My father, circa 1928

My father, circa 1928

My father, Louis Steinman, would have been one hundred on December 26, 2015.  From him I get my handwriting, my taste for salty foods, my sense of humor, my willingness to engage strangers in conversation, and much more.  He loved a wide variety of music, from Rossini to Jolson to Broadway show tunes. Although he didn’t share my enthusiasm for jazz, he tolerated it, and without him I would never have seen Louis (the other one) live in 1967.

He sang bits of songs that he had heard in his childhood, and I (not the most curious of children) do not remember asking him, “What is the name of that song, and when did you first hear it?”  But a number of songs came direct to me because of him.  It was only after his death that I learned what a few of the mysteries were.  I offer a few songs below in his honor, in versions he might have heard in his childhood.

I knew this song only as “Leaves come tumbling down, ’round my head.  Some of them are brown, some are red”:

When I was a fretful child, easily upset and teary, I would hear this (wlthough he didn’t know the verse):

and on a more jubliant note:

and even a silly one that I saw him sing to my eldest niece while she was very young:

Thank you, Dad, for all you were and all you gave.

May your happiness increase!


  1. Barbara Bengels

    Thank you, Michael. I also continue to be grateful for all the music in our home, though I didn’t appreciate Mom’s opera musuc at the time and her need to listen to WQXR at 6pm every night ( before you were born.) I kvell with joy thinking about all the singing we did driving cross country, also pre-Michael, alas-and gave taught my own kids so many if those songs: Oh we Ain’t got a barrel of Money ” (all too true!), “Brother, Can You Spare a Dine?” and so many others. Then there were those I just heard Dad sing when he had a granddaughter on his lap: ” COME TO me, MY MELANCHOLY baby” And “I went riding on my horse.” More will come to me as I drive up to Vermont, on my own Journey to a Star.” We may have been poor but we always had music!

  2. Michael P. Zirpolo

    Beautiful, Michael. I am also the beneficiary of much musical interest and knowledge from my father. He was something of a hipster in the 1930s (or would that be hepster??), who read “Down Beat,” and followed the big bands. Although he was not a musician, he knew a lot about the musicians from the golden age of swing, and what is now known as “American Popular Song.” He remembered odd things from those years, like the article, I think it appeared in “Down Beat,” wherein Artie Shaw and Billie Holiday were riding in his car together with some sidemen from the 1938 Shaw band, and the discussion turned to beards. Artie astonished the people in the car when he said, “I had a beard once, and I looked just like Jesus Christ.” The musicians and Billie roared at this, and Artie, who had been serious, looked angry. Billie, sensing Shaw’s irritation, then said: “OK Artie, how about if we just call you Jesus Christ, King of the Clarinet, and his band?” That little story piqued my curiosity. I’m still curious. Jazz and music are limitless. Thanks Dad.

  3. Good tidings, Louis! You are fondly remembered.


  4. Don "Zoot" Conner

    I loved your and your bloggers.I must say that I’m jelous of all of you-my father had no rapport with me or anything else.Thank’s to a music-loving lady cousin of mine who introduced me to Billie and Lester at a very young age,a lifetime love of jazz was established.Please excuse my poor syntax,my enthusiasm can get the best of me.

  5. Michael,

    It is obvious your Dad helped make YOUR musical happiness increase.

    Thanks for introducing me to your Father.

    After all Brothers should have several Pops!

    Bro Leon.

  6. Lovely to read Michael. You were fond of your Dad, and he produced a very nice and amusing son! Glad Ron and I got to meet you.

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