Marie from Sunny Italy

  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
Mike Nicholson
Irving Berlin

I never wanted to be a songwriter

Irving Berlin to Ed Sullivan: “I never wanted to be a songwriter. All I wanted in those days was a job in which I could earn $25.00 a week. That was my idea of heaven. But a bartender in another Bowery saloon, Al Piantadosi, had written a song, an Italian type of tune, and ‘Nigger Mike’ sneered at us and asked us why we didn’t write something. So Mike Nicholson and myself wrote 'Marie from Sunny Italy,' and split it 33 cents apiece. That was in 1907, Joe Schenck, the drug clerk around the corner, bought a copy. I think he was the only one.”

Bookmark and Share
The 3 part PBS Series
Own the DVD