, , , , , , , ,

I had never looked into the origin of the song previous to this day, but a friend, (who celebrated her birthday yesterday), told me her husband and son both forgot the words half-way through singing it to her. That’s quite a feat considering there are so very few of them of them in the first place. So, I had a mooch around on the web to look into the matter further, and there’s more to it than one might think.

For one, I knew not that there were many variations. For instance, where the Cloud hovers at present, the second verse is – ‘May you have many more (repeated twice), May you have many more birthdays…Happy Birthday to you’. Blinding in it’s brilliance eh? Others from around the world include God, sunshine, and…well, you tell me. How do you sing it? Do you sing it at all? Do you have a special dance and handshake instead?

I found an article in a newspaper, looking into the origins of the song – the full text can be found by clicking on the title below-

Happy Birthday song and its strange past

On June 27, 1859, teacher Mildred Hill was born. You may not know her name but you will almost certainly have sung the song she helped write. Hill was the co-composer of Happy Birthday To You, originally called Good Morning To All, which is the song millions of people sing around a candlelit cake. It was first published in a songbook 90 years ago, on March 4. Although by 1924 the recognisable melody had been sung in American primary schools for nearly three decades, the publication was to trigger almost a century of legal wranglings which would result in Happy Birthday To You being one of the most lucrative songs of all time.
Even though nobody knows who actually wrote Happy Birthday’s lyrics, Warner Music contentiously owns the copyright to the song in its entirety. The media giant has therefore been earning millions from people celebrating their birthdays for a quarter of a century. Walt Disney had to pay $5,000 to use it in a parade and the royalties charge on a scene of Martin Luther King celebrating his birthday in civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize was so high that it never made it to DVD. More recently, the makers of the 2008 documentary No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos, about the Hungarian cinematographers, paid $5000 to use the music in their film.
To sing Happy Birthday in a restaurant, at a concert or public place, royalties have to be paid. The most recent exception to the rule, it would seem, is if you sing it on Mars – as Curiosity Rover did to the surface of the planet last August, a year after it landed.
The familiar six-note tune and original similar, but importantly not birthday-related, lyrics were the work of two sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill, who composed Good Morning To All in 1893 to sing to their pupils every day. The Hill’s lyrics wished listeners a ‘good morning’ where ‘happy birthday’ would later appear, and in this format the song made its way around Kentucky kindergartens and primary schools in the late 19th century…

To read more….click here.

Thinking upon the matter further, most popular birthday songs are huge pants on a long sticky stick. Stevie Wonder did well enough with the subject. Altered Images is bearable and has the nostalgia factor, (though she does sound like Alvin the Chipmunk on helium), but I know of few others that make the grade, barring the two below; the first is an old favourite from sonmi’s younger days, the latter, new to her, but relatively old all the same. Only words from the first, as they are suitably odd enough to make it onto the Cloud – and a video for the second, as it is really quite a beautiful song (it has been added to my daily playlist now, and gives the Cloud a mention too, which is nice).

Birthday – by  B. Guðmundsdóttir.

She lives in this house over there
Has her world outside it
Scrabbles in the earth with her fingers and her mouth
She’s five years old

She has one friend, he lives next door
They’re listening to the weather
He knows how many freckles she’s got
She scratches his beard

She’s painting huge books
And glues them together
They saw a big raven
It glided down the sky
She touched it

Today is her birthday
They’re sucking cigars
He’s got a chain of flowers
And sews a bird in her knickers

They lie in the bathtub
A chain of flowers…

Happy Birthday  by Karen and Don Peris


(pokes a few of the audience who have nodded off in the cheap seats, and lights the candles on a giant cake in the shape of a virgin’s pale neck for Count Orlock, who is hovering several feet off the ground in the wings, (looking as pleased as he can considering he is a ghoulish Vampyre),  gnashing his teeth in anticipation and clasping tightly the manicure set he received as a present.)