On May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh made history flying his custom-built Ryan Aircraft monoplane solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Entrepreneurs quickly took advantage of the event by selling all sorts of commemorative Lindbergh and Spirit of St. Louis merchandise.
The music industry cashed in by selling sheet music, cylinders, and discs featuring music about Lindbergh. Within two years of the historic flight, the U.S. Copyright office received applications for over 300 Lindbergh-themed songs…
“Lucky Lindy” Sweeps the Nation
Composers L. Wolfe Gilbert and Abel Baer finished writing their song “Lucky Lindy” just hours after Spirit of St. Louis touched down in Paris. Being first gave them an advantage. “Lucky Lindy” was played in several Manhattan clubs that night. Within days, sheet music was printed and the song swept the nation.
The major record labels of the day (Columbia, Harmony, Victor, Edison) quickly recorded their own versions of “Lucky Lindy” for radio and phonograph.
One of my favorite antiques is a 1925 Edison Diamond Disc player that I purchased at a flea market in 1999. A few years ago, I stumbled on a 1927 “Lucky Lindy” Edison disc at an antique mall.
The left side of the disc features “Lucky Lindy,” sung by Edison Records recording star, Vernon Dalhart.
The right side has another early hit, “Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The U.S.A.)” composed by Howard Johnson and Al Sherman; also performed by Dalhart.
The songs are dripping with American patriotism, have cringe-worthy lyrics (“plucky, lucky Lindbergh”), and airplane sound effects. What’s not to love?
My copy of “Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The USA)”, has a few scratches in the first 45 seconds, but is clean after that. Not bad for an old disc. Will a CD be playable in 93 years? I doubt it.
Here they are: songs on a 93-year-old phonograph disc, recorded with a nearly obsolete, four-year-old iPhone 6s. Enjoy!
Lucky Lindy ?
From coast to coast, we all can boast and sing a toast to one
Who’s made a name
For being game.
He was born with wings as great as any bird that flies.
A lucky star
Guides him afar!
Lucky Lindy! Up in the sky.
Fair or windy, he’s flying high.
Peerless, fearless — knows every cloud.
The kind of a son makes a mother feel proud!
Lucky Lindy! Flies all alone.
In a little plane all his own,
Lucky Lindy shows them the way
And he’s the hero of the day.
Just like a child, he simply smiled while we were wild with fear.
This Yankee lad!
The world went mad!
Everywhere they prayed for him to safely cross the sea.
And he arrived
In gay Par-ee!
Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The USA) ?
In the cold gray dawn, when the stars were gone.
In a mighty aeroplane
Flew a boy in search of fame.
Far across the bounding main
Like a bird on high, out to do or die.
On his journey over there
Many million hearts beat for him
And the whole world said a prayer.
For Lindberg! Oh what a flying soul was he.
Lindberg! His name will live in history.
Over the ocean, he flew all alone
Gambling with Fate, and with dangers unknown.
Others may make that trip across the sea
Upon some future day.
But take your hats off to plucky, lucky Lindbergh,
The eagle of the U.S.A
Through the day and night, on his famous flight
Lindy stuck right to his post.
As he flew from coast to coast
Making good his early boast.
In the far-off West, one he loved the best
Said a prayer to God above
And she guided him and helped him
With a Mother’s Wondrous Love
The Edison music library is now in the public domain.
Legal title to the body of recordings made by the companies of Thomas A. Edison between 1890 and 1929 passed to a successor company; however, in the 1950s that company conveyed title to the U.S. government as part of an agreement with the U.S. Parks Department. Thus, Edison recordings can today be used without restriction. No other major company is known to have donated its rights to the public in this manner.
Source: Survey of Reissues of U.S. Recordings – Commissioned for and sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board, Library of Congress
About My Edison Phonograph:
- Edison Diamond Disc London Upright LU-37
- Manufactured from 1922 to 1925
- Single spring motor
- 15 to 20 cranks for a 5 minute recording
- Diamond stylus
- 80 RPM proprietary Edison discs
- $100 new in 1925 (~$1500 in 2020 USD)