While Jimmy Kennedy was a true son of Ireland, the appeal of his music is lasting and universal and stretches far beyond the Irish Sea and the beautiful, inspiring West country. If music indeed is international, Kennedy's many memorable songs are living proof of the fact. They began their lives in Ireland, came into flower on Denmark Street, London's Tin Pan Alley, and spread out to the world. He wrote more than 2,000 songs overall and their sales in sheet music and records reached into the millions. And each of those memorable songs had a story all its own.
He watched a small yacht sailing languidly westward into the setting sun off Portstewart, Northern Ireland and wrote the immortal "Red Sails in the Sunset." In a dense fog, his car's headlights picked out an English pub sign, "Harbor Lights," and his song of that name became an instant sensation. In a British Sunday paper, he read that the English music hall star, Gracie Fields, would be holidaying in her villa in Capri, suggestion enough for him to write, "The Isle of Capri." And when his sister wrote from Southern California that "Today we've gone to Mexico, south of the border," another song came into being, "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)."
An extraordinarily modest man, Kennedy was frequently seen as an 'unsung' hero, yet his lyrics were sung and recorded by a myriad of performing stars including, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Platters, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison: Tom Jones, Glenn Miller and countless others.
One of the biggest hits…