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Genl. George Washington: the dad of his country. Currier & Ives, . Prints and Photographs Division, Library that Congress.

You are watching: Lyrics to your a grand old flag


You"re a grand old flag,You"re a high flyin" flagAnd forever in peace might you wave . . .

"You"re a grand Old Flag" was written by George M. Cohan for his 1906 stage musical George Washington, Jr. The tune was introduced to the public in the play"s an initial act on opened night, February 6, 1906, in brand-new York"s Herald Square Theater. It to be the first song from a musical to sell over a million duplicates of sheet music.

The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favourite came, as Cohan later on explained, native an conference he had with a Civil war veteran who battled at Gettysburg. The two men uncovered themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a very closely folded yet ragged old flag. The guy reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, "She"s a grand old rag." Cohan thought it to be a good line and originally called his song "You"re a grand Old Rag." So many groups and also individuals objected come calling the flag a "rag," however, that he "gave "em what they wanted" and also switched words, renaming the song "You"re a cool Old Flag."

It was in George Washington, Jr. the Cohan settled a program with this track that he would certainly repeat in countless subsequent shows. He took an American flag, started singing the patriotic song, and marched ago and forth throughout the stage. Music such as Cohan"s "You"re a grand Old Flag" helped develop a mutual popular social identity as such songs spread past the stage, with sheet music and also records, to the homes and also street corners that America.


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. 1965. Prints and Photographs Division, Library the Congress.

The musical comedy phase of the beforehand twentieth century attracted heavily top top vaudeville because that both material and star quality. George M. Cohan had experienced success in vaudeville as a member that his family"s group, the 4 Cohans. After a break with the Keith vaudeville circuit, George Washington, Jr. ended up being a hit because that Cohan on the "legitimate stage." critics tended to host Cohan"s musical comedy in low esteem due largely to the wisecracks and also musical bits it fan to vaudeville, but the general public appeared to uncover it an excellent fun.

The display actually gave rise to among the much more interesting exchanges in theater background between a drama critic and also a producer. Composing for Life Magazine the reviewer James Metcalfe questioned both George Washington, Jr. and also its writer, lyricist, composer, co-producer and star -- George M. Cohan.

Mr. Cohan"s personality and achievements are fairly worth notice . . . Consisting greatly of numerous bars of well-known patriotic or sentimental songs strung in addition to connecting links of lively and an ext or much less original music trash . . . Mawkish appeals to the cheapest sort of patriotism. "George Washington, Jr." is a fair example of his playwriting . . . Mr. Cohan is no to be blamed. In fact, from the American philosophy that moneymaking is the test of actual success, he is highly to be commended as a successful American. If the can lug himself come coin the American flag and also national heroes right into box-office receipts, that is no his blame, however our dead . . . "Life" recommends its readers to walk to see Mr. Cohan"s performance. There can be no more powerful appeal for the betterment the the American phase - no fiercer commentary on the debased problem of the intelligence of a big part the the theatre-going public."

Cohan responded to Metcalfe, together was his way, top top the 4th of July 1906 in The spot Light (Vol. II, No. 3).

I create my own songs since I write much better songs than anyone else I recognize of. I publish these songs because they lug greater royalties than any type of other course of music marketed in this country. I write my very own plays due to the fact that I have not yet seen or read plays native the pens of various other authors the seem as good as the plays ns write. I develop my own plays because I think I"m as great a theatrical manager as any other man in this line. Ns dance since I know I"m the ideal dancer in the country. Ns sing due to the fact that I can sing my own songs much better than any type of other man on the stage. . . . I create these small stories since I think I compose them better than other writers of stories. Ns play leading parts in most of mine plays due to the fact that I think I"m the finest actor available. Ns pay myself the biggest salary ever paid a song and also dance comedian since I know I deserve it. But think me, sort reader, once I say, i am not an egotist."
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Miss Ethel Levy. Arnold Genthe, photographer, December 29, 1921. Prints and also Photographs Division, Library the Congress.

Ethel Levey, that was married to Cohan, was a member of the original actors of George Washington, Jr. Gilbert Sildes, author of The seven Lively Arts composed that she shown "something approximately elemental, something common and also pure; every little thing she did had actually broadness and sharpness both." Levey walked out on George Washington, Jr. (both the show and its alter-ego Cohan) in 1906 if they were performing in Cleveland but continued a lively career, which consisted of work in London.

With and without Ethel Levey George Washington, Jr. ran from February 12, 1906 to April 23, 1906 and, complying with a nationwide tour, had actually a one month return engagement in brand-new York indigenous February 11 through March 11, 1907.

Learn an ext About it Related net Sites print Bibliography
Browne, C. A. The story of our nationwide ballads.

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modification by Willard A. Heaps. New York: cutting board Y. Crowell Company, 1960. Call number: ML3551 .B88 1960. Ewen, David, ed. American renowned songs from the Revolutionary battle to the present. brand-new York: arbitrarily House, 1966. Call number: ML128 .N3 E9.

title You"re a grand Old Flag developed / published Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002. topic Headings - popular Songs of the work - Songs and also Music - song Collections Genre write-up extr Metadata styles METSXML record