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IMAGE AND SOUND / Irving Berlin and the Power of Love
Date of publication at Tlaxcala: 13/02/2011
Translations available: Español  Türkçe  Français 

Not for Just an Hour, Not for Just a Day, Not for Just a Year - Always
Irving Berlin and the Power of Love

Roger Evans


Soon after Marilyn Horne closed her 1999 farewell recital in Carnegie Hall with a pure, straightforward performance of “Always,” I heard this story:

Someone asked Irving Berlin which of his songs he valued most. He answered that it would be “Always.”

The questioner listed some more obviously important songs that Berlin had written, adding: “Anybody could have written ‘Always.’”

“But I did,” said the composer.

I have sometimes used this anecdote as an example of how intention, concept, etc. are worthless without execution. Can anyone here provide a source/authority for it?

The song was written as a 1925 wedding present for Ellin MacKay, who would be Irving Berlin’s wife for sixty-two years.

Always, by Patsy Cline

I'll be loving you always
With a love that's true always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand always.


Days may not be fair always,
That's when I'll be there always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But always.

Ellin Mackay's father said his daughter would wed Irving Berlin “over my dead body'—he was not about to see her marry a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. But the heiress and the songwriter nevertheless eloped in 1926. And while Mackay was disinherited, the happy marriage lasted until her death in 1988. Here, the couple pose for Cecil Beaton in the June 1930 Vanity Fair. (Courtesy LIVEJOURNAL)

Courtesy of Roger Evans
Publication date of original article: 12/02/2011
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Tags: Irving BerlinEllin MacKaymusicsongwritingUnited StatesNorth America

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