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Mitchell Parish
Birth name Michael Hyman Pashelinsky
Born (1900-07-10)July 10, 1900
Lithuania, Russian Empire
Origin New York City (Tin Pan Alley)
Died March 31, 1993(1993-03-31) (aged 92)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Genres Show tunes, jazz standards
Occupation(s) Lyricist

Mitchell Parish (born Michael Hyman Pashelinsky; July 10, 1900 – March 31, 1993) was an American lyricist, notably as a writer of songs for stage and screen.


Parish was born to a Jewish family in Lithuania, Russian Empire in July 1900 His family emigrated to the United States, arriving on February 3, 1901, aboard the SS Dresden when he was less than a year old. They settled first in Louisiana where his paternal grandmother had relatives, but later moved to New York City, where he grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and received his education in the public schools.

He attended Columbia University and N.Y.U. and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He eventually abandoned the notion of practicing law to become a songwriter. He served his apprenticeship as a writer of special material for vaudeville acts, and later established himself as a writer of songs for stage, screen and numerous musical revues. By the late 1920s, Parish was a well-regarded Tin Pan Alley lyricist in New York City.

Parish's grandnephew, Steve Parish, was a roadie for the band Grateful Dead. He described Mitchell Parish's meeting with Jerry Garcia in his autobiography, Home Before Day Light.


His first steady employer was the music publisher Jack Mills, brother of Irving Mills, who signed him for $12 a week to write comedy lyrics for vaudeville acts and to be a song-plugger. His first hit, "Carolina Rolling Stone," was recorded by the musical comedy team Van and Schenck for Columbia Records in 1922. Parish tended to write his lyrics to completed melodies, hits that originated in other languages, or adaptations of classical music.

Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Peter De Rose, Leroy Anderson, Glenn Miller, Sammy Fain, and Benny Goodman were among the composers . As one of the first inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the romantic quality of many of his lyrics such as "Stardust", "Stairway to the Stars", "Deep Purple", and "Moonlight Serenade" contributed to his being called by other songwriters "the poet laureate of the profession." In an interview in 1987, Parish claimed to have written the lyrics to the Duke Ellington standard "Mood Indigo," though they were credited to Irving Mills. He remained "somewhat rueful, though no longer bitter" about it.

His best-known works include the lyrics to songs such as "Stardust," "Sweet Lorraine," "Deep Purple," "Stars Fell on Alabama," "Sophisticated Lady," the translation to English lyrics of "Volare" and "Blue Skirt Waltz," "Moonlight Serenade," "Mr. Ghost Goes to Town," "Sleigh Ride," "One Morning in May," and "Louisiana Fairy Tale," which was the first theme song used in the PBS Production of This Old House.

Besides providing the lyrics to Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," the two collaborated on standards such as "Riverboat Shuffle" and "One Morning in May."

In 1949, Parish added lyrics to bandleader Al Goodman's tune "The Allen Stroll," which was played as radio comedian Fred Allen took a stroll down "Allen's Alley," a featured segment of Allen's weekly show. The new song, "Carousel of Love," premiered on The Fred Allen Show on April 4, 1949. It was sung by the DeMarco Sisters and played by Al Goodman and his Orchestra.

In 1950, he wrote lyrics to Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock."

In 1951, he wrote the English lyrics of the French song "Maître Pierre" which was written in 1948 by Henri Betti (music) and Jacques Plante (lyrics). The title song became "The Windmill Song" and the song was recorded by The Andrews Sisters with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra.

In 1972, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of their Johnny Mercer Award.

The Evolution of "Stardust"

"Stardust" was conceived by Hoagy Carmichael in 1927 as a jazz instrumental, influenced by Bix Beiderbecke. Parish wrote the lyrics in 1929, and the song became a hit the following year in a recording by Isham Jones, who led one of the most popular orchestras of the pre-swing era. "Stardust" was resurrected during the swing era, when Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey both had hit versions. In 1940, Artie Shaw recorded "Stardust" and Tommy Dorsey recorded a second version featuring Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers.

