Devotees of the Golden Age of American popular music are aware that most of the best songwriters of the 1920s, 30s and 40s were Jewish (Gershwin, Berlin, Arlen, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, Kern, etc.) — a subject worthy of a treatise in itself. But this article is about a great lyricist of that period who even this muse of a music devotee didn’t know was Jewish, until doing research to recognize his birthday today (born July 10, 1900).

I refer to the man who (quoting jazz historian Warren Vache) “wrote the lyrics to so many great songs that the list reads like an all-time hit parade”,  Michael Hyman Pashelinsky — you may know him better as Mitchell Parish. Composers who were his collaborators included the likes of Hoagy Carmichael (Star Dust), Duke Ellington (Sophisticated Lady), Peter DeRose (Deep Purple) and Ray Perkins (Stars Fell On Alabama).

Again quoting Vache, Mitchell Parish “had the gift of creating precise imagery in the listener’s mind of romantic scenes, gorgeous girls, and sometimes delicious melancholy, songs often as well remembered for the words as for the melody.”

Parish was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Here are two of the reasons why, as played and sung by the greatest trumpet man and the greatest trombone man in jazz history:


9 comments on “PARISH, THE THOUGHT

  1. Don Frankel says:

    Muse I never heard of this guy. This is why the world needs you. He wrote the lyrics to those songs? Damn, that is amazing.

    And, to find out he’s Jewish! Well that makes me quell. I don’t know if I spelled that even remotely right as I’m basically a Jew in name only but that would never stop me from pointing to all the other great Jews like Einstein. We all love to do this. A Priest pointed out though we blew it with Jesus. I say we should claim him too. Now some people will argue that he wasn’t really Jewish but I counter with Mary was definitely Jewish and a nice Jewish girl too.


  2. mistermuse says:

    I can’t think of a thing to add to your comment, Don, so I’m just going to sit back and listen again to the amazing renditions of the two songs I linked.


  3. arekhill1 says:

    My girl is Jewish and it just pisses her off when I point out that Jesus was, too. Gracias, Sr. Muse, for the edification; prior to reading this, i thought all the great songwriters were gay.


  4. mistermuse says:

    Some were both, Ricardo, but great songwriters didn’t have to be Jewish to be gay (Cole Porter and Noel Coward come to mind). Not that I’m prejudiced – gay or sad, I am gracias-ful for ’em all.


  5. I don’t wish to sound conceited but we Jews are very talented and intelligent for the most part. Thanks, mistermuse, for pointing out the fact that many songwriters were Jewish. Have you tried looking up famous Jewish athletes yet?


  6. mistermuse says:

    Famous Jewish athletes? Is that Jews who’ve won the Yiddishe Kup?

    I’d be more interested in writing about the fertile field of famous Jewish comedians – no shortage of material there. Thanks for planting the seed for that possible future post.


  7. mistermuse says:

    Now that I think about it, Sandy Koufax was a famous pitcher for the Dodgers (and previously for the Univ. of Cincinnati), not to mention other famous Jewish players in baseball and other sports. Apologies for the wisecrack in my previous comment!


  8. Don Frankel says:

    Mo Berg


    • mistermuse says:

      I think Mo was before my time, but I do recall Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg, who was still hammerin’ home runs when I was a boy growing up in the 1940s. I remember he had a lot of RBIs, so I looked it up – sure enough, he holds the AL record for most right-handed RBIs in a season (183 in 1937, when the season was only 154 games). He was also one of the few opposing players to welcome Jackie Robinson to the major leagues.


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