After Irving Fields finished a tune from Carousel, he grabbed his walker and began shuffling to each of the four occupied tables at the Park Room restaurant at the Park Lane Hotel in New York City, asking people, “What can I play for you?”
We speculated about his age over our appetizers. Could he be 75, maybe 80? When he got to our table, he proudly exclaimed, “I’m going to be 100 years old in August.”
I followed him back to his piano and found a smattering of photos, handwritten lyrics, and several copies of his memoir, The Melody of my Life.
“The middle of the book gets kind of racy,” he explains. “I was still single then.”
As it turns out, Irving Fields is kind of a big deal. The native New Yorker (born Irving Schwartz) has sold over 2 million copies of his 1957 album Bagels and Bongos. It spawned a series of sequential albums entitled Pizza and Bongos, Bikinis and Bongos, Champagne and Bongos….and so on. He says he’s recorded a total of 100 albums in his lifetime.
“Has he written you a song yet?” the Park Room’s Executive Chef Larry Sloves asked me, after our main course arrived. “If you told him you’d be back next week, he’d have a song written for you, guaranteed… He’s already written one for each of us.”
Fields also penned a “YouTube theme song” in a mere 15 minutes. When it was posted on the video streaming site, it captured the ears and hearts of 800,000 viewers. He’s also written a song for the Statue of Liberty entitled, Here’s to the Lady, which undoubtedly he’ll be performing for the lunch crowd on July 4th.
In a couple of weeks, a documentary about Mr. Fields will begin shooting right here in the Park Room, where he says he’ll be joined by Tony Bennett, Betty White, and others over the age of 90 who have “made a name for themselves and remain successful.”
Will Irving write a theme song for the Good News Network? Stay tuned to find out…
(WATCH him write the YouTube song below – and SHARE the catchy tune with your friends…)