Going all the way, prolific and popular lyricist Sammy Cahn (1913-1993) was born Samuel Cohen on this day in New York City. "As a kid, I was very slight and wore glasses," he recalled. "And always carried a violin case."
After writing his first hit by age 21, Cahn created some of the best loved songs of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, "putting that word to that note," as he termed it.
"My loneliest days will never seem long," Cahn wrote. "As long as there's music and you are the song."
With music for Broadway, Hollywood, and television, he was a favorite of big-band singers Ella Fitzgerald and Doris Day. With 30 Oscar nominations and four awards, he wrote some of Frank Sinatra most famous songs, including hits Come Fly with Me, Love and Marriage, Only the Lonely, and High Hopes.
"Sammy could write a parody on virtually any given subject, to any melody, in about three minutes," praised singer Mel Torme. "He had a wonderful way with words... He was a master of similes and... a runaway romantic."
Through the years, Cahn's collaborators included Saul Chaplin (1933-1942), Jule Styne (1942-1949 and 1953-1954), Nicholas Brodszky (1949-1956), and James Van Heusen (1955-1968).
"The popular song is America’s greatest ambassador," Cahn once explained. He wrote by working the lyric inside his head before committing it to paper. Remarkably, he had few drafts before each lyric was completed.
With painstaking passion, he compiled Sammy Cahn's Rhyming Dictionary (1984), the definitive tool for songwriters with 50,000 words arranged phonetically, according to their vowel sounds, rather than alphabetically.
"I like to write," he explained. "Doodling with words on a typewriter is one of my greatest pleasures."
Live all the way.