Happy birthday dear Myrna

RecordMy grandfather on my mother’s side was, among other things, a bandleader who played piano and accordion. For her tenth birthday, he made a record of his band singing “Happy Birthday” to her. It was done on some sort of home-recording setup at 78 rpm. The label says “Myrna 10th Birthday 1955″ on it, written in pen on the center of a 7” record. As far as we know it’s the only surviving recording of his music.

My grandfather passed away in 1971, two years before I was born. For as long as I can remember, this record sat in my parents’ living room in their record collection, neglected due to the disappearance of 78 rpm record players.

This Mother’s Day we bought Mom a USB record player that, using the Audacity software programm, could translate 78 rpm recordings on her iMac. Fortunately, the record was kept in a dust cover and had not significantly warped or scratched. And with surprisingly little effort and distortion, my grandfather’s song was rediscovered.

Needless to say it’s a bit mind-blowing to hear one’s father/grandfather 35 years after his death. Mom cried a lot and hasn’t gotten over the thrill of it. I know I have yet to tire of the novelty of hearing my grandfather perform for my mother.

Herewith, my grandfather and his band. Listen closely for some great banter before and after the song. That’s Grandpa on the piano.