Mabel Wayne’s Cathedral

Usually, women write the lyrics, and someone else, generally a man, will write the music.  Mabel Wimpfheimer, a red haired lass from Brooklyn, switched those roles.  Though born in 1890, she later changed those dates to 1899, then to 1904, in her publicity.  Apparently Wimpfheimer was another publicity problem, so early on her surname changed to Wayne.  She studied voice and piano in Switzerland and attended the New York School of Music.  Her early career consisted of playing the piano, singing and dancing in vaudeville.  In the 1920s, she is claimed to be the first woman composer to publish a hit song with “Don’t Wake Me Up, Let Me Dream” with lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert.  During her heyday from the 1920s to the 1950s, she wrote the music to many other hit songs, mostly with a Latin flair, such as “Ramona”, “Chiquita”, “In a Little Spanish Town” and “It Happened in Monterey”.  The latter song was from a spectacular early film musical, “King of Jazz” released in 1930. The lyricists with whom she worked included Billy Rose, Mitchell Parish, Joe Young and many others.  Through her own singing and piano talent, she recorded some of her hits from the 1930s.  She married music publisher Nick Campbell in 1948 in Reno.   In 1972, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  She died in Glen Cove, New York on June 19, 1978.

A different song for her was “My Cathedral (The Home I Love)”, with lyrics by Hal Eddy, published in 1953.  Unlike the mainly Latin tempos and secular themes of her other works, this more closely goes along with the more traditional Anglo lyrics and faith-based theme.  The singer’s cathedral is within where one can always pray.   Just as every man’s house is his castle, so his heart is his cathedral.

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