Robbie Sherman Explains: Where did the song title ‘Tinpanorama’ come from?

TinPanAlley_BW
Tin Pan Alley in New York in its heydey

Tin Pan Alley in New York in its heyday

The song “Tinpanorama” in Love Birds pays homage not just to a famous street in New York, but also to Robbie Sherman’s family connection to the place and the music.


Love Birds creator Robbie Sherman (music, lyrics and book) explains:

Tin Pan Alley was the affectionate name given to a street in New York City: It was 28th Street near Broadway. It was where all the music publishers were based from around 1890 until the 1940s. So a Tin Pay Alley songwriter is someone who either worked or sold his music to publishers on or near that street.

Tin_Pan_Alley_plaque_cropThe reason they called it “Tin Pan Alley” is because all the piano playing going on there spilled out from the office buildings onto the pavement below, and it made for a cacophonous sound, like tin pans being bashed and banged about.

There’s a song I wrote for Love Birds called “Tinpanorama”. It’s a wonderful title, but I can’t take credit for it – not for the title anyway. The title is from an extremely cool (and particularly rare) concept album put together by my father and uncle back in 1965 (several years before I was born). The LP was an homage to their own father’s (Al Sherman‘s) music. My grandfather Al was, himself, a well-known Tin Pan Alley-songwriter.

So when Love Birds required a song for the girl parrots to sing, I thought about the noise referred to in the phrase “Tin Pan Alley”. The show takes place in that era. Then it struck me that my Dad had concocted this wonderful “Tinpanorama” concept album (but that no song utilising the splendid little title had ever been written). [The Sherman Brothers also invented the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins].

In my song, “Tinpanorama”, the girls sing about a noisy bird whom they fancy. The lyric goes:

“I hear a Tinpanorama
Ev’rytime I call your name
And I jump from my pajama
’Cus I know you feel the same
Now from New York to Alabama
You can hear me proclaim
‘Lord, make my reward
That clickety birdy in the rickety tree
His tickety talk has taken hold of me.”

So the lyrical homage plugs into three different generations. Pretty cool, huh? What a rare privilege to be able to do that.

LOVE BIRDS RUNS 12.35PM DAILY 5-31 AUGUST (EXCEPT 19 AUGUST) AT THE PLEASANCE COURTYARD DURING THE 2015 EDINBURGH FRINGE. BOOK TICKETS HERE.


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