Louis Gilrod was born in the Poltava region of the Ukraine and was brought to New York at the age of twelve. As a budding tunesmith and penman of appealing verse, by the turn of the century he was engaged to write—for commercial publication—Yiddish counterparts to American popular songs, and he wrote many individual topical songs and parodies. Taking advantage, for example, of the initial American Jewish elation sparked by news of the beginning of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia—as did a number of songwriters and comic performers—he collaborated with Gus Goldstein on a satiric vaudeville skit titled Tsar nikolay un tsharli tshaplin (Czar Nicholas and Charlie Chaplin). Eventually Gilrod became a successful professional lyricist for Second Avenue, teaming up with its leading composers—many of whose most acclaimed songs contain his lyrics—but he composed a good number of melodies for such songs himself, and he also appeared on the stage as an actor.
By: Neil W. Levin