Happy Birthday Song: Where Did It Come From?By: Toni Matthews-El - May 31, 2014
Happy birthday to you….
Almost everyone knows the “Happy Birthday Song” in one form or another.
While this is true of the song, there are some interesting tidbits about this particular melody you may not know.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest mysteries to many people who know the song is where it came from.
If you didn’t know, the “Happy Birthday Song” has been long attributed to Patty and Mildred Hill of Louisville, Kentucky.
Despite being credited with the song, the two sisters did not sit down to a piano in 1893 to put together a birthday tune.
In actuality, the pair put together the lyrics and melody for a song titled “Good Morning To All”:
At this point you are probably wondering how “Good Morning To All” became a happy birthday song.
It turns out that the Hills sisters are also credited with changing the lyrics to their morning greeting and creating the most popular song in history.
The exact time at which the alleged changes were made isn’t known…and therein lies a major problem.
In recent years the “Happy Birthday Song” has been the subject of a HUGE legal dispute.
The copyright for the song is owned by Warner Music, which collects more than $2 million per year in licensing fees.
Before you panic, know that you aren’t breaking the law by singing the song at parties. The copyright is for commercial usage, such as on television and in movies.
The sisters are believed to have sung the reworked their song at birthday parties for guests, however some argue they may not have written the words. There’s no definite proof that they didn’t, but there’s no evidence that they did.
The murky nature behind this aided in numerous performances of the song without the payment of royalties to the Hills family .
Jessica Hill was upset enough over the failed attribution to her sisters to take the matter to court.
The youngest Hill sister successfully demonstrated that the music for the “Happy Birthday Song” and “Good Morning To All” were absolutely identical. She was granted an official copyright for the song in 1935.
Thanks to the Hills, children of all ages will be serenaded as they celebrate their birthdays.
Yet thanks to this copyright issue, there is a bit of a letdown for those who love this famous song and believe it should belong to everyone.
What do YOU think? Should the “Happy Birthday Song” be copyrighted? Do you believe the Hills write the lyrics? Comment below!
Image via Wikimedia Commons