Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Carolina - But Which One?

Mar 22, 2013

Gus Kahn wrote the lyrics for 'Carolina in the Morning' in 1922.
Credit Johns Hopkins University, The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

If you’ve ever attended a public event or high school choir performance in North or South Carolina, chances are you’ve heard the song “Carolina in The Morning.” But which Carolina does the iconic tune refer to?

The song was a standard of the 1950's but it dates back to a Broadway musical revue in 1922. Gus Kahn penned the lyrics, and Walter Donaldson wrote the music.  It is neither North nor South Carolina’s official state song, but through the years "Carolina in The Morning" has become a staple at public events in both states.

Andy Marx, grandson of Gus Kahn, chatted with The Story’s guest host Sean Cole yesterday about North or South Carolina's attempt to co-opt the famous tune. According to Marx, a Governor of one of the Carolinas in the 1950’s wrote a letter to his grandmother, Gus Kahn’s widow, asking to verify that the tune belonged to their Carolina.  She replied very diplomatically that as far as she knew, Gus loved both Carolinas and that she did not know which one inspired the song.

You can hear the full conversation between Andy Marx and  Sean Cole on The Story's website, where you can also listen to Andy Marx's story of his other famous grandfather, Groucho Marx.