Mind, Little Old Lady, Lazy Bones, Old Rockin' Chair, and Buttermilk Skies. ■ His songs were unique to America and a sentimental bridge between the jazz of the 1920s and the raucous music of the late 1950s. When the cacophony of rock hit the airwaves, Carmichael decided to quit. "I don't want to compete with that kind of music." ■ Hoagland Howard Carmichael, actor and composer, was born November 22, 1899, in Bloomington, Indiana. His father worked for a utility company as a lineman. When queried about his Scottish ancestry, he answered, "Yes, I have been of Scottish descent all my life, according to my grandmother." The Carmichaels came to America from Scotland about 1775. ■ Kept indoors by rain that postponed a baseball game, he began idly to hit the keys on the family piano and found that he had an unusual talent. He had "discovered a whole new world." ■ At Indiana University he earned a law degree but never practiced. Music was his first love. Playing with a jazz band, he began to compose songs that took the country by storm. And his sly, shy mannerisms and croaky voice gave an odd attractive touch when he sang them. His songs are described as a throwback to an earlier carefree America and an innocence that broke clean from the jazz on which he was weaned. ■ He retired to Rancho Mirage, California, where he died on December 28, 1981. He was buried in Rosehill Cemetery in Bloomington.

 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014