Many birthdays fall in the spring, and my calendar is literally chock FULL of them during the whole merry month of May. The day that we are born seems like an important occasion for anyone to celebrate. As we journey another year around the sun, my own May birth date has become a symbol of growth and renewal. With each passing year I try to be more appreciative of time on this planet—and that I actually get to live to experience another hour, minute, day, week, month, or whole year full of adventures. The frustrations of this past year have inspired many changes in all of us: Black Lives Matter, environmental concerns, changes in many personal and business relationships and I THINK, made us more aware of one another and appreciative.
This is a song I sing and play when babies are born. It’s called “For Baby” But I always insert the name of the child I am singing to. It’s on my album “Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta BED”
The story of the “Happy Birthday” song is fascinating. It is the most recorded song in history and there are many versions of it around the world. Conde Nast Traveler shared this video highlighting how to sing birthday wishes in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, and more!
But who wrote the song, and where did the song come from? See below for interesting facts taken from an article highlighting the history of the two teachers who created it!
Facts about the Happy Birthday song:
- Supposedly, the song was written in 1893 as “Good morning to you, Good morning to you, Good morning, dear children, Good morning to all”, by two teachers Patty and Mildred Hill, to sing to their kindergarten children. When one of the children had a birthday, they changed the lyric from “Good Morning” to “Happy Birthday.”
- By around 1911, the word ‘birthday’ started to sneak its way into versions of the tune and on this day in 1924, for the first time, ‘Happy Birthday To You’ was written alongside the melody named ‘Good Morning to All’.
- It didn’t take long for the song to appear in films and on radio airwaves — entirely without royalties. In 1931, the lyric Happy Birthday appeared in the Broadway musical The Band Wagon.
- In 1988, Warner Music became the owners of the song and benefitted a reported USD $2 million in annual royalties. The Hill Foundation, set up in the sisters’ honor by another Hill sister, has collected half of all royalties since 1893, with some going to their nephew Archibald, after Patty’s death in 1946.
- Walt Disney had to pay USD $5,000 to use it in a parade and the royalties charge on a scene of Martin Luther King celebrating his birthday in the civil rights documentary “Eyes on the Prize” was so high that it never made it to DVD.
- The makers of the 2008 documentary “No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos” about the Hungarian cinematographers, paid USD $5,000 to use the music in their film.
- Marilyn Monroe tweaked the lyrics to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” for President John F Kennedy at a celebration of his 45th birthday in the year 1962. It has since become one of the most famous renditions of the song.
- Robert Brauneis published a paper in the year 2010, ‘Copyright and the World’s Most Popular Song’, bringing the Hill family’s ownership of the melody into dispute.
- In the year 2013, filmmaker Jennifer Nelson filed a lawsuit against Warner Music after they charged her USD $1500 to make a film about the song and include a clip of it.
- In 2015, a US judge ruled that ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is not under copyright. The ruling means royalties will no longer have to be paid to Warner Music for use of the popular song. Since Happy Birthday returned to the public domain, you can expect to hear it far more frequently in films, advertisements and TV shows.
Looking for a good Birthday song playlist? There are some fun options online that you should definitely utilize:
- Spotify’s Birthday Playlist: HERE
- Billboard’s The 24 Best Birthday Songs: HERE
- Birthday Song Playlist for Kids: HERE
- Spotify’s Top 40 Kid’s Party List: HERE
Throughout its short history, this little song has seen many smiling faces. Here’s wishing you a very Happy Birthday on your special date of the year. And if you think of yourself sitting in the Hill Sisters kindergarten, you’ll never grow up!