BALLARD MACDONALD (1882 - 1935)
Lyricist, Composer, Film Director
Ballard MacDonald may be the only prominent lyricist of his generation to be born in Portland, Oregon. It was after
graduation from Princeton and studies at the Sorbonne in Paris that he got into show business via vaudeville and Broadway
and became a charter member of ASCAP in 1914. He was the librettist and lyricist for Ziegfeld’s Follies in 1919
(and in 1934) and wrote the book and lyrics for his first Broadway show in 1921, Love Birds. With B.G. DeSylva he
wrote the lyrics to George Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me,” which appeared in George White’s
Scandals of 1924 and became the title song of a 1952 film. A 1935 version of the Scandals contained the song
“Anything Can Happen” for which MacDonald wrote both music and lyrics.
The only thing typical of MacDonald’s work is its variety. His hit songs include “Indiana” (1917, with
James Hanley) and “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” a song about Virginia written with Harry Carroll in 1913.
“Beautiful Ohio,” written in 1918 with composer Mary Earl, was adopted as the State song in 1969, and new
lyrics by Wilbert McBride were added in 1989.
“Rose of Washington Square,” written with James Hanley for a 1920 Zeigfeld show, became the title of a thinly
disguised film biography of Fannie Brice in 1939. MacDonald and Billy Rose collaborated on the lyrics for Joseph
Meyer’s “Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie” (1925), which Ella Fitzgerald used as the title cut of her 1962
album. “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” a novelty song written in 1905 by German composer Leon Jessel, was given
lyrics by MacDonald for the Broadway show The Bat in 1922.
MacDonald contributed songs to several films while under contract to MGM and was the director of The Big Casino in
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com