The song went on to have three other commercially significant lives, each in a different style. In 1957, it was a hit for Billy Ward and the Dominoes and the same year was the centerpiece of one of Nat King Cole's most successful albums, "Love Is the Thing." In 1978, Willie Nelson revived "Stardust" as a country ballad, as the title track to his album of the same title "Stardust", that sold three million copies. "Stardust" also became the title of a revue of Parish's lyrics. It was mounted off-Broadway, then moved briefly to Broadway the following year, where it was the last production in the Biltmore Theater. It ran for 101 performances and was revived in 1999.

Song Lyrics (selected)

Song title Composer Year Notable recording Label
All I Need is You (English lyrics, translated from French, written by Henri Contet)
All My Love (subtitle: "Bolero"). (English lyrics, translated from French, original lyrics by Henri Contet) Paul Durand 1950 Patti Page (1950) Mercury Records (catalog number #5455)
Blue Tango (instrumental composition, for orchestra)) Leroy Anderson 1951 (written), 1952 (published) Instrumental version recorded by Leroy Andersen (c. 1951/1952) Decca Records (catalogue number; 27875)
Blue Skirt Waltz
Carolina Rolling Stone
Carousel of Love
Deep Purple (composition for piano, Parish wrote lyrics in 1938) Peter Derose 1933 Larry Clinton and His Orchestr, featuring Bea Wain (23 December, 1938) Victor Records
Is That Religion? Maceo Pinkard 1930
The Lamp Is Low Peter Derose], Bert Shefter 1930s (1) Mildred Bailey (April 24, 1939) (2) Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, with vocal by Jack Leonard (May 1 , 1939) Vocation Records (catalogue number #4845) (2) Victor Records (catalogue number. 26259)
Louisiana Fairy Tale (written with J. Fred Coots) Haven Gillespie 1935 Fats Waller
Moonlight Serenade Glen Miller 1939 Glen Miller (1939)
Mr. Ghost Goes to Town
One Morning in May Hoagy Carmichael 1933 Hoagy Carmichael, recorded October 10, 1933 Victor Records
Organ Grinder's Swing (written with Irving Mills Will Hudson 1936 Jimmy Lunceford and Orchestra
Riverboat Shuffle Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Mills and Dick Voynow 1924 Bix Beiderbecke and The Wolverines
Ruby (theme song from film Ruby Gentry Heinz Roemheld 1952 Les Baxter and His Orchestra (featuring Harmonica solo by Danny Welton) (1953)
Sleigh Ride Leroy Anderson 1948 Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra (1949) RCA Red Seal Records
Sometime Glenn Miller, Chummy MacGregor, Mitchell Parish 1939 Glenn Miller RCA Victor
Sophisticated Lady Duke Ellington
Stairway to the Stars Matty Malneck, Frank Signorelli Glenn Miller and His Orchestra featuring, Ray Eberle, recorded May 9, 1939)
Stardust Hoagy Carmichael 1927 Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals
Stars Fell on Alabama Frank Perkins 1934 Guy Lombardo Orchestra, featuring Carmen Lombardo performing Vocals Decca Records (cataloguee number #104)
Sweet Lorraine Cliff Burwell 1928 Nat King Cole Capitol Records
The Syncopated Clock Leroy Anderson 1945 Leroy Anderson recorded in 1950 Decca Records
Volare (Nei blu di Pinto di blu Domenico Modugno 1 February 1958
The Windmill Song (original French lyrics by Jacques Plante) Henri Betti 1948 The Andrew Sisters, featuring Gordon Jenkins and His Orchestra

Work on Broadway

  • Continental Varieties (1935) - revue - featured lyricist
  • Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1939 (1939) - revue - performer
  • Earl Carroll's Vanities of 1940 (1940) - revue - featured lyricist
  • Bubbling Brown Sugar (1976) - revue - featured lyricist
  • Sophisticated Ladies (1981) - featured lyricist for "Sophisticated Lady"
  • Stardust (1987) - revue - lyricist


Parish died in 1993 in Manhattan, New York at the age of 92. He was buried in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York.

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