A Bird in a Gilded Cage
"A Bird in a Gilded Cage" is a song composed by Arthur J. Lamb and Harry Von Tilzer. It was a sentimental ballad (or tear-jerker) that became one of the most popular songs of 1900, reportedly selling more than two million copies in sheet music. Jere Mahoney (Edison) and Steve Porter (Columbia) recorded two early popular versions of this song.
According to Von Tilzer, he was approached in 1899 by Lamb with the lyrics for a song. Although Von Tilzer liked it, he asked Lamb to change some of the words to make it clear that the woman in the song was married and not a mistress. Later that evening, as he worked out a melody at a piano in a public house with some friends, he noticed that many of the girls nearby were crying, which convinced him the song could be a hit. Later, Von Tilzer would claim that this song was "the key that opened the door of wealth and fame" for him. Its success signalled the dominance of ballads in American popular music through 1914.
In popular culture
Tony Martin sings it with Edith Fellows in the movie "Music in my Heart." Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album On the Sentimental Side (1962). Sylvester Stallone sings the song in his guest spot of The Muppet Show. Malcolm McLaren produced, together with Bootsy Collins, a cover version of "Bird in a gilded cage" in hiphop style as a bonus track for a release from his album Waltz Darling, The House of the Blue Danube. (1989). Kristin Chenoweth sings the song as Lavinia Peck-Foster in season 2 episode 2 of Trial & Error.
- "Harry Von Tilzer, Tin Pan Alley Pioneer". Parlor Songs. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- "Tear Jerkers in American Song, Part 1". Parlor Songs. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Ruhlmann, Wiliam. Breaking Records (One Hundred Years of Hits), New York & London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2004, p.8
- "A Bird in a Gilded Cage lyrics". PD Music. Retrieved 2010-04-14.